An Ode To Vietnam And Its Women: Chiron Duong On Its Photographic Project Portraits Of Áo Dài

A long, split tunic worn over silk trousers, the Áo Dài is considered the traditional Vietnamese national garment and contains a long history soaked in culture and Vietnamese aesthetics. “Vietnamese women wear Áo Dài on many occasions, such as weddings, traditional holidays, and events. Or sometimes just because they feel like it,” explains Duong; “in one way or another, they all have fond memories of it.” For the project, the photographer looked inwards and infused his images with memories derived from his personal engagements with the item, as well as from those of people around him. “In this series, and with each conceptual shot, I want to tell different stories of Áo Dài,” he says. “Áo Dài in childhood memories, Áo Dài in Vietnamese arts and poetry, Áo Dài in the love for Vietnam, our motherland, Áo Dài in traditional, unique Vietnamese practices, Áo Dài in wartime as the hope for peace, and many more.” Rich in tone and excellently captured in their spontaneous compositions, the photographs showcase the disparate themes as different Vietnamese female subjects dress themselves with the garment. “I purposely asked my models to embody the characters and portray them in their own unique way so that the most genuine expressions would be captured,” he notes. “Whenever I look at the works, it amazes me how beautifully they narrate my story through their very own voices.”

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