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Miss Vietnam Translates Hanoi’s Essence into a Fragrance

A spring wind eases through the trees surrounding Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake, tussling the hem of a woman’s ao tu than as she pauses to stare across the dusk-darkened water, lost in thought.

Drifting into the sophisticated city from the rural outskirts, the breeze carries a faint whisper of sweet rose and violet, traces of which catch in the women’s hair as it flutters beneath a non quai thao; it’s a scene as easy to imagine taking place today as 100 years ago. Hanoi, one of three signature Miss Vietnam perfumes, aims to capture this moment in the form of a scent. The Vietnamese fragrances, held in elegant Minh Long ceramic bottles, are a perfect way to gift this romantic imagining of the city.

For centuries, people have used aromatic oils, flowers, herbs and fruits to add an alluring scent to their presence. Since the 1400s, Europe has dominated the international market in producing perfumes and, as with other cosmetics, Vietnam relied heavily on foreign producers. In recent years, however, local companies have begun making and selling their own perfumes, with Saigon Cosmetic Corporation (SCC) helping to lead the way. 

For their Miss Vietnam collection, which draws inspiration from three of the nation’s most alluring cities - Hanoi, Saigon and Hue - SCC worked with several high-profile French and European perfumers. To arrive on the Miss Hanoi scent, they offered a few emblematic elements of the city: strolling through the old town’s romantically cramped streets, savoring sweet butter candy with a cup of warm tea on a cool afternoon, and admiring the traditional architecture at the Temple of Literature, Hanoi Citadel and One Pillar Pagoda. The brand then underwent a careful back and forth with the perfumers, adjusting the various floral notes that would most appeal to their intended customers: people with a profound connection to the city that want to take it with them wherever their travels may lead. The resulting fragrance is a delicate balance of rose, violet and light musk. By contrast, the Hue fragrance features bergamot orange, lotus, rose and cedarwood, while Saigon contains bright citrus and lime with notes of jasmine, narcissus and patchouli.

The Miss Vietnam containers are as carefully designed as the aromas. Instead of conventional glass, the perfumes are held in Minh Long porcelain. The ceramics reflect centuries of traditional craftsmanship passed down from generation to generation. Similar to the perfumes, a Vietnamese fashion designer was asked to look to each of the three city’s streets for colors and clothing that embody their unique spirit. Therefore, the bottle for Hanoi depicts a woman wearing an ao tu than. The decidedly northern garment predates the more famous ao dai, and people wore simple colored ones for daily life and more extravagant versions for weddings and special occasions. The city’s traditional sense of innocence and grace is reflected in the pink color. Meanwhile, the other two bottles are clad in ao dai - Hue’s a namesake purple variety, while Saigon’s sleek green version represents the city’s more forward-looking and international style.

Since Miss Vietnam is often given as gifts, the packaging is an extremely important element. The minimalist boxes, designed by international specialist - Centdegres, featuring iconic images from each of the three cities. Hanoi’s depicts the lotus flowers that grow in peaceful ponds throughout the capital, while Hue features the bamboo trees that sprout around the Citadel and Saigon features the apricot trees that brighten city streets during Tet. 

People tasked with giving souvenirs to loved ones hope to share what they find so special about the country and are drawn to Miss Vietnam’s quality and value as an item to both display and use every day. The Eau de parfum lasts for up to eight hours, allowing one to keep the unmistakable grace of Hanoi, Hue or Saigon with them for an entire evening. Available online through Shopee, at Hoarient retail stores or elsewhere, they make for unique and elegant gifts to give to friends and family, or keep for oneself. 

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