The ao dai is a Vietnamese national costume, now most commonly worn by women. In its current form, it is a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over pantaloons. Ao classifies the item as a piece of clothing. Dai means “long”. The word “ao dai” was originally applied to the outfit worn at the court of the Nguyn Lords at Hu in the 18th century The dress was extremely popular in South Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s. On T? t and other occasions, Vietnamese men may wear an (brocade robe), a version of the ao dai made of thicker fabric. Academic commentary on the ao dai emphasizes the way the dress ties feminine beauty to Vietnamese nationalism, especially in the form of “Miss Ao Dai” pageants, popular both among overseas Vietnamese and in Vietnam itself. “Ao dai” is one of the few Vietnamese words that appear in English-language dictionaries. The ao dai is now standard for weddings, for celebrating and for other formal occasions.
A plain white ao dai is a common high school school uniform in the South. Companies often require their female staff to wear uniforms that include the ao dai, so flight attendants, receptionists, bank female staff, restaurant staff, and hotel workers in Vietnam may be seen wearing it. The most popular style of ao dai fits tightly around the wearer’s upper torso, emphasizing her bust and curves. Although the dress covers the entire body, it is thought to be provocative, especially when it is made of thin fabric. The ao dai covers everything, but hides nothing”, according to one saying. The ao dai is featured in an array of Vietnam-themed or related movies. In Good Morning Vietnam (1987), Robin Williams’s character is wowed by ao dai-clad women when he first arrives in Saigon. The 1992 films Indochine and The Lover inspired several international fashion houses to design ao dai collections,including Prada’s SS08 collection and a Georgio Armani collection.
In the Vietnamese film The White Silk Dress (2007), an ao dai is the sole legacy that the mother of a poverty-stricken family has to pass on to her daughters. The Hanoi City Complex, a 65-story building now under construction, will have an ao dai-inspired design. Vietnamese designers created ao dai for the contestants in the Miss Universe beauty contest, which was held July 2008 in Nha Trang, Vietnam.