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The Tailor: The Fabric of Vietnamese Identity Through Áo Dài

April 12 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Free with advance registration

Presented in partnership with The Áo Dài Festival and the New Viet Nam Studies Initiative, UC Davis, join us for a film screening of The Tailor/Cô Ba Sài Gòn (2017), a film about a family of tailors, highlighting the importance of Vietnamese tradition and culture through the making of the áo dài. The screening will be followed by an in-person conversation with Christina Bui, a Vietnamese American local tailor who comes from a long line of tailors originating in Viet Nam and transplanted in the diaspora.

Directed by Tran Buu Loc and Kay Nguyen • Viet Nam • Vietnamese with English subtitles
Highlighting the glamorous culture and lifestyle of Vietnamese women in 1960s Saigon, The Tailor tells the story of a young, arrogant girl named Nhu Y. The daughter of a famed áo dài tailor whose family has been in the same business for nine generations, Nhu Y prefers instead to design Western-style outfits. After trying on a beautiful áo dài made from fabric passed down from her ancestor, Nhu Y travels to the future and meets herself a few decades later. Witnessing the tragedy of her family’s trade after turning her back on the craft, Nhu Y learns to value the traditional Vietnamese garment.

Christina Bui was born in post-war Saigon; she and her family immigrated as refugees to San Francisco in 1980. After moving to San José in 1985, her parents opened small a tailoring shop on Tully Road, drawing on the skills they brought with them, both altering and making traditional Vietnamese clothing. Bui spent the majority of her childhood learning to love fashion and design by assisting her parents with tasks ranging from attaching buttons to cutting and making dress patterns. College took her to Los Angeles where she found her true calling on the streets of the fashion district. She left college to continue the legacy of her parents, assuming ownership of the family tailor shop after they retired. The last fifteen years have allowed her to hone her craft, and to transform traditional designs into ones that integrate modernity and relevancy from the current fashion world.

During the pandemic, Bui found a second calling. After receiving critical assistance to keep her small business afloat, she joined the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to learn more about the various relief programs and ways in which she could help others. Her knowledge of Vietnamese and the Vietnamese community gave her the opening she needed to become a specialty advisor at SBDC. The position has provided her with the chance to become acquainted with the mulitudes of small businesses across the city, to assist them with accessing grants and other support programs, and the help keep them informed of of future opportunities. For Bui, the rewards are immeasurable. What began as a small tailoring shop in the corner of Lion Plaza has now become so much more than that; it has become her community.


April 12
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Free with advance registration
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San Jose Museum of Art
110 S Market St
San Jose, CA 95113 United States
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