Ao dais charm Universe beauties

Thanh Nien’s charity show Duyen Dang Ao dai (Charming Ao dai), which gathered all Miss Universe 2008 contestants together, won rave reviews in Ho Chi Minh City last night.

Despite nearly tripping on stage in the unfamiliar costume, Miss Venezuela Dayana Mendoza last night won the Best in Ao dai title in Thanh Nien newspaper’s charity show in Ho Chi Minh City.

Tickets to the Duyen Dang Ao dai show were sold out as no one wanted to miss the chance to see 80 Miss Universe contestants donning Vietnamese ao dais by four famous local designers.

The contestants were divided into four groups to parade along Hoa Binh Theater’s stage with four different collections of ao dais.

With the traditional designs of Lien Huong, the black-dominated collection of Thuan Viet, the colorful designs of Si Hoang and the highly stylized ao dais of Vo Viet Chung, the beauties all seemed to become Vietnamese maidens with their trademark grace while walking and performing with ao dais.

Looking glamorous in a Vo Viet Chung ao dai, Venezuelan Mendoza defeated four other nominees – Miss Vietnam, Miss India, Miss Thailand and Miss Kazakhstan – to take the Best in Ao dai title.

Mendoza was the first choice of the jurors, which included Thanh Nien’s Editor-in-chief Nguyen Cong Khe and Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori.

Mendoza said she didn’t expect to win the title.

“For the first time ever, multi-cultural values mingle with ao dai, creating an international exchange and extravaganza that helps beautiful women from different backgrounds understand one another much more as wellas focuses on Vietnamese features,” said Thanh Nien’s Khe.

After raising more than US$23,000 at the Thanh Nien-organized charity auction on Monday, the Ao dai show illustrated again how considerate the Miss Universe contestants have been to disadvantaged Vietnamese people.

Upon their arrival in Vietnam last week, the 80 Miss Universe contestants jumped straight into preparing for the ao dai event with a fitting session.

“Why must this skirt go with trousers?” Miss Curacao Jenyfeer Mercelina asked designer Vo Viet Chung.

Entering the fitting room, Jenyfeer was still wondering how to wear the costume.

But she was transfixed by her reflection and was reluctant to take the outfit off.

No sooner had she buttoned up her long tunic, Miss Brazil Natalia Anderle was ready to show off her outfit.

But the beauty was embarrassed to discover she was only wearing half of it.

She didn’t realize the trousers were part of the ensemble, thinking she was supposed to wear an evening dress split to the hip.

Some contestants, including Misses Guam, Turkey and Poland, also created amusement by wearing their trousers back-to-front.

The designers were enthusiastic about showing the girls the most attractive ways of sitting, walking and performing in the traditional Vietnamese costume.

The beauties were also advised to wear high-heeled sandals and jewelry to be more appealing on stage.

“Amazing!” “Unbelievable” or “Magic ao dai” were the words the beauties shouted from their fitting rooms.

Last night, as they walked on the stage of Hoa Binh Theater, 2,000 people were stunned at how stunning the contestants looked in Vietnam’s traditional dress.

“It is amazing to see so many beautiful girls gathered in one place in such a wonderful costume like ao dai,” said Michael Smith from Australia.

“I wished I could sit closer to the stage.”

Another Australian audience member, Don McDonald said: “Everything was so wonderful, the girls, the ao dais, the music and the organizing,” he said.

“Miss Venezuela was very beautiful but of course my choice is Miss Australia,” McDonald said.


After a visit to Quang Nam provincial People’s Committee Office, sightseeing at the five-star Nam Hai Hoi An Resort and playing games and sports at the Palm Garden Resort, the beauty contestants will join a parade led by Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori in local pedicabs, decorated with their national flags and symbols.

A traditional musical show will be held this evening in the ancient town, where organizers and performing artists will put on an extravaganza, bringing back to life scenes from the city’s history for the enjoyment of the pageant contestants.

(L to R) Miss Finland Satu Tuomisto, Miss France Laura Tanguy, Miss Georgia Gvantsa Daraselia and Miss Germany Madina Taher modeling Vietnamese ao dais at Ho Chi Minh City’s Hoa Binh Theater last night.