HA NOI (VNS)— Many agree that women should wear ao dai (traditional long dress) to official events. However, the question of whether men should also wear garments modeled after ao dai remains controversial.
|Keeping with tradition: The suggestion the ao dai (long dress) be worn by women on official occasions gained some support from participants at a workshop, but it may not work for men. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan
"Western clothes are not comfortable enough," said researcher Phan Dang Nhat at a recent workshop on determining the national outfit. "I think men should wear ao dai and khan xep (traditional head dress), which have been worn throughout history. They're cool in summer and warm in winter and also not too expensive."
However, some workshop participants argued that the outfit Nhat proposed was too old-fashioned to be taken seriously.
"Ao dai and khan xep for women are still worn today at festive and official events," said Tran Khanh Chuong, chairman of the Viet Nam Fine Arts Association. "But the same doesn't apply to men. The wearers may not be taken seriously at a solemn official event."
Moreover, historian Duong Trung Quoc argued, the proposed outfit for men is not a traditional Vietnamese style. Designer Duc Hung drew a distinction between ao dai and khan xep. Wearing an ao dai, he pointed out, women or men can choose to keep the traditional appearance or put on Western trousers for a more modern look.
"A national costume set should suit people from 18 to 80 years old," he said.
But khan xep, he said, was not suitable for modern times – an opinion shared by painter Le Anh Van, former rector of the Ha Noi Fine Arts University.
Although workshops on this topic have been held sporadically for the past few years, the problem has still not been resolved.
"In 1991, 1992, 1998, 2010 and 2011, we tried and failed to determine the outfit's specifications," said Doan Thi Thu Huong from the Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition department.
Culture deputy minister Vuong Duy Bien said at the workshop that the ministry would launch a design competition to settle the question once and for all. — VNS