The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum is to have its very own silk road a fashion runway with leaders dressed up in national costume, to show the solidarity of the Pacific Rim.
After Sunday's Hanoi meeting, the 21 APEC leaders a diverse selection spanning President Hu Jintao and the US's George W. Bush, through to Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Michael Somare and Peru's President Alan Garcia will don Viet Nam's ao dai silk tunic for the closing ceremony.
The leaders customarily make an appearance in local attire at the annual meeting. Last year, they wore the silky wide-sleeved "dumagi" jacket in South Korea's Pusan.
At previous forums they have worn short-sleeved Thai silk shirts, Chinese silk jackets, Indonesian silk batik and Malaysian silk.
At the first APEC meeting in 1993, hosted by Bill Clinton in Seattle, the delegates wore bombardier jackets for the class photo outside in the wintry air.
Since then, they have worn Philippine barong shirts, kiwi sailing suits and Mexican ponchos.
APEC organizers said that in addition to the silk brocade ao dai, the leaders could also put on Vietnamese style turbans, adding to a haberdashery trend that saw them sporting Chilean-style sombreros in 2004.
The ao dai was worn in feudal Viet Nam, with yellow reserved for the King, purple and red for high-ranking palace officials and blue for petty court officials.
The male version of the ao dai is a long tunic with slits on either side, white trousers and a turban with wooden clogs or shoes. The woman's version is almost the same, except it's a tighter fit.
Organizers said the leaders can choose their own colour of ao dai from yellow, red, blue and green.
There are also souvenirs for guests, including miniature boats made from wood and silver, and Vietnamese-English photo albums.
(China Daily 11/15/2006 page6)