APEC leaders to shine as they dress up in Vietnamese ao dai

December 2, 2006


The look: Twenty-one Vietnamese girls have been trained to help the APEC economic leaders dress in their ao dai. — VNS Photo

HA NOI — Wearing the Vietnamese traditional dress ao dai, leaders from 21 APEC member economies will line up for a group photo tomorrow at the National Convention Centre in Ha Noi.

Different from the body-hugging modern ao dai which are mostly worn by Vietnamese women, the dress for APEC leaders has been tailored to a more loose-fitting shape according to the original ao dai style of the olden days.

The Viet Nam Fashion and Design Institute (FADIN), part of the Ministry of Industry, was assigned to produce the outfit.

Since receiving the order from the Government eight months ago, designer Minh Hanh, FADIN’s vice director, has been busy creating the high-quality silk for the garments, drawing up 32 different patterns to be woven into the silk.

“Finally, the lotus design was chosen, as the lotus symbolises the beauty and culture of the Vietnamese people,” Hanh said.

According to Hanh, the lotus design was woven as a 3D image to create a very special damask silk.

The Toan Thinh Silk Company was chosen to produce the special fabric and it took them five months to fulfil the job.

“The silk selected for the leaders’ ao dai is stiffer than the delicate silk commonly used for these garments, as they will wear the ao dai over their Western-style suits,” said Hanh.

The outfits come in blue, red, yellow, green and pink.

The top choice among the 18 men, among them the leaders of the US, Russia, Japan and Australia, is a business-like blue, while guests from South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong are among the dignitaries going with red.

Thailand and Viet Nam will shine in golden yellow, Brunei and Papua New Guinea chose the deep green and two of APEC’s three female leaders, the Philippines’ President Gloria Arroyo, Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Helen Clark, will make a bold statement in lotus pink.

The ao dai are traditionally worn with a khan dong, or turbans, which have become the formal dress for Vietnamese ordinary people and for Confucian scholars since the late 19th century. — VNS


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