Time-honored attire meets high fashion
Models walked down the catwalk like rainbows following a storm, their colorful garments flapping in the wind and their confidence beaming like sun rays breaking through the clouds. A fashion show in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, on Sept 2 featured traditional Tibetan ethnic costumes, but with a 21st-century flair.
The fashion show was held as part of Shoton Festival, which began on Sept 1.
The festival, also known as the Yogurt Banquet Festival, is a week-long extravaganza that has been held since the 11th century. It was originally a religious occasion when locals would offer yogurt to monks who had finished their meditation retreats.
This year’s event featured Tibetan opera performances, hiking and exhibitions featuring thangka, paintings and photographs. Last year, more than 200,000 people visited Lhasa for the festival.
Penpa Tashi, 21, was one of the models involved in the fashion show. In an exquisite, ankle- length golden silk robe, the Xizang Minzu University student exuded confidence and poise as she walked down the seven-meter-long redcarpeted catwalk. Her gracefulness is no surprise, Penpa is an old hand at this, having dabbled in modeling for years, and is a three-time festival veteran.
“Traditional Tibetan clothes are often exquisite and sumptuous, and what I wore today was a prime example of that,” Penpa said.
“It was a great show,” said Chen, a tourist from neighboring Sichuan province. “I really liked what I saw, and I ordered some Tibetan clothes to wear for celebrations at home.”
Among the audience were many of the older Tibetan generation, who were in awe at the way in which the designers had knitted together the old and new to create something reflective of Tibet, where tradition and modernity meet.
“I am so very proud that our ethnic clothes are on display,” said Pasang, a local who watched the show. “Our clothes are a reflection of our wisdom, creativity and artistic taste.”
The clothes were traditional, but looked quite modern and fashionable.”
Model Thubten Gyatso was determined to make this year’s show one of the best he has ever walked in.
“What I wore today was better quality and more fashionable than anything I have worn for past shows,” Thubten said. “The clothes were traditional, but looked quite modern and fashionable.”
There are more than 20 types of Tibetan ethnic clothes, according to government figures. In Lhasa, for example, the traditional attire is a long, heavy robe, which is worn with a thick, wide material belt. It features a wide, round collar and is very practical during the winter months as it keeps out the bitter cold.
Designer Tashi said that all the clothes on show were altered to reflect modern sartorial trends.
“I tried to combine traditional craftsmanship with contemporary fashion styles,” he said. “I hope that by doing so, I am not only promoting our culture, but helping to promote Tibetan costume to the younger generation.”
A Tibetan girl (top) walks the catwalk at the fashion show. Above: A Tibetan man displays his traditional costume at the fashion show.