by Hoang Huong and Le Phuong
HO CHI MINH CITY LeBron James Youth Jersey , March 7 (Xinhua) -- The Dam Sen (Lotus Lake) Culture-Tourism Complex in Vietnam's southern Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday, unlike other weekends, was overcrowded with visitors who were not only tourists, but many others coming to attend the Ao Dai Festival here to highlight the Vietnamese women's feminine beauty.
Themed "Ho Chi Minh City - A City of Ao Dai", the two-day annual event and the second of this kind ever held in the city, attracted the country's well-known makers and designers involving in making the traditional long gown called Ao Dai in Vietnamese, such as Sy Hoang, Viet Hung, Minh Chau and Tuan Hai.
Right in the morning of the opening day, an Ao Dai show was held, with groups of models, office women, school teachers and students, each group wearing charming and beautifully-designed Ao Dai to show off their unique beauty. Music and songs accompanied their show, making it more attractive to spectators.
The Ao Dai is a Vietnamese national costume, now most commonly worn by women. In its current form, it is a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over pants. Ao classifies the item as a piece of clothing on the upper part of the body, and Dai means "long".
The word "Ao Dai" was said to be originally applied to the outfit worn at the court of the Nguyen Lords at Vietnam's imperial city of Hue in the 18th century. This outfit evolved into a five- paneled aristocratic gown worn in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by Paris fashions, local artists associated with the Hanoi University re-designed the gown into a modern dress in the 1920s and 1930s.
The updated look was promoted by the artists as a national costume for the modern era. In the 1950s, Saigon (present-day Ho Chi Minh City) designers tightened the fit to produce the version worn by Vietnamese women today.
Ao Dai was particularly popular in southern Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s, and later expanded nationwide among women. On traditional lunar New Year and other holidays, wedding days or parties, Vietnamese women often wear Ao Dai that always makes them so special among other attendants.
Academic commentary on the Ao Dai emphasizes the way the dress ties feminine beauty to Vietnamese nationalism, especially in the form of "Miss Ao Dai" pageants, popular both among overseas Vietnamese and in Vietnam itself. "Ao dai" is one of the few Vietnamese words that appear in English-language dictionaries.
Ngoc Thao, 30, a teacher of a kindergarten in Tan Binh district, who was among the contestants, told Xinhua that she likes a modern Ao Dai, with shorter sleeves and flaps, and a bit larger collar than the traditional one. "I love both traditional and modern styled Ao Dai, and I wear them each in different occasions. At solemn meetings, I wear the traditional one, while at parties or friendly get-togethers I prefer to the modern one. But both must highlight the beauty of my body lines and reflect my gentle feminity," Thao told reporter.
To attend the show with a modern Ao Dai, Thao said she wanted to encourage more women, especially teachers like her, wearing the dress, both at work and in leasure time, the way to make the national costume more popular in the eyes of other gender, especially of foreigners.
Lan Khue, Miss Ao Dai Vietnam 2014, was invited to be an ambassador for this year's Ao Dai Festival, said she is so glad with her mission of significance. "I am here to show off the beauty of the Vietnamese Ao Dai, which has become a symbolic image of the Vietnamese women. Each time I wear the dress, I feel so proud of the long-time journey the costume has undergone, along with the country's history and development," Khue told Xinhua.
Khue also said that many young girls nowadays may simply know about the design and colour of the dress, while they do not fully understand about the symbolic meaning that the dress brings to the wearer. "I want young women to know more about our national dress, including the great efforts made by designers and makers to perfect it, and their awareness will contribute to further popularizing the beauty, both outside and inner, of the dress," said Khue.
The Miss Ao Dai also said that whether the traditional or modern styled Ao dai is beautiful or not, it depends on the wearer ' s selection that must fit to her shape and age, as well as the environment she is in. "Both traditional and modern Ao Dai has its own beauty, and it can highlight the beauty of the wearer as well, on condition that it is worn by a proper wearer and at proper occasion," she said, adding that there should be more teachings for women, especially youths, about how to use the dress in the best way.
Le Hoang Long, 29, an office staff in HCM City, came to the festival together with his girl friend, who was so charming in a modern-style Ao Dai. "I love the tradiitonal Ao Dai, as image of the dress has been carved in my mind since I was a little boy. My mum, sisters and female relatives all wear Ao Dai on special occasions, such as the lunar New Year holidays, wedding party, etc. However, I support my girl friend to wear a modern style costume, as it fits her shape and highlights her youthfulness," Long told Xinhua.
Long's girl friend, who is a college student, attended the festival in a pink-colored Ao Dai. "Organizers of the event said they will grant female visitors wearing Ao Dai to the festival with a free ticket, so I wear this dress today. I used to wear the dress at high school, and now at college on special occasions," said the girl, adding that she always feels more beautifully when wearing the dress.
A series of activities will feature the two-day event, including an Ao Dai design contest, Ao Dai photo contest, and Ao Dai exhibition with exhibits made in the past and at present.
The festival is organized concurrently on the celebration of the International Women's Day (Marc
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