Bringing ancient inspiration to modern life

February 10, 2023 | 10:19
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Tsafari’s ao dai collection is one of the most long-awaited ones for both local and foreign women in Vietnam. Founder and creative director Ho Tran Da Thao shared with VIR’s Duc Hanh her passion for the centuries-old Vietnamese carving art that helps her create a unique and elegant collection of shoes, bags, and other items.

Traditional Vietnamese ao dai is now blooming in all types of events and in daily life too, with various long-standing traditional and modernised brands. How do you react to this trend?

Tsafari is inspired by the timeless beauty of ancient Vietnamese art and shaped by modern influences. The brand seeks to bridge the past with the present through creative expressions – forms, patterns, and colour palettes. In pursuing this creative dream, I have often experimented with forms and silhouettes that might typically be called “western”, but to me it is all about giving life to a new creation in its best form. I have worked on the beloved ao dai as well.

The 2023 Tsafari ao dai collection reimagines the patterns and motifs in the royal gowns of the past. It weaves royal blossoms and the timeless phoenix in a vibrant palette and has been very well received – by ao dai connoisseurs at home, as well as foreign customers. It has been very exciting to see the ladies embrace life in all its vibrant colours. Tsafari is all about expressing one’s personality and feelings across races, be it western or Vietnamese ladies.

It is the need to express one’s feelings that draws you to a particular expression of creativity – a dress or an ao dai, for instance. While there might possibly be some element of trend culture in there, I believe the Tsafari clientele choose an ao dai for a reason, and treasure it. It is not fast fashion. It has more significance, somewhat like a wedding gown.

Bringing ancient inspiration to modern life

Your new collection is inspired by royal costumes from the 14-18th centuries. How do the ancient patterns and style meet modern life?

The trouble with assembly line fast fashion is that it creates clones. It is very difficult to differentiate blue from blue or grey from grey. Tsafari bouquets blossom with colours and patterns that create joy, allow self-expression and give you the confidence to dazzle your world.

Our philosophy is simple – always draw inspiration from the simplicity as well as intricacies of art of the past, and the beauty of nature. Both are timeless. Tsafari collections seek to create bridges and bonds that help our clientele appreciate beauty that is enduring – beauty that stands the test of time, and of trends coming and going. Tsafari women are confident in their skin, and their couture, whatever the occasion.

Which challenges or advantages have you faced when introducing Tsafari’s collections to foreign clients?

Trying out something new is always exciting and fun. Of course, I have to say that I have had customers who have been a little unsure to start with about trying out something very different from what they are used to. Perhaps this is where people from foreign lands are more open to new things. They have already travelled out of their lands, looking to add to their experiences, and trying on a new dress, a new colour or a new dish comes naturally to them.

This is not to say that everything “local” sells. It is important to create the right impression and deliver the required quality, for a brand like Tsafari to succeed. It is always a challenge to make sure our products have the right fit, the right feel, and the best look possible to attract interest.

Tsafari seeks to create a connection with the clients that last. And to achieve that, we focus on excelling with the fundamentals – unmatched creativity, unique designs and durable clothing that they love to wear again and again. This works for foreigners as well as Vietnamese people.

Traditional costumes revived for the festive season Traditional costumes revived for the festive season

After being seemingly forgotten for a time, handmade traditional ao dai are making a comeback as a way for the young generation to express respect and honour with the traditional cultural values of the nation.

Preserving cultural quintessence Preserving cultural quintessence

With the opportunity to promote traditional cultural values, Dang Thi Ngoc Han has demonstrated her seriousness and desire by pursuing success in the fashion industry and building her own ao dai brand.

By Duc Hanh

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