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Vietnamese Modernity timeline

Modern Vietnam remains one of the stars in develo-

ping its miracle economy and has an annual GDP grow-
th of 5%, which is astonishing. The debate of Vietnam’s
modernity era goes on intensively but there is just a
lack of critical studies of the cases. The following es-
say will be simultaneously examined and explored the
Vietnamese characteristic of modernity through some
studies, which will be investigated further through Viet-
nam’s clothing and ethnomusicology in the precolonial
and postcolonial era.

Vietnamese Modernity timeline

region, but also has the inevita-
ble Chinese impact in both feu-
n a historical note, Viet- dal and modern Vietnam. During
nam History dates back around the mid 15th century, the Chine-
2700 years ago, with the love/ se’s Ming Dynasty aggressively
hate relationships with suffering performed an attempt to annex
and taking advantages of the Vietnam once again. Upon suc-
Chinese dominations and the cessfully sinicizing Vietnam, the
French and American colonisa- Chinese force everyone to adapt
tion. However, throughout the to their clothing and in the next
years, Vietnam did gain back its 400 years, Chinese clothing (
independence at some point; in- Hanfu) plays a huge role in sha-
fluences from the mentioned in- ping today’s Ao Dai.
ferior countries are undeniable.
In any era, Vietnamese always
considers clothing as an expres-
sion of social status with the
strict dress code of the iconic
trademark “ ao dai’’. However, Source: devianart
not only that these pieces of
clothing varied from region to

Source: Elle

A girl in “Ao Dai cach tan” Modern Fashion

Later on, it is fair to say that the 1st sign of hybrid modernity could be recognized Upon the replacement of the United States as the colonizer in the late 1950s, the
when the French generated their colonial regime in the late 19th century, which new geographic territorry was created with the split of the north and the south.
brought not only bureaucratic system, architecture, linguistics,.etc but also clo- This event has generated the divergence in their disticnting choice of culture iden-
thing.For men, they were first introduced tailored clothing such as colared shirts tity, which the south is heavily influenced by the Americans, and clothing is not an
and suits but only highclass people could afford those. Furthermore, the French exception. The American had brought all most every quintesstial of their Golden
also prompt the fashion scene at the time and innovate the “ao dai”, which creates Era to Saigon and turned it into a metropolitan city. With a wide variety of choices
the comtemporary image of it. In that era, the original design was considered to to establish your own identity, Saigonese started to adopt many American pop cul-
be too “ conservative”, and the new one focuses more on revealing and sexualizing ture fashion trends. For example, one of many popular images of Saigon were the
body parts which fits the Western’s trends at the time. images of prostitutes, with smiffy hairstyle ( sometimes wigs), heavy make-ups and
Courrèges-inspired A-line skirts. This esstentially created a distintive looks from
the conservative images of Northern women and in the next few decades, shapes
Vietnam comtemporary fashion styles.

we can easily trace back American footsteps on Vietnamese
fashion manners through the current trends from the fashion-
-conscious youth of bringing back the vintage looks. However,
Vietnamese millennials are now creating their own brand images
by setting up the trends with the true originality, hitting their
peaks with the birth of Vietnamese world-class fashion designers
working with superstars. However, not many of them made it
to the top and still not being fully approved by the international
public. That being said, the Western-centric inspirations and the
wave of reversive immigration proves beyond doubt that they
are still struggling to create their authentic images.

According to Mark Swed, the respectful music critic of Los Ange-
les Times, “Vietnam probably has more musical styles per square
miles than any other nation’’. This is true, to some extent, not
only due to the highly diversity in traditional music but also the
integral part of influences from both East and West dominators.


If we take a closer looks at Viet- with the youth as the main target
namese traditional instrument, audience. Nevertheless, there was a
there are obvious signs of similarity new wave of music led by Vietname-
of them with the Chinese. Althou- se iconic composer, Trinh Cong Son,
gh from time to time, Vietnamese portraiting the war with realistic de-
documents have been interpretating tails, the horrible and brutal side of it,
several instruments as “ unique and which has the same vibe to American
exclusive” ,the designs and how they pop songs at the time. The American,
are played tell us clearly that it does surely, helps the South Vietnamese
have inspirations from other culture. taking off to emulate the Golden era
However, their usual clear, melodic at the time, from hippie culture to
sounds are what makes them one of rock and roll. The resemblance of
a kind and keep them last for gene- musical events in Saigon and America taken by Tran Hai Dang in the 80s
rations. With iconic instruments like is almost uncanny due to the fact that
đàn đáy, đàn tranh, đàn nhị and đàn the music is hard-pressed to notice
bầu, feudal Vietnamese had esta- the differences if the language is not
blished various types of music, from accounted for.
musical theatre to ritual music.
Up until World War II, traditional
music started fading away and a new
substitution that fitted more the na-
tionalist ideology during that period –
revolutionary music or “nhac do” that
promotes protecting the countries

On the other hand, this is the time

when the youth culture strived to
their greatest period, people starts
to create their own style, unique
music and a new way to enjoy music,
all fused with Western culture. Not
only massive music festival, but the
way they enjoy music. Vinyl Records,
cassettes and later in the early 2000s,
CDs became ubiquitos among all the
generations. The term” audiophile”
became a phenomenon all across
Vietnam after 1975, thus created a
sense of community. Considering that
this term did not even exist before
the 1980s, makes Vietnamese culture
even more inferioir.
A Music Culture decidedly Eastern
in nature, and guided to modern
concepts by the Westerners, Vietnam
Mainstream Music industry was born
in the early 2000s. Japanese and Ko-
rean started flooded in every corners
of Vietnam Youth Culture in 2010s,
bringing in bubblegum pop and fina-
lize the images of V-pop. With only
roughly 2 decades of development,
Vietnamese-root singers started to
gain exposure on a international
level, with various bands and artists
have their albums/songs recorded in
well-known recording studio around
the world.

To conclude, Vietnam is still constantly re-shaping their diverse
modernity but it still needs some time to let the world see the
full capabilities of it. With extremely bright, young future and
strict work ethic, the world will be surprised but until then, we
will have to wait.


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