The event aims to promote Hue dress and culture to a wider audience worldwide as part a collective effort to preserve the Ao Dai and promote Ao Dai-based tourism products.

In 1744, after being crowned King of Phu Xuan (the Nguyen dynasty’s capital in Hue), Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat decided to reform the royal court attire.

Since then, the Hue Ao Dai has become the main costume of people in part of the kingdom. Minh Mang, the Nguyen dynasty’s second king, was later credited with popularizing the Ao Dai throughout the kingdom.

Thua Thien-Hue province hopes to build a trademark for the Hue Ao Dai and will encourage locals to don the dress during the 2020 Hue Festival and demonstrate it designed for school wear, for everyday wear, for traditional festivals, and for special family rituals.

“When we think of Hue, the first things that cross our minds are violet Ao Dai, conical hats, and the long glossy hair of Hue ladies. Violet Ao Dai are associated with nowhere else but Hue,” said designer Dang Thi Minh Hanh. 

Research into the Hue Ao Dai will shape a new Ao Dai Museum in Thua Thien-Hue province, where local authorities intend to preserve the traditional five-paneled Ao Dai and hold a modern Ao Dai design contest.

Painter Nguyen Duc Binh, chief of the Dinh Lang Viet (Vietnamese Communal Houses) Club, which is keen on preserving ancient heritages, said, “The province should sponsor research into both men’s and women’s Ao Dai. Hue needs an Ao Dai museum to promote the costume and provide a source of materials for further research. The five-paneled dress, which is starting to disappear, should be reinvigorated.”

Thua Thien-Hue province is compiling a dossier to request recognition of the Ao Dai as a national cultural heritage and then seek UNESCOt title in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity category.

“The project ‘Hue – Vietnam’s Ao Dai Capital’ will create an Ao Dai exhibition and hold a celebration day on which all Hue people, both men and women, will wear the traditional dress,” said Phan Ngoc Tho, Chairman of the Thua Thien-Hue provincial People’s Committee, adding that this year Ao Dai Day will fall on September 2 during the Hue Festival.