Fashion-4-Freedom: My Life, My Style, My Áo Dài
“Healthy Vietnamese Cuisine reflected through Beautiful Vietnamese Fashion”
by Dawn Garcia | Video by ATOD+ Productions
The Glendale Galleria | 1164 Glendale Galleria Way, Ste. G019 | Glendale, CA 91204
History and culture are two things synonymous with fashion, food, and humanity. One lends to the evolution of another. This month, I was invited by the wonderful Chef Kimmy Tang to attend the “My Life, My Way, My Áo Dài” Fashion Show. The event showcased the truly extraordinary wonder of the Vietnamese culture in an effort to share the beauty and vivacity with us but also to help young women and girls still living in repressed environments in Vietnam.
This week’s Fashion Report is going to focus on the Designers, the color, the story that often exists in the threads of our clothing.
Ushered into the outdoor catwalk situated amidst the beautiful natural patio of 9021Pho created and designed by my dear friend, Raad Ghantous of Ghantous & Associates, the theme of bringing nature into the experience only adds this element of flow and openness. We take out seats in front of the catwalk but not before going to sample the wines being poured. I opt for the red and it is a simple and understated wine.
Back to my seat, the Fashion Show is about to begin. This particular show is best relayed through the images because of the vibrant colors, multiple styles, generational models, and exquisite hand carved footwear. The story, however, is one that you should certainly hear.
Áo Dài means “Long Garment”. It is a full-length gown split into two panels from the waist down and worn over loose fitting trousers. Compared to other forms of clothing, the Áo Dài is truly an ingenious design. It shows every curve of a woman’s body, creating an image of alluring attraction, yet because of it’s solt, flowing front and back panels, the Áo Dài also preserves the feminine modesty and gracefulness of a woman. As a result, the Áo Dài became the iconic symbol of Vietnamese women and Vietnam.
Being my first authentic introduction to the Áo Dài, it really is a stunning piece of clothing. However beyond the design is the purpose. The lines featured tonight by Designers LanVy Nguyen, HoaiSang Nguyen, ThuyCuc Nguyen, and Christine Truc Nyugen are all to benefit F4F – Fashion-4-Freedom. F4F is a hybrid social enterprise where the design, production, and manufacturing meeting both humanitarian and business needs. The goal is to change the unethical practices in the garment business. Meeting so many of the guests and designers at the Fashion Show opened my eyes to how much evolution there is in the treatment of women and girls and the awareness to better the lives of those being oppressed everywhere.
The colors were gorgeous, the range of style from traditional to modern lovely, and while not every piece appealed to me, the traditional Áo Dài were striking. I applaud the vision behind these lines showcased tonight and even moreso believe the work they are doing for women and girls in Vietnam is crucial to a better world. The one design that I would like to pay special attention to is the shoes that were featured. Made of hand carved wood and leather, these designs are art. The dragons, the intricacies, the unmistakable intention is to make a statement and these most certainly do. Well done HoaiSang Nguyen.
Thanks as always to Chef Kimmy Tang for her exceptional cuisine, her contagious spirit, and for being such an active part in making this world a better place.
The CA– — USE behind Freedom-4-Fashion
VA NGO Network is an organization that helps empower youth ranging from 1-18 years old who are trained to educate and coach teens and young women on health issue under the program HIPE (Healthy Initiatives through Peer Education). The program educates over 3,000 school children and young women various healthy topics each year. Nearly 300,000 abortion cases occur annually among females ages 15-19 years old in Vietnam. This teenage-abortion constitutes 20% of all abortions in Vietnam ranking highest in the South Asia region and ranking 5th in the world. Funds raised through Fashion-4-Freedom will reduce the rate of teen pregnancy and abortion and will continue their efforts in the focus of 2014.
You can watch the video put together by Uyen Nguyen talking to Chef Kimmy Tang that afternoon.
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