Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu is currently in Vietnam as a guest of honour at the Miss Universe Vietnam 2022, which took place on June 25 in Ho Chi Minh City. Harnaaz, who never misses a chance to impress with her versatile fashion choices, paid homage to Vietnam’s culture by donning the country’s national dress ‘ao dai’.
She was seen wearing a yellow and golden silk tunic with matchings pants. The 22-year-old accessorised this look with a pair of dazzling earrings, rings, bracelets and golden heels.
Considered one the most striking symbols of beauty, ao dai is Vietnam’s national dress and “has evolved alongside Vietnam, going from regal to practical, humble to high fashion, and back again,” Vietnam Travel says.
Notwithstanding gender and age stereotypes, the elegant ao dai flatters men and women, old and young, alike.
The history of ao dai dates back to 1744 when Vietnam was divided into two territories – the Inner Land and Outer Land. To distinguish his people, Lord Nguyen Phúc Khoát of Inner Land asked his subjects to wear a front-buttoned gown with trousers. This five-part dress is believed to be the inspiration for the modern ao dai.
In the 1930s, the dress was simplified into two parts by Vietnamese artist Le Mur Nguyen Cat Tuong. While it was reluctantly received at first, it soon became popular as urban women started wearing the contemporary version of this traditional dress.
Taking into account that ao dai was not fit for the fields or the factory, it got reserved for professional appearances and special occasions. According to the country’s official tourism website, female high school students are required to wear the dress for at least one day a week.
Over the years, several modern designers have explored creative routes when it comes to ao dai, making the dress fit for less formal settings as well.