Tailor passionate about woodblock-printed ‘ao dai’

Update: 08:30 | 29/03/2020

(BGO) - Nguyen Thi Huyen (born in 1989) in My Ha commune, Lang Giang district (Bac Giang) has never eased her passion for traditional ‘ao dai’ (long dress). With her effort plus innate talent, she has gradually shown her ability in the field of fashion, especially with her collection of woodblock-printed ‘ao dai’.

Woodblock-printed ‘ao dai’ comes to Republic of Korea

Nguyen Thi Huyen - a young designer putting woodblocks in traditional ‘ao dai’ launched her collection on the occasion of the 89th founding anniversary of the Vietnam Women's Union (October 20, 2019) in the event "Entrepreneur's Day - Ao Dai Festival" organized by the Vietnam Women's Union in cooperation with the Vietnamese Embassy in the Republic of Korea.

Tailor, woodblock-printed ao dai, Bac Giang province, Nguyen Thi Huyen, traditional long dress, innate talent, young designer, teaching assistant

Nguyen Thi Huyen and ‘ao dai’ designer Do Trinh Hoai Nam.

Earlier, when she received an invitation from the Vietnam Women's Union in June 2019, Huyen thought of introducing landscapes in her homeland of Bac Giang such as Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, Bo Da Pagoda, thousand-year-old Da Huong (wide camphor) tree or Tho Ha ancient village to friends and people in the Republic of Korea.

She said: "I thought much about it and found information from books, newspapers and the Internet, and I was most impressed with the treasure of woodblocks at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda and decided to use it as an idea for the ‘ao dai’ collection."

To better understand the woodblocks, Huyen went to Vinh Nghiem Pagoda to study and read more about the translations; store the woodblocks with photos and images on books, newspapers and the Internet. After collecting enough information, Huyen asked her colleagues and friends to help and worked day and night.

From printing, sewing and finishing, all stages she and her colleagues have to focus on working in 20 days. To make true ‘ao dai” pieces, the designer used 4D and double-sided printing technologies which are the latest ‘ao dai’ printing technologies in Vietnam currently.

In order to honour the uniqueness of the woodblocks, she mainly used deep colors such as red and black, black and gray, while applying the principle of "darkness in the light, light in the darkness" to make the ‘ao dai’ more mysterious.

In addition to the traditional long-necked ‘ao dai’, Huyen also designed open-necked ones, with stylized and embroidered hands attached with crystals. At the launching ceremony, the collection "woodblock-printed ‘ao dai’" received many compliments from diplomats and businesspersons of Vietnam and the Republic of Korea.

Starting the career with needle and thread

Graduated from high school, due to difficult circumstances, Huyen had to put her study aside. Loving her parents tenderly, Huyen chose another path for herself: both learning a profession and working as a tailor’s assistant until becoming skilled.

After accumulating a small amount of money, she opened her own tailor’s. The number of customers increased day by day, her tailor’s has become larger and larger and more and more modern, creating jobs for 3 to 4 workers. Huyen Tailor’s is now very popular to women around the region.

In 2018, at the age of 29, Huyen had a nearly-10-year career with one of the largest tailor’s in Lang Giang district. A turning point came to Huyen when she had a chance to meet with ‘ao dai’ designer Do Trinh Hoai Nam. After 10 minutes of listening to the famous designer sharing about the ‘ao dai’, Huyen risked to come to Hanoi with 30 million VND (over 1,200 USD) to start learning how to make traditional long dresses.

The course ended after more than half a year. Recognizing the innate talent and passion for ‘ao dai’ of the girl from Bac Giang, designer Do Trinh Hoai Nam invited Huyen to work at the Training Department of the DNT Fashion Research and Development Company. Since the end of 2018, Huyen has taken on the role of a teaching assistant in charge of training at the company.

Each year, she teaches dozens of classes from the North to the South, and instructed many students. Each person has her own form, so the designing of ‘ao dai’ needs to be more detailed and meticulous than any other outfit. It is her dedication that has helped many students nurture a passion for the traditional costume.

Currently, Huyen continues to research and find ways to bring woodblock-printed ‘ao dai’ to many customers at home and abroad, including those from the Republic of Korea, Japan and the United States.

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