Ao Dai Project

July 7, 2006

Directors Statement:

Why make a documentary on the Ao Dai? It all started randomly with a great exhibition of the Ao Dai in San Jose ( at the Museum of Quilts and Textiles. At this event, I had the honor to meet people who loved Vietnamese culture and especially Ao Dai Designer Si Hoang who invited me to invited to film his Ao Dai’s.  I would also like to thank the people who put on this event as inspiration for this project.

I think the Ao Dai itself is very important because I think as a VietQ and being born in America, the younger generation sees lots of sad stories of war over and over and over again and we sometimes push anything Vietnamese away.(Vietnamese Opera anyone? No thanks. Paris by Night #295? We get it Linda Trang Dai and Tommy “NO!”) My goal is to learn the history of things that fascinate me such as the Ao Dai, and hopefully change the younger generation (my cynical self included) and our perceptions of the culture of Vietnam. The Ao Dai to me is a symbol of Vietnamese people: classy, unique, and beautiful. No wonder we are better than anyone else (I kid).

Through this documentary, I hope to learn about the culture of Vietnam as well as collect as many photographs as possible, from old black/white photographs, to Ralph Lauren Ao Dai inspired clothes. From stories to pictures, I think it should be documented. Plus I just like to collect things. I’ll open a random museum one day. Who knows.

I am looking for old photos of Ao Dai and people that can help me with the history of the Ao Dai.

My list of those to find information and basically the actual person or friends/families/historians who know this person:
1. Nguyen Cat Tuong
2. Madam Nhu
3. Air Vietnam Ao Dai designers
4. Ngo Viet Thu, Vo Thi Co (architects)
5. Nhi T. Lieu – Scholar
6. Doi Moi, 1986
7. Minh Hanh – designer
8. Bao Phu Nu – Magazine 1st beauty pageant
9. Truong Quynh Mai – best nation costumne
10. Le Si Hoang – designer ***( interviewed)
11. Le Minh Khoa
12. Le Phuong Thao – designer
13. Monica Thoa Tran – designer of trust fund baby
14. Thai Nguyen
15. Ngo Thaoi Uyen – designer
16. Huyen Trang – designer
17. Ngo Viet – collector
18. Nam Son – collector in Saigon
19. Ngan An – Hanoi designer
20. Thuy thuy Shop – Hoi An **(interviewed)
21. Chi shop – Hue **(interviewed)
22. Calvin Hiep – Designer, Paris by night (talked to for few minutes)
23. Mary To – Producer, Paris by night
24. ANY PHOTOGRAHS of dresses/designers who were influeced by the Ao Dai

2. If anyone knows of designers/celebrities in Vietnam or America I can interview who own Ao Dai’s or might have a story to tell, please let me know.

tuyte1 (photo curtesy of Tuyet)

Press Release

For Immediate Release


“The Ao Dai Documentary: Past, Present and Future” needs your help

(HCM, Vietnam) After going to an Ao Dai gallery at the Quilt and Textile Museum in San Jose, Donny Tran found his inspiration for his documentary. His goal was to make a mini documentary that showed the past, present and future of the history of the Ao Dai.

Who started the Ao Dai? How has it changed? What political significance does it have? Who wears them today? Will Viet Q’s continue the tradition?

Donny’s documentary takes him from San Jose, California to Saigon and Hue, Vietnam. He will continue his documentary by filming designers in Santa Ana and scholars around the world through email.

The documentary of the Ao Dai is an example of how beautiful the country of Vietnam is.

However, he still needs your help finding images, and historians of the Ao Dai, before the history is lost.

So he created a site: in hope that people can email him w/ information and pictures that he will post.

More information about Donny’s Ao Dai documentary, please go to

“The Ao Dai Documentary: Past, Present and Future” is produced and funded by Donny Tran. Those who would like to help sponsor this project please see below or feel free to email me at

54844720-M (photo curtesy of Tuyet!)