The history of Vietnam told through the changes in the traditional Ao Dai costume. Not a catwalk, but a lively and very profession show, supported by expertly played ethnic instruments and made fun by the audience being involved as they receive authentic tastes of Vietnamese street cuisine. Beautiful costumes gracefully worn in a series of tableaux interwoven with unusual and exciting musical performances make history come alive. The entrance is through an exhibition of lovingly restored aodai throughout the ages.
As the show began, the presenters explained in both Vietnamese and English that the ao dai, which first made an appearance in Vietnamese culture in the 17th century, has shifted and bent along with the times. At one point in the segmented show, a variety of people wearing ao dais from different historical periods highlighted just how malleable this piece of clothing is.At first we saw the roots of the costume, which were steeped in imperial China. Next, the feudal era, where peasants and merchants wore a thicker ao dai to protect themselves from Vietnam’s harsh elements. The real fun came, however, when we saw the more modern ao dais.