A new life for ancient Vietnamese costumes

During each period throughout history, the Vietnamese make costumes that bear the cultural imprint of that era. 

With the development of film and historical art projects and the fondness of many young people, those traditional Vietnamese costumes have found their way back into modern society.

There are now many sites where people share research and recreate ancient Vietnamese artifacts which are given thousands of likes such as Dai Viet Co Phong and the Vietnam Center. The Viet Phuc Association group has more than 71,000 members with a lot of knowledge shared through articles and discussions about ancient Vietnamese clothes.

In the Viet Phuc Association group, we met Nguyen Ngoc Minh Chau, who was born in the 1990s and is one of the young Vietnamese designers with a passion for ancient Vietnamese clothes. Minh Chau owns the Fat Bear store on Tran Phu street (Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi) yet she graduated from Hanoi University of Economics and Technology majoring in automation. 

Designer Nguyen Ngoc Minh Chau in her workspace. Photo: Thanh Giang/VNP

Handmade patterns on ancient Vietnamese clothes. Photo: Thanh Giang/VNP

Nguyen Ngoc Minh Chau designers are favored by young poeple. Photo: Thanh Giang/VNP

Designer Nguyen Ngoc Minh Chau and the tailors discuss getting the best products. Photo: Thanh Giang/VNP

She started collecting antique costumes during her time as a student and she learned that the Vietnamese had unique costumes throughout history. Minh Chau then tried to make an ao tac, a shirt from the Nguyen dynasty, also known as a wide-sleeve five-body shirt.

After 3 months of cutting, sewing, and fixing, Minh Chau completed the first shirt. With this initial success and a thorough understanding of the old costumes gained over time, she began to produce

ao tac in larger numbers and then created Nhat Binh costume as well to serve the current needs of Vietnamese youth during festivals, traditional Tet holidays, and even daily life.

Usually made of silk and brocade, these ancient costumes have some typical features, including the rectangular collar which are the two flaps that fit tightly when worn. The patterned arrangement in the collar has a border, a wave pattern in the middle, and a phoenix button.

The movement to learn about and wear ancient costumes has spread very quickly. As a result, many young Vietnamese people are now more familiar with wearing ao tac, Nhat Binh costume (square-collared garb) and ao Giao Linh (cross-collared robe) during festivals, traditional Tet holidays, and daily life.

Vietnamese ancient costume products by designer Nguyen Minh Chau. Photo: Files

Story: Ngan Ha Photo: Thanh Giang & Files Translated by Hong Hanh

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