Culture Culture

07/02/2022 - 06:56

Bringing Hue ao dai to Australia

From the passion for the ao dai, Nguyen Giang Thanh, a Hue girl, and her associates founded VietCharm, with the aims to promote and spread Hue ao dai in Australia.

Nguyen Giang Thanh takes care of every single ao dai design

Passion for the ao dai

Recently, the ao dai market in Hue has seen the emerging of the VietCharm ao dai, with designs favoring the traditional ao dai. Besides the five-panel ao dai, VietCharm also has many ao dai designs, which are stylized towards dynamic young people, while still maintain the form of the ancient costume, and decorated with traditional patterns or royal motif patterns.

Nguyen Giang Thanh, founder of VietCharm, is a Hue girl with great love to the ao dai. After seven years living in Australia, she had decided to return to her hometown, bring the VietCharm ao dai brand name from Australia to Hue, and spread the ao dai designs in Hue throughout Australia.

Giang Thanh has had the love for the ao dai since she was a schoolgirl. When she was in school age, the little Thanh highly admired her teacher wearing ao dai and standing on the podium, simply because she found that image very beautiful and charming. The love for the ao dai has rekindled in Thanh since then.

When living in Australia, Giang Thanh felt her most love for the ao dai. In addition to the homesickness, she held a burning desire to wear the ao dai. As living in a foreign country, Thanh rarely had chances to wear the ao dai and this costume became a craving.

In 2017, the Miss Ao Dai Vietnam was held by Vietnamese people in Melbourne, Australia. Also because of the contest’s name, Giang Thanh had registered to participate and won the titles of the Third runner up, and Miss Charm.

In the same year, Thanh joined a traditional Vietnamese dance group and met Nguyen Ngoc Yen, a compatriot student from Quang Tri. The two young people, who share the same passion for culture and ao dai, decided to found VietCharm so as to bring ao dai closer to Vietnamese people in Australia, as well as introduce to international friends about the traditional Vietnamese ao dai.

The ao dai performance in Australia

Giang Thanh returned to Hue and worked with two designers, who are Tran Thien Khanh and Viet Bao. With the full support of the two designers, VietCharm has started bringing Hue ao dai to Australia.

Thanh said: “To promote and spread ao dai to the Vietnamese and also Australian communities, VietCharm has brought the ao dai collections to the performances at festivals, and art shows. At festivals and the Tet holiday of Vietnamese people, besides performing the ao dai, VietCharm has also supported traditional dance groups, as well as student groups with this costume in their performances... In almost any activity that I can participate in, I have taken advantage of it to promote Hue ao dai".

Though leaving Australia with many unfinished plans, Giang Thanh decided not to give up ao dai. Ngoc Yen, who is staying in Australia, is the one to continue spreading the spirit of VietCharm ao dai. At the end of last year, Giang Thanh returned to Hue and her passion for ao dai became greater and greater, when she participated in Hue Ao Dai Festival 2020.

She recalled emotionally: “When I participated in the ao dai performance held in my homeland and at the time when the VietCharm ao dai being named in the performance night, I was very touched and felt that the fire in my profession was still intact. I thought that if the passion for my profession was still there, it was never too late to start, even though it would be very challenging. The Ao Dai Festival was the landmark for me to decide to keep my career going on with the ao dai in Hue. I started with the registration of establishment of VietCharm Company, operating in the field of cultural events and the ao dai fashion.”

Promoting culture via the ao dai

Previously, VietCharm had performed and sold the ao dai made by Hue designers. Since Giang Thanh returned to Hue, she has embarked on designing her own products. The designs of the five-panel ao dai, the traditional ao dai, and the innovative Nhat Binh ao dai with lotus patterns, the Dong Ho paintings or royal motif patterns are well received by customers in Australia.

Targeting a wide variety of customers, especially young people, Giang Thanh's designs are often gently combined an innovative form and royal motif patterns, or kept with the traditional form of the five-panel ao dai and added with modern patterns, such as depicting the nuances of lotus on the ao dai panels...

Giang Thanh shared: "Regarding ao dai, I do not dare to admit that I am a designer, because I have not acquired enough expertise. However, I want to integrate the ao dai into young people; thus, my designs are often made towards youthful trends. I highly evaluate handmade products, as they show out the efforts and skills of the artisans. For this reason, the designs of VietCharm ao dai are sewn by hand; and each design is made into only one to three products. All patterns are hand-painted and hand-embroidered. Each ao dai is a combination of the designer's ideas and the artisan’s skills and creativity. VietCharm is proud to be a handmade sewing brand name ao dai in Australia.”

The majority of the designs are brought to Australia, geared towards events, festivals and wedding costume. Thanh's associates in Australia are responsible for introducing, promoting and spreading the VietCharm ao dai.

The good thing is that VietCharm ao dai has been increasingly accepted by customers in Australia. Many young people, including Vietnamese born in Australia, have chosen the traditional ao dai on their big wedding day; and the whole in-laws family, who are foreigners, also wear ao dai on this occasion.

Nguyen Ngoc Yen, co-founder of VietCharm in Australia, cheerily shared: “At present, Vietcharm is already the most prominent brand name in Melbourne and is also well-known in other states in Australia, the US and New Zealand. VietCharm is the first and the only brand name to serve self-designed, and handmade ao dai, as well as focusing on quality over price. Thus, it is the one which people refer to when they want to buy ao dai; and, they are not only Vietnamese but also international friends".

Story and photos: Minh Hien

Share