After many years living in Vietnam, I came to take the ‘AwZai’- Ao Dai for granted until I stumbled upon Benny Hanigal’s photos. They brought memories back, dear friends, busy and noisy Hanoi, the Old Quarters, my haunts in Don Xuan market for silk, weddings with fairy like decorations amidst chaos, balmy evenings at Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum, detour from the tourist infected Temple of Literature, tranquil waters of Tay Ho, friendly faces on To Ngoc Van street, street food mecca, ‘you can get anything you want’ in Hanoi, stilettoe perched on bike ladies, and above all the Ao Dai.
Quintessentially Vietnamese, although not worn as often these days as in the past. The classic white Ao Dai is still popular as a school uniform in some areas, while red, yellow, pink and other colors are worn on special and more formal occasions.
Embroidered, silky, gauzy, satiny, or plain white, the Ao Dai is not na easy garb to adopt to your daily runs but is sure a stunningly elegant view on the gracefully slim Hanoiians.