Residents and visitors to Hanoi will be able to admire the latest versions of the ao dai, Vietnam’s traditional dress, and try some on from January 12 to 17 at an event organized by A designer Hanoi and the Center for Culture Exchange to welcome Tet, the lunar new year festival, and honor the beauty of the ao dai.

Leading designers in Hanoi will introduce their latest collections of both traditional and modern ao dai for the new year at a fashion show at 7.30pm on January 12. A 20-50 per cent discount will be offered to all visitors.

Another highlight is “Pose with Tet Ao dai”, where visitors can don an ao dai, with advice from professional designers on the dress and the accessories. Those taking part will also be made up by make-up experts from Royal Salon and others at the event. Local painters then do a sketch before photos are taken by professional photographers.

The most exciting part of the event is professional models taking to the catwalk, images of which will appear on A designer Hanoi’s Facebook fanpage.

To take part in “Pose with Tet Ao Dai”, visitors must register on A designer Hanoi’s Facebook fanpage before January 14.

The event is being held at the Center for Culture Exchange in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, 50 Dao Duy Tu Street.

The traditional dress of women in Vietnam, ao dai are knee-length, have a neckline, and hug the body. It splits at the hip, for a sensuous charm. More than just a traditional dress, it’s an important part of Vietnamese culture.

The exact origin of the ao dai remains controversial. It is thought to be influenced by the imperial Chinese garb of the Qing Dynasty, known as Cheongsam. It is a fitted, full-length dress worn over black or white loose-fitting pants. Unlike Cheongsam, however, the ao dai is split from the waist down, contouring the pants. In the 18th century, the Nguyen Dynasty required that both men and women wear both pants and gown, though not until 1930 did the ao dai take the shape seen today.

There were numerous changes in the design throughout the 20th century, from floral to checkered patterns, the use of gossamer fabric, variations in the neckline (between boat and mandarin styles), the shortening of its length, and different colors for the loose pants. The modern ao dai is tight-fitting and accentuates and flatters a woman’s curves.

Unlike many other traditional costumes, the ao dai remains popular and influential in modern-day Vietnamese culture. Although it is no longer worn by men, nor by women on a daily basis, they are still worn at special events, such as traditional festivities or occasions such as Tet, weddings, or graduations. In some high schools and universities, a white ao dai is the school uniform for female students.