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Shenyun Performing Arts World Tour

September 2013, New York, USA

Appreciation of the Designs from the First Han Couture Design Competition (2)

--Women's Apparel from Tang Dynasty

Amy Lee

In 2008, the first Global Han Couture Design Competition featured many traditional Chinese style designs. Though the cutting is flat surface, the fitting is not easy. For proper fitting, one should never apply methods used in the West. The Han clothing and the Western clothing are of two different systems based on the perspectives of structure or aesthetics.

In Han clothing, the sleeves and the main body are connected, cut from one piece of fabric. In ancient times, sleeves were called mei, connected mei. Mei means connecting together and not separating. The idiom “Open a sleeve and provides shade” describes how big a sleeve can be. Fat sleeves were worn by scholars and narrow sleeves worn by the laborers. No matter what size the sleeves are, they connect with the main body. If the fabric is not wide enough, one should splice it from the forearm. However, the way to splice it in Han dressing is totally different from the way in the Western style. If you add the Western method of cutting or concept of aesthetics to Han clothing, it will be quite messed-up. If you add anything from another nationality to Han clothing, it will mix with characteristics of another culture, thus it can no longer represent traditional Han clothing; if you add modern artistic value into Han clothing, you also violate the principle of etiquette in Han clothing.

林雪綿 作品
Design by Xuemian Lin

林詩昌 作品
Design by Shichang Lin

Elsie He 作品
Design by Elsie He

Tang Dynasty's clothing is unprecedented in terms of style, structure, color, materials and decorative accessories. They are refreshing, broad-minded, graceful and regal, optimistic and of progressive qualities. Tang Dynasty interacted with other tribes and nationalities a lot and had strong influence on fashion around the world. For example, Japanese kimono and Korean clothing imitated clothes from Tang and Ming palaces, and improved further with their own characteristics. What we advocate is the return of our traditional Han couture without any changes or variations.

From the wall paintings inside the Dunhuang Cave, one can see the costumes of Tang Dynasty. The clothing of celestial maidens, flying or playing with musical instruments, is very similar to that of women from Tang Dynasty. In other words, the ladies from Tang Dynasty wore something very close to celestial maidens from Heaven. As a result, Tang Dynasty left elegant and noble attire and expression of beauty for generations to come.

In order to understand what traditional Han Couture is, one must understand both the techniques to make Han Couture clothes and the principles of harmony between man and nature, which is reflected when wearing Han Couture clothes.

The second annual Global Han Couture Design Competition was kicked off during the spring season of 2009. We sincerely invite all interested parties to participate. NTDTV organizes this event with an intention to promote the appreciation of traditional Han Couture worldwide, and to spread the goodness and beauty of Han couture. The final runway show of this competition will take place on September 10-11, during the New York fashion week. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Some changes have been added to the regulations of this competition. Deadline to submit sketches is May 15, 2009. For detailed information, please check: