Temple of Literature to host Ao dai festival
Veteran artists who symbolise Vietnamese beauty will perform in an Ao Dai festival that will be held at Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature) from March 1 to 4.

The festival aims to honour female beauty on International Women's Day that falls on March 8. Nineteen designers from across the country will present their latest collection of ao dai inspired by various flowers.

"Each flower has its own meaning. Designers chose a flower for their ao dai collection themselves to express their respect for women," designer Minh Hanh said.

"At this festival, people will see the collections designed for all people, including old women and men, children and the disabled," Hanh said.

Hanoi-based designer Do Trinh Hoi Nam has chosen the Antigone flower for his 20-model collection. The Antigone collection is made of silk, tussore and taffeta, with patterns of flowers and butterflies.

"All flowers are very beautiful. I think Antigone has a mysterious beauty," designer Nam said. "The festival of ao dai will be a story of flowers. My Antigone flower ao dai collection will tell a love story that has ups and downs in the emotions between lovers."

The ao dai collection by the 19 designers will be held at the Temple of Literature, which was built in 1070 by King Ly Thanh Tong who dedicated it to Confucius. It is regarded as the first university of Vietnam.

Lanterns and candles will be lit from the Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam's main gate to Thien Quang Well (Well of Heavenly Clarity) in the third courtyard during the festival.

About 50 young girls from VN Women's Academy, dressed in ao dai, will welcome visitors and present them fresh and beautiful lotuses. The highlight of the ao dai show on the night of March 4 will be the ramp walk of Tra Giang, Thanh Tu, Nhu Quynh and Italian ambassador Cecilia Piccioni.

The artists, who are 70 to 80 years old, still represent the beauty of Vietnamese women. They have worn ao dai in daily life and on screen many times, but this is the first time the well-known artists will wear  ao dai as models.

"I'm happy to wear ao dai as a model on stage. But I'm also nervous because I'm now 74 years old with a body that is not in good shape," People's Artist Tra Giang said. "It is an anxious time, but also a happy one."

She thinks Vietnamese ao dai is the most beautiful and elegant wear. She always dresses in ao dai to attend major events. When she was young, she kept a large space in her wardrobe for ao dai.

Actress Thanh Tu thought she had been invited by the festival organisers to be a juror at the ao dai show, and not to wear and perform while wearing ao dai.

"To speak the truth, I hesitated to agree. But I think ao dai is not just meant for young people or any individual. It is for everybody whether they be fat or thin, tall or short," Thanh Tu said.

"One thing ao dai does is help to cover the wearers' physical imperfections," 72-year old Tu said.

The ao dai festival at Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam from March 1 to 3 is open to all people. The ao dai performance on the night of March 4 will be broadcast live on Hanoi Television.


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