A new look

Hanfu cat­walk show presents beauty and in­no­va­tion of China’s tra­di­tional cloth­ing

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Huang Lan­lan

On a softly lit stage, mod­els in ex­quis­ite tra­di­tional cos­tumes walk down the run­way. Ac­com­pa­nied by dy­namic back­ground mu­sic, these young men and women with elab­o­rate hair­styles and del­i­cate makeup pose in turn, giv­ing the au­di­ence a bright, con­fi­dent smile. On the evening of Satur­day, a hanfu-themed cat­walk show took place in down­town Jing'an district, at which dozens of artists, pro­fes­sional mod­els as well as In­ter­net celebri­ties to­gether dis­played the beauty of hanfu, the tra­di­tional cloth­ing of China's Han eth­nic group

Un­der the theme “a new look of tra­di­tion,” the event was held to show not only what an­cient Chi­nese cos­tumes looked like and the rich cul­ture be­hind them, but also how peo­ple can make a com­bi­na­tion of tra­di­tional de­sign el­e­ments and present-day cloth­ing style, re­ju­ve­nat­ing mil­len­nia-old hanfu in mod­ern life.

Many Chi­nese think that hanfu, usu­ally with big sleeves and long dress trains, is beau­ti­ful yet in­con­ve­nient. Hanfu’s floor-length dresses, for in­stance, were de­signed thou­sands of years ago to hide peo­ple’s feet, as an­cient Chi­nese be­lieved it was rude and im­po­lite to show one’s feet in pub­lic.

How­ever nowa­days, when miniskirts are so pop­u­lar among young women, wear­ing an old-style hanfu skirt can feel a bit slug­gish and stuffy.

“I do like hanfu, but how can I ride a bike, go skate­board­ing or even eas­ily walk up­stairs with an overly long skirt?” a ne­ti­zen wrote on Weibo, which was echoed by other hanfu en­thu­si­asts.

Cater­ing to mod­ern peo­ple’s tastes and pref­er­ences, many hanfu sell­ers mod­ify their prod­ucts by short­en­ing the lengths of sleeves and skirts. Some trend­ing cloth­ing el­e­ments, such as geo­met­ric pat­terns, polka dots and lace also in­spire to­day’s hanfu de­sign­ers to en­rich their works.

At Sun­day’s show, two pop­u­lar hanfu brands dis­played their mod­i­fied hanfu, which were cre­atively worn by mod­els in a mix-and-match style along with T-shirts, jeans, high heels and sun­glasses.

Cre­ative and con­fi­dent

“We have to ac­knowl­edge that most hanfu in an­cient times, es­pe­cially the clothes worn by the up­per class, were usu­ally de­signed to be over­sized and in­con­ve­nient,” said in­vited guest Li Yat­ing, who be­came in­ter­ested in hanfu in 2009. “I per­son­ally ad­vo­cate we make some in­no­va­tions in this old cloth­ing sys­tem.”

Sit­ting next to her was Yang Na, au­thor of the book Hanfu’s Re­nais­sance, who agreed.

“By main­tain­ing hanfu’s ba­sic char­ac­ter­is­tics such as jiaol­ing (cross­ing col­lar, mean­ing two parts of the clothes over­lap­ping on the front) and youren (right front, mean­ing the cross­ing al­ways on one’s right side), I think we can prop­erly add some mod­ern el­e­ments to it, in­clud­ing but­tons and zip­pers, mak­ing hanfu more ac­cept­able to or­di­nary peo­ple nowa­days,” Yang said.

Apart from cat­walk shows, the event also in­vited well-known de­signer Li Dengt­ing and renowned Kunqu Opera per­former Zhang Jun to share with the au­di­ence their ideas on the bal­ance be­tween tra­di­tion and in­no­va­tion

“There’s lots to dig and dis­cover in tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture, yet many of which should be re­forged to be bet­ter adapted to our daily life,” said Li, who pre­sented a few self-de­signed suits on stage. “By keep­ing the essence, we can build a new aes­thetic sys­tem or style for our tra­di­tional cos­tume that keeps pace with the times.”

Zhang cre­atively per­formed a small part of the Ming Dy­nasty (1368–1644 Kunqu Opera Peony Pav­il­ion on­stage. along with a mod­ernly dressed vi­o­lin­ist.

“To­day the tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture can be pre­sented in var­i­ous ways, and we should have an open at­ti­tude to­ward it,” he said. “The more we un­der­stand and ad­mire our tra­di­tional cul­ture, the more cre­atively and con­fi­dently we can show and pro­mote it."

Tra­di­tional cos­tume day

The event was or­ga­nized by bili­bili.com, an on­line stream­ing plat­form and co-founder of the first-ever Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Cos­tume Day that fell on April 18 this year.

The Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Cos­tume Day, jointly held by the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Youth League and bili­bili.com, is set on each year’s Shangsi Fes­ti­val (the third day of the third lu­nar month) to en­cour­age young Chi­nese to wear tra­di­tional cloth­ing.

This year, the event was held in Xi’an, North­west China’s Shaanxi Prov­ince, on April 18. It dis­played a sim­i­lar hanfu cat­walk show there, which at­tracted some 18.67 mil­lion view­ers on­line.

Photo: Zhao Ying/GT

Per­form­ers wear­ing mod­i­fied Hanfu dance on the stage

Photos: Feng Yu and Zhao Ying/GT

Main: Kunqu Opera artist Zhang Jun Clock­wise from top right: Per­form­ers dressed in hanfu; Bili­bili staff pose in hanfu. Child mod­els read­ing for the au­di­ence; A woman on the cat­walk

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