Written by EatinAsian creator Kimlai
I remember when I was a little girl I would walk into my mom and dads bedroom and behind the door hung yards and yards of fabric. I knew these beautiful pieces of material were going to be made into Aodais. An Aodai is the traditional dress for Vietnamese people. Just like the Saris is the traditional dress for Indians and Kengas for women of East Africa. Every culture has their traditional garb. I remember staring up at my mom when she wore her Aodai and thinking how beautiful she looked. I couldn’t wait until I could have one myself. I used to daydream about what color I was going to get and if the dress would have flowers or maybe even a picture of a dragon. Aodais are very traditional so being 2nd generation and very Americanized there weren’t many occasions for me to wear one. When I was little I used to dream about wearing a beautiful custom designed white Aodai for my wedding dress. However, as I said I’m very Americanized and have seen a bridal magazine or two so now I will more than likely wear a traditional American wedding dress and an Aodai for the reception and dinners. Aodai’s are beautiful dresses with slits on each side and worn with silky flowy bottoms. White bottoms are standard for younger and pre teen girls. The more bold colors are what you graduate to as you become older.
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Aodai history – The dress was influenced by the contemporary concept of virtue in which the features of women’s bodies were not supposed to be revealed underneath the outfits. The four flap aodais had layers and helped to cover the natural shape of the body.
Four flap aodais were popular in the countryside of the North until the first half of the 1930s.
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1989 celebrated the very first “Miss Aodai Beauty Contest in Ho Chi Min City. This marked the come back of the more modern Aodai. Most were hand drawn by artist Si-Hoang and fashion designer Minh Hanh. The Aodai has come a long way. It’s not used anymore to cover up the body but as a means to accentuate the beauty of a womans figure. Sheesh had I known about Miss Aodai contests I would have entered during my pageant days. ha ha!
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My mom and I traveled to Vietnam when I was in my teens. The sole purpose to get her family out of Vietnam that she had left many many years earlier. We walked down the streets of the open markets and I can remember blocks after blocks of material hanging for Aodais. Obviously in Vietnam the dress was worn by many. Some so intricate with lace and embroidery that each gown is like a piece of art. My mom is extremely camera shy (I don’t even think she knows about this site ha ha ha) but I would love to do a mother daughter portrait with us both wearing Aodais some day. It feels so good to be in touch with a culture that has had such a huge impact on me.
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