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Traditional Chinese embroidery goes the fashion route

(People's Daily Online)    19:31, June 13, 2017

Remember Rihanna's yellow gown at the 2015 Met ball? Even though she wore it for a China-themed gala and stole the show on the red carpet, it didn't win much appreciation from Chinese viewers. Instead, it was considered an awkward example of Westerners' misconceptions about traditional Chinese culture.

What's the appropriate way to revitalize traditions? A recent fashion show at Prince Gong's mansion in Beijing may shed some light on this question. Various creations featuring traditional Chinese embroidery were showcased to celebrate China's national culture and heritage. 

Models wear traditional wedding dresses embroidered in the Chaozhou style, which is one of the top four embroidery styles in China.

A model wears a Suzhou embroidery creation. Embroidery is one of Suzhou's claims to fame. During the Qing Dynasty, the embroidered products used by the Chinese royal family were almost exclusively from Suzhou.

Models present creations featuring Bouyei embroidery. The Bouyei ethnic group lives in southern China and uses embroidery to decorate traditional clothing and household items.

The runway is not the ultimate destination for creations that borrow from Chinese intangible heritage; the real challenge is how to turn them into actual products available for the average customer, industry insiders noted.

Currently, an online handicraft workshop is in trial operation, giving fashion designers in China and overseas access to around 5,000 Chinese embroidery specialists and 3,000 embroidery patterns. So far, over 200 members of the workshop have received production orders. From there, the next step is to develop recognizable brands.

"If we only focus on production and ignore brand-building, we will lose the culture's added value," said Ai Feng, chairman of the board of experts of Brand China Industry Union. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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