Suiting and booting APEC’s top leaders

December, 11/2018 - 09:00

Nguyễn Thị Thu Hà helped make clothes for some of the world’s top leaders last year, without any of their measurements.

A bamboo box contains a set of clothes APEC 2017 leaders. — Photo courtesy of the artists
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Nguyễn Thị Thu Hà helped make clothes for some of the world’s top leaders last year, without any of their measurements.

The designer made attire for delegates to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meetings last year, but as the measurements of the politicians are secret, she had to guess their size using photos and videos.

A year after the meeting, the designers revealed secrets of the clothes during the exhibition Sắc Tơ APEC 2017 (Silk Colours for APEC 2017) that opened at the Hà Nội Old Quarter Cultural Exchange Centre, 50 Đào Duy Từ Street on Saturday.

Wearing matching shirts at official photo sessions and diplomatic and cultural events is a tradition of APEC meetings. The attire is designed based on the traditional costume of the host country.

Two designs in the collection.

The Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, had to design and produce clothes for the leaders of 21 APEC economies.

Hà worked with many artisans and designers to submit their ideas to the APEC 2017 National Committee for selection.

Hà can’t remember how many times the artists started a design that was rejected.

Finally, designs featuring bảo tướng liên hoa (literally translated as the most beautiful form of lotus) as the pattern, were selected.

Bảo tướng liên hoa is the pattern carved at Kính Thiên Palace of Thăng Long Royal Citadel. The lotus is considered the national flower of Việt Nam, conveying traditional culture and modernity.

Buttons of the attire bear the logo of APEC 2017.

“That’s why it is very suitable for the attire of the politics,” said Hà.

“The APEC 2017 attire is a combination of modern and traditional Vietnamese apparel. History and culture are the source of inspiration for this special gift from the President of Việt Nam (Trần Đại Quang) to the distinguished APEC Economic Leaders.

“Modernity, convenience and homage to traditional Vietnamese cultural quintessence, together with special attention to details such as pockets, sleeves, flaps make up the exceptionally elegant, refined yet familiar feel for the APEC Economic Leaders’ attire,” she said.

Artisan Nguyễn Hữu Từ (owner of Dung Từ Silk Brand), designer Đỗ Mạnh Hùng (owner of Anh Hùng Tailor) and hand-embroider Vũ Anh Tuấn (owner of Tuấn Sành brand) were all involved in the process.

The attire was entirely handmade from natural Vietnamese silk.

The pattern Bảo tướng liên hoa carved at Kính Thiên Palace of Thăng Long Royal Citadel.

A special fibre dyeing and mixing process created the final colours: ivory white of the sandy beach and blue of Đà Nẵng sky and sea, representing the warmth and desire for peace of Vietnamese people.

The attire combines traditional cuts with modern technique and exceptional care. Silver buttons are inspired by APEC 2017 logo with 21 sunrays representing 21 APEC economies. The pattern of chim lạc (legendary birds carved on Đông Sơn bronze drums), symbolises Vietnamese culture and its traditional roots.

 “We were careful each step of the making process,” said Hà.

“Even the silver buttons are measured and designed to make them not too heavy on the silk shirts.”

The attire comes in a box made from bamboo, carved in the pattern of bảo tướng liên hoa.

Some designs in the collection of official attire for APEC 2017 leaders. — VNS Photo Minh Thu

Firstly, the artisans bamboo boxes, with each containing the name of a leader carved on a bronze label.

“We are so happy and proud that the set of attire was accepted by the APEC leaders. Only a few leaders asked to change some small details to make the attire totally fit for them.

“It’s a precious chance to introduce the quintessence of Vietnamese art and culture to the important delegates,” Hà said.

“Now we introduce the set of attire and the making process to the public with time to honour the artisans and the Vietnamese culture.”

The exhibition will run until December 17. — VNS