Myanmar's wedding fashions are paraded with a flourish ahead of the austerity of Buddhist lent
DANCERS WEARING emerald-green satin dresses move their hands in unison. The sequins on their outfits are arranged to resemble dragon scales, alongside skin-tight, long-sleeved tops and sarongs, in a dance known as the Nagar Ahla – Beauty of the Dragon. It evokes the elegance of a bygone era of Myanmar’s kings and queens.
The dancers from Yangon’s University of Culture performed at the opening the Amazing Wedding Show earlier this month.
The event filled Yangon’s prestigious National Theatre with attendees coming to the see more than 300 wedding dresses and evening gowns worn by famous models and singers. Weddings are revered occasions in Myanmar, and the show featured displays of traditional and Western styles by Aroma/Zulu – the latest in-vogue wedding-design firm.
“Our company’s slogan is ‘We use our heart for every customer’,” said Aroma/Zulu co-founder and makeup artist Ko Sein Linn. “This means we serve our customers’ desires with service from deep within our heart. We want every customer to be satisfied. Our regular customers rely on us for dress design, but for special occasions like weddings they want more. That’s why we got into the wedding business.”
Aroma/Zulu began as a beauty spa in 2008 and moved into weddings in 2011. It made its second appearance at the bridal show with new designs featuring long-sleeved silk outfits covered with scarves of golden sequins known as htain-me-thein, the traditional costume used by Myanmar brides. The groom’s attire consists of a long-sleeved, stiff-collared shirt called a titepon and a long sarong called a taung shay longyi, topped off with a headdress called a gaung baung.
Despite being relatively new, Aroma/Zulu is now one of the leading wedding-service providers in Myanmar. Many A-list models, actors and actresses performed on the catwalk, emulating the performance of a traditional wedding ceremony.
The bridal couple stands behind a flower girl, followed by bridesmaids, best man and parents. The show also displayed Western gowns designed by Aung Myat Thu of Aroma/Zulu, with snowy-white bodices and lace stockings. Miss Myanmar, Nang Khin Zayyar, modelled one dress.
Myanmarese traditional wedding dresses are ornamented with beads, crystals, sequins and various gems – rubies, emeralds and diamonds. They’re usually made of silk or hand-woven cheik. Cheik is still popular today and is worn by heads of state for special occasions.
Aye Wutyee Thaung, one of Myanmar’s leading actresses, often uses Aroma/Zulu dresses in her films. “I’m satisfied with its service. The staff usually help us at our shoots,” she said.
A combination of traditional and pop music made the show more active as the audience clapped along, the former accompanying the traditional htain-me-thein gowns while Western styles were worn to the beat of well-known pop songs.
“Myanmar fashion is on the way to improving,” Ko Sein Linn said. “Whereas designers had been strict about working within some cultures, now Myanmar women choose the best designs for them. This means the designers can be more innovative.”
Most weddings take place before Buddhist lent, when the monks cloister in their monasteries. The shows usually occur before the Warso full moon, which this year falls on July 22.
The last day of lent is the full moon of Thidingyut at the end of October, when people celebrate with a festival of lights and once again it’s an auspicious time to get married.