What is it like to be a hanfu designer? Let’s take a look at Hanfu Shi Dai (汉服世代) interviews with four hanfu designers.
Kong Xin Yan (空心砚)
Hello, I’m Kong Xin Yan and I’ve been in touch with hanfu for more than 10 years! Over the years I have been concerned about the demand for modern hanfu and saw the potential market demand for non-antique hanfu, but there are many inconveniences in wearing traditional hanfu directly, which triggered my design inspiration and also formed my own design feature – “Shi Zhuang Han Cai (时装汉裁, tailoring fashion in Han style)”.
Traditional hanfu leaps directly from ancient times into modern times, missing the process of cultural renewal, and many styles are based on the ancient social background.
If we want to further develop hanfu, we have to think about these questions: How should traditional hanfu serve the current fast-paced society and what functions should it achieve in an era when there are noblemen like emperors, generals and princesses? “Shi Zhuang Han Cai” is my answer to these questions after thinking and practicing.
In fact, my family has been reluctant to wear hanfu for more than ten years, but they are happy to accept the concept of “Shi Zhuang Han Cai”, which changes the stereotypical concept of hanfu = ancient clothes, transforms the fashion categories in popular shopping malls into the principles of traditional hanfu tailoring, and absorbs the experience of fabric application, scene classification and color matching accumulated in the process of Western-style three-dimensional tailoring in the continuous adaptation to modern social life.
Among the many designs, the one I like the most is the ChaoMu series Han style sweatshirt, which uses the sewing thread produced by traditional hanfu cutting to form a black and white colors match at the back center seam, front placket, and joint sleeves.
Considering the daily right hand habit, the right sleeve and right placket of the clothes are more likely to get dirty, so let the black placket be in the front and the black joint sleeve be on the right, so that the whole piece of clothes is both bright and clean white, and not easily and obviously stained.
The collar neckline, sleeve cuffs and lower edge of the hem are all made of two white threads on a black background. The moderate elasticity of the threaded material also allows the wrists, neck, and waist to be surrounded in a more coordinated manner, which is the wisdom of sportswear design from modern baseball uniforms and school uniforms.
But the traditional hanfu tailoring is more respectful of the natural flowing lines, so the lower edge of the hem is smooth from the armpit to the bottom, so that the clothes can remain smooth in a sitting or standing position, which is the wisdom from the traditional hanfu tailoring. At the same time, the practice of crossover lacing makes the clothes quite adjustable.
Although I still have a lot of improvement in my design, but when I met a parent who didn’t know me, she pointed at my clothes and said to her children, “Look, this is your future hanfu school uniform.” I feel that my design has been recognized, which motivates me to go on with more determination.
Qin Ya Wen (秦亚文)
Hello, I am Qin Ya Wen. Writing, painting and playing the Qin are both my life and my expression. Design is also the same to me. When I draw, brush, paper and ink are actually the tools that can express what I have in mind. Design is no longer limited to pen and paper, but color matching, craftsmanship, silk thread, are all tools for me to “paint”.
Before designing each clothes, the hardest part is always choosing the theme. I try to accomplish what I have in mind through the clothes, trying to express some kind of grand idea, but also trying to focus on the present moment, lightly describing the life at this moment.
I chose the green calyx plum as the design element for Chu Shi Jia (处士家) when the plum trees in the courtyard were in their first buds. So the plum blossoms were blooming, and I was enjoying, describing, living and creating. This process is also a work of art for me.
To restore the color of plum blossom, one needs to have enough sensitivity and coordination of color. And to approach its temperament, one needs to have a mastery of different colors, fabrics under different luster, and the effects that can be presented by different processes. For me, the most difficult part is how to present the best effect when wearing it.
The design and production process will inevitably have some unexpected small conditions, such as the production of the Chu Shi Jia, but the master responsible for helping me weave fabric material hand injury, belongs to the long-term strain injury, will stop work for a period of time, the work schedule will be unavoidably delayed.
As with many traditional cultures, it takes years to pass on the work, and now that the masters are retiring and the younger ones are still growing, the problem of the old and the new needs to be solved. It is also a direction that I will try to find the answer afterwards.
Xing Jie (星杰)
Hello everyone, I am Xingjie, a fashion designer who wants to do original Chinese clothing design. As a fashion design student, I found during my studies that my school education favored western tailoring and design, which inspired me to think about original design, and by coincidence I discovered the beauty of ethnic clothing and decided to design hanfu since then.
The hanfu I design is mainly related to traditional Chinese culture, inspired by stories of historical figures, poems and songs, and national treasures. After researching modern hanfu on the market, I referred to traditional hanfu to integrate the design and eventually found my own style.
This hanfu wedding dress uses the traditional color scheme of red male and green female, and the design is inspired by the Song Dynasty Zhang Yuniang. Her life story brought me endless imagination in the design of the pattern, including the butterfly element from her poignant love story, which is comparable to that of Liang Zhu. When I participated in the hanfu design competition, this design stood out and the finished product was made, which gave me a special sense of accomplishment.
During my design journey, I have collaborated with fans on designs. Listening to the fans tell me their stories, there were many moments that moved me to create many creative designs with endless inspiration.I can’t tell you the sense of accomplishment when these designs are actually worn by Tongpao.
Nowadays, we live in a colorful era, and the development of hanfu will be based on the traditional form to make innovation, more everyday and diversified, and the public will accept it and love it more and more.
With the efforts of every designer, Chinese original design brands will become more and more mature and strong, and Chinese clothing craft design will surely be enjoyed by more and more people.
Yan Ji (严姬)
Hello, I am Yan Ji, a researcher of traditional Chinese costume and etiquette culture, a costume designer, and the administrator of Tianhan Ethnic Culture Network, dedicated to the study of hanfu and the Chinese culture behind it.
As a clothing major, I have been reading a lot of historical materials and observing archaeological relics for a long time, and under the refinement of time and Chinese culture, I have gradually figured out my own design style.
One of my design features is exclusive customization. The design plays a very important role in making the hanfu look natural and elegant, even if it is the same person and the same style, it is necessary to make a new version according to the fabric and color style.
The second is to name each set of work. I started making hanfu in 2005, when there were very few hanfu available on the market, and even fewer hanfu were named, so I liked to pick up words from various poems and songs, myths and legends that either matched the color scheme of the clothes, or matched the cultural ideas to be expressed by the clothes, or blended with their overall style, to name the clothes I designed.
Thirdly, the fine craftsmanship in the production process. The most accomplished work is the production of Zhou dynasty Xuan Duan (玄端) and Gui Yi (袿衣), recorded in the canonical texts, combined with modern archaeological findings.
My contact with hanfu also started from zero, and my knowledge of Chinese culture and hanfu came after a long time of studying classics and observing cultural relics, which was both boring and fun.
Every part of the hanfu is full of countless cultural meanings, and it is not just a piece of clothing to cover the cold and the heat. Therefore, I hope that more people will explore and understand the Chinese culture behind the hanfu.
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