Coffee Hour: traditional runway fashion

The International Center’s weekly coffee hour showcases traditional clothing from around the world in cultural fashion show



Ahmed ALBusaidi delivers a presentation about Oman to students at the International Center, located in the Compton Union Building, Feb. 18

CAROLYN MCCAMPBELL, Evergreen columnist

On Friday, the International Center held a fashion show. However, this was not any ordinary fashion show; it showcased different garments and styles of traditional dress from around the globe.

Countries displayed included China, Vietnam, Oman, Burundi and Nigeria. Both men and women showcased their countries’ respective traditional dress, dances and other aspects of their culture.

“[We wanted to] let people know about the culture and world … and [let] people know about the international students also,” said Ibrahim Al Alawi, sophomore accounting major and intern for the IC’s Event Planning Team. 

The event, posted on their Instagram, encouraged everyone to wear their culture’s dress.

“We had five people who agreed to show up in their traditional clothes,” Al Alawi said. 

The event started with fun music, including “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan and other genres worldwide. The volunteers then presented what both men and women wore from their countries. 

Presenter, Van Anh Dao (Tracy), sophomore finance and international business double major, is a program assistant at the IC. She focused specifically on what Vietnamese girls wear in high school.

“According to American culture, … dresses in white [are] for weddings, for the brides,” Dao said. “But it’s different in Vietnam.”

Dao said high school girls would wear white dresses, known as ao dai to portray purity and innocence. She said that Vietnamese brides and grooms would typically wear red and gold to their weddings to signify luck and prosperity. 

Ao dai is also worn at Tết, the Vietnamese term for Lunar New Year. However, Dao said it is not as common for men to wear their ao dai as women.

“I usually see males wearing ao dai only for their wedding,” she said. 

According to Dao’s presentation, Vietnamese teachers, hotel workers and others in the service industry often have to wear an ao dai to work.

Chiara Edah, sophomore international business major, presented on Burundi, a country in Eastern Africa. Born in the U.S. but raised in Burundi and Togo, she presented on the Imvutano, the traditional outfit for women in Burundi.

The Imvutano, made of around three meters of lightweight fabric, gathers along the upper hip, according to Edah’s presentation. The top is made of a cami or tube top, with a sash wrapping around the body. The outfit is completed with a colorful full-length skirt. 

Though this dress may look like a Grecian toga or an Indian sari, this dress is completely original and native to the area, said Edah. 

To celebrate different cultures with the International Center, visit 3-4 p.m. on Fridays in the Compton Union Building room L46 for their weekly Coffee Hour. More information about the Coffee Hour can be found on their Instagram