A former Miss Vietnam was scrutinized by critics after she sashayed down the runway at a recent fashion show in Rome wearing a brocade dress that appeared “too Chinese” in style rather than reflective of the traditional Vietnamese costume.
Thuy Dung, who held the title of Miss Vietnam in 2008, paired the red off-the-shoulder dress with half-trousers and an Asian conical hat at a Spring-Summer Fashion show aimed at celebrating Vietnamese style last month.
A model shown wearing an Ao Dai designed by Thuan Viet.
The strapless dress, designed by Thy Nguyen, was embroidered with dragons, a pattern often incorporated in the Chinese qipao. The traditional Vietnamese costume has a high neck, long sleeves and trousers beneath, as Vietnamnet.vn explains:
Critics said the design was a “desecration” of the traditional Ao Dai long dress and was too Chinese in style.
Designer Viet Hung told DTiNews, “We should minimise foreign motifs. Inappropriate changes may fail to convey the beauty of Vietnamese traditional costumes.”
Costume researcher Tran Quang Duc, author of “Ngan nam ao mu” (A Thousand Years of Costume), said Dung’s dress resembled Van Cam brocade, of Suzhou, China.
Thy Nguyen took to her personal Weibo account to defend the design of the dress, saying,”To take all this outfit’s materials and mix them up with tradition is too narrow-minded. The designer has the right to choose whatever material they believe represents the outfit’s special qualities, even if it is from a foreign source, and especially when mixing tradition and modernity.”
“Through the pattern, style, and design, one must be able to see tradition. That is the most important,” she said.
Thuy Dung is not the first Vietnamese celebrity to court controversy for her take on the Ao Dai. Miss Vietnam 2006 Mai Phuong was slammed by critics for wearing a version of the long dress that was deemed too transparent and provocative, and almost lost her title as a result.
Hoang My, first runner-up in Miss Vietnam World 2010, was also criticized for her “revealing” Ao Dai, as well as singer Mai Khoi, who wore an ultra-modified version of the costume to an event.
[Images via People’s Daily // dtinews.vn tuoitrenews.vn]