March 16, 2006


Contact: Sandra DuncanSan Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles


Mai BuiChair, Association for Viet Arts



SAN JOSE, Calif., January 30, 2006 – In the first exhibition of its kind in North America, the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, in partnership with the Association for Viet Arts is pleased to present the upcoming exhibition, Ao Dai: A Modern Design Coming of Age. The ao dai (pronounced ‘ow yie’ in the south, but ‘ow zie’ in the north) is a versatile garment of ancient Vietnamese origin known for its unique beauty and grace. Considered a cultural symbol of Viet Nam, the ao dai is worn by women and men as a fitted tunic-style gown worn over long, loose-fitting pants. The exhibition opens April 18, 2006 and features the largest survey of historical and contemporary ao dai pieces, many never before seen in Viet Nam or the United States, from international designers, collectors and a royal restorer.

Ao Dai: A Modern Design Coming of Age is co-curated by Caroline Kieu Linh Valverde, Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California at Davis, and Robin Treen, Chief Curator, San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. The exhibition will be on view through July 9, 2006.

“Aside from the striking beauty of the ao dai presented in this exhibit, each piece tells a story that allows us to connect with the Vietnamese culture while learning of the magnificent ways in which it has evolved and transformed in Viet Nam and overseas,” said Valverde.

“Through the pieces in this exhibition you can trace the evolution of, and participation in, cultural expressions of identity brought upon the ao dai revival of the last two decades by communities displaced by war and economic reconstruction, as well as the reinvention of culture by post-war generations,” added Treen.

In recent years, the contemporary ao dai has made its mainstream debut on Hollywood celebrities as well as on the haute couture runways of Paris from top fashion designers including Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld, Ralph Lauren, Claude Montana and Richard Tyler. Though originating in the mid 18th century as the national dress for both genders, the modern ao dai form only emerged in the 1930s. The exhibition takes the viewer on an journey through the past and present and combines

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Page 2/Ao Dai Exhibition

traditional techniques with new global influences that embody both functional and artistic designs, representing the innovative spirit of Viet Nam’s ao dai tradition. The exhibition features the work of: prominent Vietnamese ao dai designer, Minh Hanh; fashion designer Le Minh Khoa; Si Hoang, an artist and educator turned ao dai designer; Le Phuong Thao, a Vietnamese-American designer who combines traditional and modern techniques; and Trinh Bach, a collector and restorer of royal ao dai from the 19th and 20th centuries.

In conjunction with the exhibition the museum will host several monthly educational lectures and children’s workshops looking at the culture, design and influence of this art form. Professor Caroline Kieu Linh Valverde will host a program on the history of ao dai, its re-emergence as a national dress, and its design influences outside of Viet Nam. A lecture with Professor Susan B. Kaiser will cover textiles, design, fashion, and its influence on society. And designer Monica Tran Monica Tran will discuss the fashion industry and how she incorporated ao dai into her designs for mainstream consumption. Three programs for children are also scheduled, presenting ao dai as both an art-making opportunity, and a form of individual _expression. For program dates and times visit or call


Association for Viet Arts

Founded in 1991, the Association for Viet Arts (AVA) is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary arts organization serving San Jose and the Bay Area. AVA’s goals are to provide opportunities for Vietnamese American artists to present their work, open dialogues for cultural understanding, bridge Vietnamese and American cultures, and the sustain the arts through arts education for youth in the community. For more information call 650 868 6158 or visit

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles 

Founded in 1977, the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is the oldest museum of its kind in the United States and in 2005 became one of the top 10 attractions in San Jose. Museum and Museum Store hours are: 10:00am-5:00pm Tuesday through Sunday; open until 8:00pm Thursdays; closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is $5 general; $4 students and seniors; and free to museum members and children under 13. Admission is free on the first Thursday of each month. The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is located at 520 South First Street in downtown San Jose. For more information, call 408-971-0323 or visit


This exhibition and associated programming is supported, in part, by “Advancing the Arts Initiative,” an initiative of Community Foundation Silicon Valley, funded by the James Irvine Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; by a grant from Arts Council Silicon Valley, in partnership with the County of Santa Clara and the California Arts Council; the City of San Jose; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; and the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association.


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