Photo Essay: Flower Hmong, Vietnam

Here, in The Netherlands, our traditional dress, or klederdracht, has become nearly extinct. Those that do still wear it are perceived by many as being old-fashioned and out of touch with modern society. Luckily there are  still parts of the world where fast fashion hasn’t become the norm and the Flower Hmong are a beautiful example. This ethnic minority lives in the highlands of Northern Vietnam, where the women proudly wear their brightly colored dresses.

(Click on any image to open a gallery for better viewing.)

Every  Sunday they descend from the surrounding villages and hills, mostly by foot or motorbikes, to visit the weekly market at Bac Ha. Here they purchase or trade their produce, livestock, enjoy a pho and socialize with their friends. For us visitors it is a feast for the eye – everywhere you look there are fuchsia and turquoise bandanas bobbing along in the crowds. An intricately woven skirt, broad collar and sleeves over a blue top make up the vibrant ethnic dress of the Flower Hmong. A basket serving as a huge backpack and a small lime and pink crossover bag complete the stunning ensemble. The matching baby carriers are fit for royalty with their bright sequins and embroidery.

With my love of colors I am secretly hoping that one day the Flower Hmong’s exquisite fabrics will make their way into mainstream fashion. Not buying a single piece of textile at  the Bac Ha market is one of my biggest travel regrets, but luckily their pictures still manage to brighten up a dreary day like today.

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