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Who designed the ao dai?

Following in the footsteps of words like nem (imperial roll or spring roll) nuoc mam (fish sauce) and Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Viet Nam), do dài received a new lease of life in a western dictionary.
 
Le dictionnaire Universel Francophone defines ao dai as “a long traditional tunic adjusted to the body, with long sleeves and a high collar, worn by women over a pair of trousers.”
 
Graceful, elegant, attractive - foreign journalists and writers lavish eulogies on the beauty of the ao dai, notably since the American war, which drew world attention to the Vietnamese way of life.
 
It is widely acknowledged that the ao dai was born in the 1930s when Viet Nam was under French colonization. But the question of its origin has kicked off a lively controversy: where did the áo dài make its first appearance? Who designed it?
 
Some say its cradle is the south, occupied by the French since 1862. many newspaper articles printed in Sai Gon in the thirties offer testimony to this fact. One even cites a document from Paris dating back to 1821 that affirms the ao dai existed at that time in France.
 
The general public, however, is inclined to think that painter Cat Tuong, a graduate from the French Fine Arts College of Indochina, created the ao dai. As a result, it is often called Lemur tunic (Lemur is his pseudonym, Tuong means “the wall,” which is “le mur” in French).
 
The ao dai was, in fact, a new version of the traditional tunics, the nam than, five-piece dress of tu than, four-piece dress. It’s introduction - or re-introduction, as it were - was accompanied by other changes. Over the period between the ’20s and ’30s, women stopped lacquering their teeth and began to wear trousers instead of skirts (though traditional skirts were popular for a long time afterwards in rural areas).
 
These reforms were set in the framework of modernization that was changing the customs and habits of Viet Nam’s people.
 
For about two thousand years, Việt Nam lived under the influence of Confucianism. The traditional culture was strongly marked with the sense of community.
 
Women were considered to be a simple tool of procreation in order to assure the ancestral cult and the perpetuity of the family line. Parents arranged their children's marriages. Since there was no freedom to choose theừ partners, girls cared less about clothes and ornaments than in the West, especially after marriage.
 
Women of good standing traditionally wore clothes that hid their bodies. Those with more buxom figures compressed their chests with cloth bands. The word vu - breast - reddened the cheeks of even the most well-educated men.
 
The modem ao dai breaks the old clothing taboos. Moulded to the body, it does nothing to hide a woman’s curves. The breasts are propped up by a pair of bra cups instead of being flattened by amorphous bodices.
 
The fashion was launched by Vietnamese wives of French men, and was soon adopted by female teachers, nurses and students. Those women wore white trousers with their ao dai, and refused to lacquer their teeth black. Women of good standing in their communities eventually picked up the style as well.
 
The year 1934 marked the definitive triumph of ao dai in the towns, and with it, the self-affirmation of Vietnamese women. It demonstrated their aspirations to individual liberty and their decision to take part in social activities and cultivate both their bodies and their minds.
 
A breach was opened on the fortress of Confucianism by the ao dai, the fruit of a successful acculturation between tradition and modernity, between East and West.
 
See more about "ao dai" in Vietnam with Nha Trang tour 3 days 2 nights
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Update : 02-08-2017
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