Toward an Aesthetic of Surfaces
Written by andrew bolton( britain ), translated byhu yang Published by hi na books/ hun an fine arts publishing house, September2017
For centuries, China has become known to the world through its cultural artifacts ranging from jade ware and porcelains to its movies of the last few decades, which have greatly inspired Western fashion.
In 2015, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the United States held a fashion exhibition titled “China: Through the Looking Glass,” featuring haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear pieces inspired by Chinese culture and flanked by the history of Chinese garments and masterpieces of Chinese and foreign art.
This book is a collection of 200 exquisite pictures from the exhibition taken by eminent British photographer Platon Antoniou, providing a glimpse of the clothes, paintings, porcelains, and movies at the exhibition—an interaction between Chinese culture and Western fashion and imagination. With images as its media, the book consists of two parts. The first was titled after From Emperor to Citizen: The Autobiography of Aisin-gioro Pu Yi published in 1964. It features fashion designs inspired by Emperor Xuantong, China’s last emperor, spanning the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Republic of China era (1912-1949), and the People’s Republic of China, including many pieces that exerted influence on Western designers such as the robes of the Manchus, modern qipao or cheongsam, and the Mao suit.
The second part was named after L’empire des Signes after the 1970 book by Roland Barthes. It features Western fashion fused with iconic Chinese culture, such as dragons, Chinese characters and patterns of blue and white porcelain.
The book also includes articles by renowned Chinese and foreign artists, such as Andrew Bolton, curator of the exhibition, and Hong Kong film director Wong Kar-wai, on their understanding of fashion, art and movies, in addition to an Andrew Bolton interview with distinguished British fashion designer John Galliano.
“With images as media, we aimed to establish new ideas about the relationship between the East and the West in the form of a dialogue,” explains Bolton.
“The images in the book span several centuries of exquisite Western fashion, art and movies, culminating in a wonderful mirage of China,” commented Christopher Lyon, a well-known French writer, in the journal Bookforum.
Author Andrew Bolton graduated from the British University of East Anglia with a master’s degree. He worked for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for nine years and joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2002. He currently serves as chief curator of the museum’s College of Fashion. Over the last few years, Bolton has organized several fashion exhibitions, published many books, and contributed to art and fashion publications.