Dreams of Asia

In these cold winter days I feel very nostalgic…Thinking about travelling, planes…with people I love…Last autumn I was fortunate enough to spend my honeymoon in two beautiful Asian countries – Thailand and Vietnam.

It was the first time I visited countries outside of Europe, and they were beyond all of my expectations – culture, food, religion, scenery…I loved and absorbed everything. Hopefully, I will have more opportunities to write about them, but being the true fashionista 🙂 :), today I will write about the traditional  Vietnamese outfit – Ao Dai, and two important parts of Thailand income blend into one – Thai silk and fisherman pants.

I bought them both on my visit, and they remind me of the beautiful three weeks I spent there…and hopefully, I will return there soon…

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Traditional Vietnam outfit – Ao Dai

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Ao Dai and lacquer bracelet also bought in Vietnam

The Vietnamese “Ao Dai”, the long gown worn with trousers by Vietnamese women, has become the symbol of the Vietnamese feminine beauty, and the pride of the Vietnamese people.

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Vietnamese women in colorful Ao Dai outfits

The Ao Dai was born as the costume required to be worn by the southern courtiers under the reign of the southern lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat, eager to establish a separate identity from his northern rivals, the Trinh lords.

The original Ao Dai was plain and loosely fitted, unflattering to the female body.

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Ao Dai at the beginning of 20th century

It was not until 1930 when a group of French-trained artists, beginning with the Hanoian Cat Tuong , combined the design of the five-panel gown and French fashion dresses, which morphed in today’s sensual and elegant Ao Dai.

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Sensual Ao Dai

Painters and sculptors began to model their subjects in Ao Dai, and artworks depicting historical female personages, including the Virgin Mary, became increasingly popular.

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Viet – girl artwork

Today, the Ao Dai has become the Vietnamese woman’s choice of fashion for special occasions.  The introduction of the raglan sleeve (sleeve that continues to the neck), the raising of the opening of the panels to a higher level, exposing the skin on both sides of the waist, and other features borrowed from Western fashion, add sexiness and sensuality to the Ao Dai.  Yet the garment moves delicately with the body giving the wearer an appearance of modesty combined with self-confidence.

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Ao Dai today

Many well-known Vietnamese fashion designers devote their entire careers to develop new looks for the Ao Dai.

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Ao Dai on fashion runways

The Ao Dai for men is now worn only during traditional ceremonies, and mostly by men of older generations. The history of the Ao Dai reflects the adaptability of the Vietnamese.  As people who constantly had to defend themselves against foreigners, they adopted products of foreign cultures which they valued and transformed them into their own.

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Thailand silk fisherman pants

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Thai silk is produced from the cocoons of Thai silkworms. Thai weavers, mainly from the Khorat Plateau in the northeast region of Thailand, raise the caterpillars on a steady diet of mulberry leaves.

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Thai silk weavers

A single thread filament is too thin to be used on its own, so Thai women combine many threads to produce a thicker, usable fiber. The process is a tedious one, as it takes nearly 40 hours to produce a half of kilo of Thai silk.

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Different silk patterns

Since traditional Thai silk is hand-woven, each silk fabric is unique and cannot be duplicated through commercial means.

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Use of Thai silk in fashion today

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Thai silk outfit at the beginning of 20th century

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Traditional Thai silk outfit

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Princess Diana on a official visit to Thailand wearing a partly Thai silk dress

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Traditional royal Thai outfit

Thai fisherman pants are lightweight unisex trousers that are made very wide in the waist, one size fits all.

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Thai fisherman pants

The additional material is wrapped around the waist and tied to form a belt. They are usually made of cotton, rayon, or silk. Although traditionally used by fishermen in Thailand, they have become popular among others for casual, beach, and even evening wear.

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Princess Srirasm of Thailand

Thai fishermen do in reality wear this style of pants. They are also increasingly common among many men and women of all nationalities. They are well-regarded by being comfortable and well-suited for various purposes.

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Thai fishermen

Ao Dai – The Allure & Grace Of Vietnam’s Traditional Dress

One Night in Bangkok – Murray Head

Special thanks to Miss Stela, Miss Nina and Dragana and Mirnes for photo shoot location :))

5 thoughts on “Dreams of Asia

  1. I would love to visit much of Asia. I’m toying with either Thailand or Japan in 2014.. Maybe both if I can save enough munnies! 😀

    The clothing pictured here is gorgeous!

    Great post!

    • Thank you :)) ! I actually wanted to visit only Thailand, but my husband insisted also on Vietnam – I loved it, Ho Chi Minh is beautiful mixture of Asia and France – Bangkok of course is true town that never sleeps – I recommend them both :))!

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