July 4, 2008
Dressing Miss Universe
Renowned Vietnamese designer Vo Viet Chung speaks with Thanh Nien Daily about creating traditional ao dai for the upcoming Miss Universe 2008 pageant.
Thanh Nien: So far, how many ao dai (traditional Vietnamese tunics) have you been working on to complete the Miss Universe 2008 collection?
Vo Viet Chung: My collection will have over 85 ao dai and I have been working with 30 artisans and staff to make the last dozen.
The Miss Universe 2008 contestants will try them on as soon as they arrive in Vietnam next month.
It is said that your collection costs hundreds of thousand of dollars. Is that true?
Many people have asked me that question.
But to tell the truth, it is invaluable.
I say this because it not only takes money, time and effort, but also our great endeavor.
My staff have been working on the collection since last November, when the Vietnamese hosting committee appealed to designers.
I am a perfectionist and I can’t accept anything less than the best.
The competition must have been stiff to become the official ao dai designer for the prestigious pageant. Are you feeling the pressure yet?
Besides me, four other designers desired to dress the beauties.
Hosting the Miss Universe 2008 pageant is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Vietnam to promote its charming image.
My colleagues and I have a burning dream of contributing to the event as well as to our national pride by introducing to the world our spectacular traditional long tunics.
Finally, I became the pageant’s official ao dai sponsor.
The Vietnamese hosting committee signed a contract with me on May 19.
The organizing board is allowing me to make all decisions related to my designs.
Their respect makes the pressure greater.
What gave you the courage to make such an expensive collection six months before you were legally recognized as the official pageant designer?
Competition is harsh in the fashion industry, especially on a world-class stage, but I always had a belief that I would be chosen.
I am confident in my creativity and prestige as well as my products’ value.
It’s not the money or effort, but the challenge to satisfy the country’s expectation.
There are over 85 ao dai in the collection.
It is hard to believe that a designer could make each one different from the others in such a large collection. Were you afraid of repeating the styles and techniques?
Even though it is a big collection, I have had over six months to create it.
The time was long enough for my creativity and for my research on the contestants’ countries and cultures.
Over 80 contestants will be arriving from different ethnic backgrounds.
I had to read numerous documents to find out what the most outstanding features of these countries were.
I also had to look at the traditional clothes of these countries and then filter the most special things to use in my ao dai collection.
I want to showcase to the world the international value of the traditional Vietnamese gown showing its charm of both traditionalism and modernism.
Until now, you have not met with any of the contestants to measure them. How can you be sure they will fit them?
It was very hard for me to get accurate measurements for all of the contestants from the organizing board.
I also had to seek information about the colors of their skin, hair and eyes to choose the most suitable materials.
However, the title beauties have standard measurements and I used international-quality elastic material to make dresses that can fit any form.
It’s not difficult at all to design an ao dai to flatter a woman’s curves, especially for the most beautiful women in the world.
The contestants will feel exceptionally comfortable wearing the dresses on stage.
Reported by Luu Hong