Sunday, June 7, 2009

What does Ào Dái (Vietnamese National Dress) and Eco-Friendly have in common?

What does the Vietnamese national dress have in common with eco-friendly clothing? can find them on plastic dolls.

I was surfing the internet this week and came across a website that sells clothes for 18” plastic dolls. These dolls in particular are called, “American Girl® Dolls.” This website ( sells Asian national dresses for the dolls. The dresses are categorized under “Oriental Style.” The outfits include but are not limited to the following country’s dress/costume: China, Korea, Japan, India, and Vietnam! Here are pictures of the Vietnamese (Left) and Chinese (Right) costume.

The thing that I didn’t like about the Vietnamese dress was the fact that it looks nothing like an Ào dái (Vietnamese National Dress), except for the fact that it had the pant right. If the pant was not included, I would have mistaken it for a Chinese cheongsam. The cheongsam sold on this website looks similar to the Ào dái (compare in the above pictures). I recall learning in class about the “frog closure” on clothes. The Ào dái had just that, but so did the Cheongsam. To my knowledge, typical Ào dái don’t have the frog closure or remotely looks like the one designed on this website. According to Ann Marie Leshkowich, the Ào dái design consist of “a long, close fitting tunic with mandarin collar and high slits up the side seams and loose pants” (pg,79). Which would typical look like these dresses.

This company’s appropriation of the Ào dái, is what Leshkowich’s categorize as “groups and individuals [who] tend to creatively reinterpret the items they consume, so that even the use of the mass-produced products need not to be a form of false consciousness perpetrated on unsuspecting consumers by hegemonic, neo imperialist capitalist structure” (pg, 83). For the founder and designer of Carpatina doll clothing, they took what they see as Ào dái and reinterpret as a costume that can be consume, collected and adore by little “American” girls.

I am looking at this company as one that is partaking in globalization. Not only are they, “orientalizing,” Asian fashion, they are following other growing global trends as well. On the same website you can find eco-friendly clothing for the dolls. The line of clothing is made with “Natural Fiber Materials.”

Oh yeah…before I forget, they even give some of the dolls a name, such as “Lien Hua.” And if that isn’t enough they even have a whole dialogue/story for the doll.

All in all, it has been a good 6 weeks on this challenge! Not sure if I consume less but for sure I notice it more.

Blog 6

Phung Kim Vo

Re-Orienting Fashion

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