Promoting Vietnamese culture with Ao dai: A vision from Gen Z director

Vietnamese women's elegant traditional attire serves to bridge the divide and create a warmer atmosphere during diplomatic receptions.

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At an event held at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi on December 12, Ngo Thi Man – the spouse of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong – and Professor Peng Liyuan – the spouse of General Secretary and President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping – promoted Vietnamese Ao dai (long dress) culture.

Professor Peng Liyuan (left) and Madame Nguyen Thi Man met at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, Hanoi, on December 12.

The visit of the two first ladies to the museum took place during the State visit to Vietnam by General Secretary and President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping. 

In a friendly atmosphere, Ms. Ngo and Prof. Peng enjoyed traditional Vietnamese tea and cakes, listened to melodies played with Vietnamese traditional musical instruments, and especially watched the showcase of the Heritage ao dai collection.

The ao dai show was directed by Do Bao Ngoc, who was born in 2002 and received support from her teacher and collaborator, Director Quang Tu. The collection, made of high-quality silk materials, showcases the beauty of Vietnam’s landscape and people. It was created by designer Do Trinh Hoai Nam, while director Quang Tu took on the role of catwalk director for the show.

The Heritage Ao dai collection was presented in an event imbued with the close friendship between Vietnam and China.
Director Do Bao Ngoc said: “From a director’s point of view, the most important factors in modeling ao dai at cultural diplomatic events are the appropriate expression, gesture, and style, as well as the ability to show the value of the outfit. It’s not just about presenting ao dai, but also about projecting the image of national culture and expressing pride.”

Speaking about the collaboration with director Quang Tu, Bao Ngoc said: “What I most admire and need to learn from him is his vast experience in the field of culture and his rigor in organizing shows. Every time I work with Director Quang Tu, my behavior is corrected, my professional knowledge is updated, and most importantly, I can learn from his strict management style.”

The two first ladies enjoyed a tea ceremony and Ao dai fashion show.

Music also plays a vital role in setting the mood for the performance with the dan bau or Vietnamese stringed instrument solo in the program.

Director Quang Tu remarked: “Working with Gen Z-ers is very interesting. I like their creative and unconventional ideas. As for Do Bao Ngoc, she has enthusiasm and passion and always challenges herself with high standards.”

At 16, Do Bao Ngoc was the opening vocalist in the concert entitled Dung Hoi Em (Don’t Ask Me) by Vietnamese singers My Tam and Jimmii Nguyen. Currently, Bao Ngoc is the inaugural president of the Greenwich Vietnam Student Council – Hanoi Campus. Under the guidance of Director Quang Tu, People’s Artist Xuan Bac, and other seniors, Do Bao Ngoc has taken on the role of event director many times. No matter what role she plays, the Gen Z Hanoi girl never fails to leave her mark.

In particular, Do Bao Ngoc was the general director of the “Tu Hao Ao Dai Viet” or “Proud Vietnamese Ao Dai Gala” held in Hanoi in May 2022. This was a cultural event that paid tribute to the beauty of ao dai fashion and gathered a large number of politicians, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and ao dai designers from the three regions of the country.

Director Do Bao Ngoc (center) and Fashion Designer Do Trinh Hoai Nam (rightmost). Photo: Vietnamese Women’s Museum