Sunday, February 7, 2010
Blog #6: An Evolution of Dress Culture By Thuy Duong
I have always carry a particular interest in the cultural dresses of various Asian countries, including the Vietnamese Ao Dai, Korean Hanbok, Japanese Kimono, Hmong dress, and many more. Of course I also took notice in the new and old features over the years of these Ethnic dresses, especially in the Vietnamese Ao Dai. What concerns me is that the "Ao Dai worn by displaced Vietnamese overseas served as a symbol of history and cultural preservation," but when worn on stage as seen in the Vietnamese "Paris by Night" shows it suddenly becomes a "marketing tool for sex appeal." This once again raises concerns about how consumerism issues has a critical impact on the culture itself. Then again, the issue of sex has been a big concern and a taboo in society, and yet the media continues to promote and market sex appeals through public broadcasting television, magazines, and of course the internet.
It's understandable that some designers are just responding to the media's demands and following up on fashion trends but they are harming the cultural images when they began to incorporate marketing tactics into their clothing designs for Ethnic dress. On a more personal level, I really like to dress up and wear an Ao Dai during Lunar New Years or in Vietnamese, Tet. But to me, comfort should always be taken into consideration rather than looking all "sexy" and not feeling happy about your appearances/impressions. The Ao Dai is a representation of the beauty,traditions, and unique culture Vietnam has to offer. It is the haute coutoure "made individually to fit each consumer's shape to create the most graceful look."
Following the compact challenge, this impacts my preferences of the Vietnamese Ethnic dress. Even though I do not own any ao dai at this time, the "ao dai revival" issues are giving me second thoughts as to how I would prefer my ao dai to be made in the future. Of course, I would prefer a unique and traditional ao dai that complements my ethnic identity. I would not allow my designer to create a hybrid ao dai look for me because that will not fully define who I am, a Vietnamese-Asian American. In fact it may ignites an offensive look towards my companions because it may strike accusations from them of me being a hybrid between cultures as a consumer in this nation. I admit, being a consumer sometimes encounters difficulties along with the economy. Consumerism signifies a dominoes effect on the who, the what, the how, and the why. I have not been shopping or buying any new clothing or electronic items. However, I have been consuming fast foods. It's a bit hard to avoid because being a college student and poor makes a big difference to our eating habits and nutritional intakes. I have tried consuming ramen and bread(sandwiches) for a period of time and it did not satisfies my hunger nor health, even though it did prevented me from consuming pricey yet greasy fast foods.
Valverde, Kieu Linh Caroline Ed. 2006. Ao Dai: A Modern Design Coming of Age. San Jose: Association for Viet Arts and San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.