Bush in ao dai
December 2, 2006
Bush spreads gospel of religious freedom
Dressed in traditional “ao dai,” U.S. President George W. Bush, center, Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet, left, and Chinese President Hu Jintao share a light moment prior to the joint declaration of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit is delivered in Hanoi Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006. (AP Photo/Hoang Dinh Nam, Pool)
Leaders at the APEC summit were invited to slip traditional Vietnamese “ao dai” silk tunics over their Western-style suits for the annual group photo — by far the most colorful ritual on their agenda.
The normally dour Hu was positively beaming. Putin joked cordially with Bush. The wide pink turbans worn by the three women leaders gave diminutive Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo a few extra inches of height.
The custom-tailored, ankle-length ao dai, pronounced “ow zai,” usually has a snug fit that is said to “reveal everything but show nothing.”
But those the leaders wore appeared designed not to reveal too much. Fashioned by famous Vietnamese designer Minh Hanh, they afforded the leaders — most of whom have ample girths — a fairly comfortable fit.
Sky blue was the most popular color among men, with a smattering of reds, greens and yellows for a diplomatic rainbow effect.
The traditional ao dai includes a long tunic with slits up the sides.
The custom of posing in clothing symbolic of the host country began when the leaders wore leather bomber jackets at the first APEC summit in Seattle in 1993.