Dream of Red Mansions is a spectacular version of a Kunqu opera brought to the screen by an acclaimed writer-director. It’s adapted from one of China’s most popular novels, written in the mid-18th century, which tells the story of the changing fortunes of the Jia Family, focusing on the romantic rivalry and friendship among Jia Baoyu, Lin Daiyu and Xue Baochai.
UNESCO recognised Kunqu as a ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’. It is one of the oldest extant forms of Chinese opera. The style originated in the Wu cultural area.
Nina as Rosaline in Love’s Labour’s Lost for The Royal Shakespeare Company in 2008.
I pride myself on always having words to describe something and yet they have failed me, I feel at an utter loss to describe the glory of this gown.
The romantic in me notes the symbolism of the butterfly. The metamorphosis from a child to a married woman. This gown reverberates with life and brings tears to my eyes.
I worry that sometimes I am to sensitive. I find that in my line of work I often have to think of the costume as it’s own entity, wondering about the life of the person who these items once adorned lead to so many questions. Many times I have wished that I had not pursued those thoughts to find out more on their life. I have been moved to tears of sorrow and anger at the unfairness of the treatment of women who came before me. I have discovered that they were prisoners in their beautiful silks, ensnared in brightly woven textiles, pinned alive and struggling for all to admire until at last they accepted their crepe veils and widows weeds before leaving this plane a broken being.
Yet I find myself hoping with every fibre of my being that whoever this woman was she had a beautiful and happy life. That the butterfly that graced the bodice on her wedding gown symbolized more than decoration, that it was true freedom from the cocoon. I’ll never know for sure but I will hope.
Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum
This gorgeous blue-grey silk corset is going home with it new mom today!! I can’t wait!! #corset #corsetiereofchicago #corsetiere #silk #embroidery #vintageinspired
Saw a video on Chinese fashion through the dynasties. To be frank, it was pretty inaccurate; one of the reasons was that of the choice of photographs was terrible. Those are modern clothings, and most of them are not even hanfu.
Modern hanfu are very different from the historical clothing although they might carried description like “Tang style”. Retro fashion doesn’t mean one actually totally covered in one’s grandparents old clothings. In addition, fashion changes through time. Trying to represent a dynasty, which was usually period of a few hundreds years, is like using 80s neon footless tights to summarize everything people wore for the last 300 years.
I am just going to briefly go through an example from each period style. I am not professional as well. Here are a book on historical clothings with lots of artefact pictures (中国织绣服饰全集) and a website with lots of modern hanfu (汉服荟) for one to observe the difference onerself.
Cape Town-based Congolese artist Zemba Luzamba's series titled La Sape, focusing on the Sapeur culture in Congo where men take pride in staying immaculately dressed in “gentleman-ly attire” mainly of Western origin.