Ao Dai for All: Hanoi’s Cross Continental Cultural Show

Happy Birthday Ho Chi Minh! Vietnam’s revolutionary communist leader who would have been 125 years young today. Still residing in state in his own mausoleum, Hanoi has seen a week long precession of celebrations and festivals in his honour. To commiserate this special event the department of culture and commerce wanted to celebrate the cultural diversity and creative collaboration in Vietnam today by hosting a special show combining both Vietnamese and international fashion designers and it’s residents. 4 mins reading time.


“Hanoi Connecting Five Continents” was a colourful event combining  music, dance and fashion, staged outside in Ly Thai To square at Hoan Kiem lake, the hub of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The renowned designer’s NtK Nhat Dung ( Vietnam) and Diego Cortizas del Valle of Chula (Spain) presented their contemporary interpretations of Vietnams National traditional costume the Ao Dai.  Both designers collections were  inspired by Vietnams rich and exuberant artistic aesthetics. They applied an assortment of textile techniques such as hand painting, embroidery, beading and applique on a luxurious selection of multicoloured of silks, brocades and velvets. The designs themselves displayed influences from Vietnamese ethnic hill tribes, french iron works and even ceramic floor tiles.

Ao Dai for All

The Ao Dia is a high neck, slim fitting 5 panel dress, with side splits to the waist and generally worn with palazzo style trousers. It is the symbol of Vietnamese women and can be seen almost everyday in Vietnam as it is often worn for formal and special occasions by women of all ages. French, English, American, Russian, Australian, African, Spanish, and Vietnamese beauties proudly paraded down the catwalk in front of government officials, local and national residents and curious tourists. It has been along time since I have done any modelling, probably over 10 years, but this was too good an opportunity to pass up.  It was 35 degrees in blazing sunshine,  I was slightly shell shocked and extremely sweaty after 6 hours of fittings, rehearsals, hair and make up, but all the other models, organisers and friends made it such a fun and memorable experience. I felt proud after two years of living in Hanoi to be offered such a special opportunity to wear Ao Dai, the symbol of Vietnamese feminine beauty, and the pride of the Vietnamese people.

Morgan Ommer photography

Photo by Morgan Ommer

Morgan Ommer

Photo by Morgan Ommer

With special thanks to my friends Hoang Minh Chau, Diego at Chula and Nhat Duong for making me feel beautiful, and Morgan Ommer for his lovely photos.

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Useful Resources

Hanoi Connecting Five Continents (Vietnamese language)
Ao Dai Cultural Celebration 
A Brief History of Ao Dia
Chula Fashion
Morgan Ommer Photography

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