"Việt Nam Fashion Through the Years", produced by Việt Nam News, depicts the most popular fashion trends among young women in north Việt Nam since early 20th century. Here’s our pick of favoured daily costumes and traditional long dresses (áo dài in Vietnamese).
1920s: Áo mớ ba. Considered an early version of the traditional long dress (today’s áo dài), it includes a brassiere, a blouse, an outer long blouse and a long robe. The costume is made from cotton fabrics, while the accompanying belt is of silk or linen. Back then, women always tied their hair with something like a long turban and wore a flat hat made from palm or bamboo leaves. They wore slippers. And of course, black teeth, which were considered beautiful then.
1930s: Áo dài Le Mur. When Viet Nam became a French colony, western influences began seeping in, and people started modernising the áo dài. In the early 30s, painter Cát Tường (1912-1946), also known as Le Mur, redesigned the áo dài and made it a closer fit, added larger collars, puffy shoulders and wavy sleeves, creating a fusion dress. The long dress was made using fabrics such as silk and voile, and was worn with white silk trousers.
1940s: Velvet áo dài: They became popular among Hanoian women in the 1940s. Designed with two panels in the front and at the back, it had a high neck and straight sleeves. It was worn with white silk trousers. Since then, the áo dài has not undergone a major transformation, and what is worn today remains close to this style.
1960s & 1970s: Women got into the habit of wearing simple blouses with influences from Hong Kong, mainland China, Germany and Russia. The blouses were usually worn with black satin trousers.
1990s: The era saw strong integration with styles from other countries, and Vietnamese women started flaunting different styles for daily wear and for parties and occasions.
2010s: Fashion veered towards a variety of modern fabrics, simple elegant colours and styles, while áo dài is still a favourite outfit. Modern Áo dài has a simple cut, two panels, and straight sleeves.
Fashion Through the Years is a special series that showcases a timeline of trends from Malaysia, Việt Nam, Bangladesh and Hong Kong. This is a project by Star Media Group, China Daily, The Daily Star, and Việt Nam News, members of the Asia News Network (ANN). — VNS