Vietnamese Ao Dai
Vietnamese Ao Dai is a fashion of all fashions in the country. In old days it was both for men and women and was preferred by people of all classes. Men's clothes - loose garment reaching from the neck to about the waist called Ao Coc (short blouse) and loose trousers - were usually brown (in the North) or black (in the South) to suit them when they did farming. On special occasions, men join the rituals or festivals with their formal blouses and white trousers or even Ao Dai. Red Ao Dai and red trousers were only for old men on their longevity wishing ceremony when they reached the age of 70, 80 for a simple reason that red would bring people good omen, however, white one was forbidden to wear if someone attended the court. In some cases, clothes were also a status symbol - silk or gauze Ao dai with buttons made of brass or other precious metals were only for middle of upper class.
In 1930s, Ao Dai was close with women's daily activities so it could be seen by the images of old women going to the church or pagoda, of young girls walking on the way home after classes, of busy vendors selling vegetables of all kinds in the Saigon's streets. It had provoked cultural researchers in France. In 1950s and 1960s, Ao Dai had been known in other countries and left people deep impression. They all realized that it was a strangely special dress showing all the fair sex's beautiful features and attractive secretiveness than any fashion no matter what color and material it is or who dresses it. It is said that Vietnamese's broad - mindedness is a factor that has considerably influenced to national costume. Moreover, Ao Dai also suits American or European women. They always have the feeling of being more delicate, graceful and in fact, the feeling of being active in Vietnamese Ao Dai.
By the time Ao Dai, which is a harmonious creation from characters Ao Ba Ba (like Ao Dai but with two short flaps) of Kinh people and traditional long dress of Cham people in the middle of 18 century, has been changed in its style. Firstly, Ao Dai was loose with two flaps reaching about knees and covering the whole body and fastening by a diagonal line of brass buttons on the left chest. After the 1st world war, men only worn Ao Dai when joining ceremony or rituals while European suits were tended to prefer, on the contrary it has been proved to be Vietnamese women's immaterial possession of all times. Because of cultural exchanges between Vietnam, China and Western countries, our traditional Ao Dai have been constantly changed to modern styles, especially from 1930s on, with higher collar, longer and lager flaps tighter trouser. It was begun with the innovation of artist Cat Tuong (1930s) - a member of Tu Luc Van Doan (a group of writers) - and later of Artist Le Pho (1950s) then changed by the reform and selection to meet the real needs, environment and aesthetic sense. Ao Dai has become the most perfect and famous Vietnamese public work. From 1935 on pictures of women in new styled Ao Dai could be seen in magazines. However, Ao Dai with flaps reaching ankles hadn't been fashionable until 1950. From 1954 - 1958 there weren't many changes in Ao Dai style. The whole suit was made from the same piece of material then white or black trousers were referred to accord with Ao Dai of all color. At this time, there was a tendency for well - off ladies in their weddings that an embroidered thin Ao Dai was accompanied with another thicker Ao Dai inside. There were some other variants of this dress with loose spreading sleeves or chemist collars or even with a saw lower in front of the chest part. Material plaited buttons like those of Chinese or ladies in the North high land were used instead of metal ones. As 1950 fashion - Ao Dai was saw lower at the chest whereas a long satin or silk scarf was use as a replacement of the high collar. This kind of style not only was extremely suitable with the tropical weather but also made them look...
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