Fanning fashion's cultural flame

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, December 2, 2019

[Photo provided to China Daily]

On the first day of November, Chinese womenswear fashion brand Yaying launched its 2020 haute couture collection in Beijing.

Set against the backdrop of the city center, on the rooftop of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the capital's Wangfujing area and overlooking the Forbidden City exactly one month after National Day celebrations, the show was a testament to the grandeur of the brand's vision and the global relevance of its exquisite Chinese culturally-inspired fashion.

This season, Chen Xi, the creative director of the brand, draws inspiration from the Forbidden City as not just a tribute to the finest Chinese aesthetics and craftsmanship, but also as a celebration of the Forbidden City's 600th anniversary next year, with a focus on the private collection of Chinese fans housed within the palace's museum.

With the theme of "Chinese Fans (Hua Shan)", the show and the collection seeks to renew tradition and reshape it for the present.

Fans are the epitome of Chinese culture with a long heritage, and are an excellent witness of time with many symbolic meanings in Chinese culture and tradition, especially among the former royal family as well as within art and culture-as seen in Xu Yang's classical painting Emperor Qianlong's Southern Inspection Tour.

From his research on the subject, Chen provides examples of particular fans that stood out among the paintings of both Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong, such as the big round ceremonial fan used for shade when they departed Beijing (once referred to as Jingshi); the folding fan that was popular among scholars of the time; and the small round fan the courtesans carried while on excursions to Yanyulou (a landmark building in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, that Qianlong visited eight times).

"These fans are beautiful, elegant and graceful, and we extracted elements from their outline or pattern and arranged them into a new form to produce a modern visual effect," Chen says.

The selection of the fans was not just a whim, either, according to Chen, who notes that he always wanted to design a collection inspired by the shapes, colors and designs of the artifacts, particularly citing their exquisite craftsmanship and a sense of duty to preserve that.

"We have a responsibility to preserve and develop these skills and traditions," he says, adding: "Yaying has always humbly dedicated ourselves to making good clothes, and we aim to continue passing on and renewing the concept and craftsmanship of Eastern royal aesthetics to our consumers."

In contrast to the impression of traditional Chinese aesthetics in the past, the brand employs light and bright colors as its main tone.

Drawing from the color palette of the Forbidden City, Chinese jade is complemented by the relaxing color of living coral, indigo blue and futuristic silver, a reference to the concept of time and to balancing modernity and Eastern aesthetics to tell a beautiful story of timeless Chinese elegance.

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