|Tailor Tran Thanh Tong works hard to revive the “ao dai ngu than.” (Photo: VOV)
In his house in An Cu ward, Tran Thanh Tong is completing a red Nhat Binh costume, a square-collared costume once worn by Vietnamese royalty.
Tong began tailoring when he was 18 years old. Two years later, he was a skilled tailor and for 30 years made mostly Western clothing. With a great passion for traditional Vietnamese culture, in 2018 Tong started making the five-flap long dress and the Nhat Binh costume to meet a growing demand and to promote the Vietnamese ao dai.
Despite being a skilled tailor, Tong encountered difficulties when he first started making ao dai.
“The collar of the ao dai is the most demanding part. Sewing buttons is also meticulous work and a decisive factor in the beauty of the ao dai. The smaller the row of buttons, the more beautiful the ao dai,” he said.
Tong collaborated with Nguyen Duy Linh, a young man from neighboring Vinh Long province who is passionate about Southern culture. Both have done a lot of research on ao dai in different periods of time and in different parts of Vietnam. The five-flap long dress was a formal costume, so the flaps and the decorative patterns must be just so, said Linh.
“Tong is very careful in every step. His ao dai has elaborate stitches and decorative patterns. Tong is following his predecessors in preserving the soul of the traditional Vietnamese ao dai and promoting it to the next generation,” Linh added.
|Duy Linh and Thanh Tong work on a Nhat Binh costume. (Photo: VOV)
The Vietnamese ao dai has sparked an interest in many young people. 23-year-old model Nguyen Thi Le Trinh of Soc Trang province always wears an ao dai on special occasions.
“I’m very impressed with the five-flap long dresses made by Tong. The dress used to appear in movies. Now, I can wear it in real life. It’s amazing”, said Trinh.
Nham Hung, a culture researcher, says the five-flap long dress was a formal costume 200 years ago, and shows off the meticulousness and skill of the tailor.
“Tailors must have great passion and dedication to revive traditional costumes as they require much time and effort, but don’t return much income. I hope more tailors like Tran Thanh Tong will make the effort to preserve and promote Vietnam’s ao dai,” said Hung.
Tong says now he receives many orders, mainly from young people who love Vietnamese culture.
“I intend to adapt the ao dai to modern life. I’m mainly focused on young customers, who I hope will continue to preserve and promote the ao dai and other Vietnamese cultural values”, Tong said.