Hey everyone! College applications have been kicking my ass for the past few months so I've been pretty silent for a while, but I'm finally done—which means more hanfu content for you all to see!
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m redsugar, or Tangtang (or a bajillion other variants of red and sugar in multiple languages that people have given to me as nicknames)! I’m a gender fluid Taiwanese-American hanfu designer based in the US. I’ve been part of the Newhanfu community for a couple years now and written extensively about my historical research and designs.
Today I’m going to give you all a little summary of the designs modeled in our January 2023 model call outing! This includes five out of my eight 2023 Lunar New Year collection, photographed at the Chinese Cultural Garden in San Jose. Special thanks to all the participants for modeling these samples, and hope you guys all had plenty of fun!
Let’s get to it then~
機杼/JIZHU (modeled by 采蘑菇的小姑娘背着一只大狂猪)
First up is Jizhu! This is a late Ming Dynasty four-piece set consisting of a 百迭裙/百迭裙/bai3 die2 qun2/hundred-layered skirt, a 立領衫/立领衫/li4 ling3 shan1/standing collar top, a waist tie, and a 比甲/比甲/bi3 jia3/bijia vest with a pocket, the star of the show. The name 機杼/ji1 zhu4/Jizhu essentially translates to loom. Textile fabrication was a huge part of Chinese history. In the Ming Dynasty, methods like jacquard satin, brocade, and other iconic textiles were developed, and since it’s a bit more contemporary compared to the other dynasties, the Ming Dynasty has the most complete fabric artifacts that we can really see the details of.
The baidiequn is a Song-Ming Dynasty skirt (mostly Song, it’s just easier to put on than the mamianqun and you barely see any of it at the bottom of the outfit anyway so I went with the easier one) with one smooth surface at the front and narrow pleats covering the rest of the skirt. This one is made of a beautiful crimson satin with a diagonal damask pattern—easy to pair with anything else should you like to! The lilingshan in this set is a neutral colored long top made with the less commonly seen gongdaixiu or bow sleeves, a smaller and more convenient version of the pipaxiu usually seen in Ming Dynasty tops. The collar and cuffs are made of red accents matching the skirt, and this style of standing collar is called 斜襟/xie2 jin4/diagonal lapel, where the clothing comes diagonally from the neck to the side and is secured in place by ties.
The accent piece is the bijia, or vest, a sleeveless asymmetrical piece made with a quilted lining for warmth in the winter. The checkerboard bunny pattern was hand-drawn by myself, designed with the year of the rabbit in mind, and the cutest rabbit clasp is sewn into the front! There’s also a giant pocket on the patterned side, both for utility and for aesthetic.
夢廣寒/MENGGUANGHAN (modeled by an_gel.a_q)
A crowd favorite, Mengguanghan is based off of Jin Dynasty artifacts found in the Astana cemetery and various outskirting regions like Xinjiang. The Wei Jin Northern/Southern Dynasties had a lot of outside influence from various cultures and exchanged styles with different groups of people, making it one of the most diverse but least clearly understood dynasties of hanfu. The name Mengguanghan refers the name of the palace that the moon immortal Chang’e lives in after she floated away from the mortal realm, also known as the moon palace. The ethereal beauty of this set reflects the dreamy untouchable beauty of the moon, and matches the hanfu trends from the 2010’s based on guzhuang, TV dramas and Chinese fantasy clothing.
The top features the classic three-layered collar ru of Jin Dynasty clothing trends, where three layers of tops are stacked on top of each other, with each outer piece’s collar slightly lower than the previous one so that all three layers can be seen exposed at the neck. The inner layer is made of textured cotton with the iconic but rarely seen curved collar, a collar resembling the combination between a turtleneck and a cross-collar top, the middle of original patterned polyester, and the outer layer of ultra-thin tencel chiffon. The sleeves are especially long for these three tops.
The skirt is a poqun, or broken skirt, with eight pieces alternating patterns. A gold and red woven trim decorates the skirt head, matching the outer ru’s collar and cuffs. It also has pockets! All together this makes an ethereal four-piece set perfect for those who want the dreamy immortal look inspired by xianxia dramas. It’s also quite warm given the extensive layering. an_gel.a_q did an amazing job modeling this set, as she’s a former dancer.
Note: This set is historically unisex! Wear whatever you want, of course, I just see a lot of people making that mistake ^^
撲朔/PUSHUO (modeled by Tangtang)
Hey look it’s me! This is probably the simplest set out of all of them, a Tang Dynasty unisex quekuapao, a type of round-collar robe that was originally only masculine but became popular with women in the middle of the Tang Dynasty. This one features an asymmetrical design pieced together with two different fabrics, one with a very subtle original medallion print and one solid burnt red-orange satin. If you look very carefully, you’ll see tiny rabbit designs in the medallions!
The name Pushuo comes from the four-word saying 撲朔迷離/pu2 shuo4 mi2 li2 from the Ballad of Mulan, the iconic legend of Hua Mulan (or Fa Mulan depending on what dialect you’re looking at) popularized in contemporary media. The saying comes from the end of the poem, a passage that refers to two rabbits hopping along next to each other, one male and one female, saying that it’s impossible to tell which is which as they move together. This reflects the history of the quekuapao, a symbol of the fluidity of Tang Dynasty culture and cultural gender norms.
This is a simpler set that I modeled with a couple of random accessories from my personal collection—I forgot where I got them, but I think the belt and shawl make it look super cool. I was very sad that I did not have my sword with me that way, but I think the photos still turned out pretty nice. This robe only has one pocket, but it’s so big that I can fit both my hands in it with no problems. I don’t have that much to say on this one, but here are some medallion pattern artifacts that I used as inspiration for the fabric:
Probably one of the most colorful and intricate sets I’ve ever designed, if you’re looking for celebration, Yingchun is where you’ll find it! Making use of the red-green color palette popular through history, Yingchun is an early Ming Dynasty outfit inspired by imperial official uniforms and also Dunhuang color palettes. The name literally just means welcoming the summer—not that much to elaborate on here.
The bottom piece for this is the iconic 馬面裙/马面裙/ma3 mian4 qun2/horse-faced skirt, made of a very heavy 200D polyester sure to keep you warm. It also has two hidden pockets, because what is the point of life if you don’t have pockets? The inner top is a cross-collar Ming Dynasty top that peeks out from under the outer layer a little bit—it’s a slightly brighter solid red chiffon for contrast against the muted skirt.
The accent piece that really stands out from the crowd is the 补服/bu3 fu2/appliqued top that serves as the outer layer. It’s lined with quilted fabric and keeps you very warm, with a square collar and trims matching the other pieces in the outfit. The bufu is a piece referenced off of Ming Dynasty official’s clothes, featuring a 补子/buzi in either a square or round shape sewn in the middle of the top. The buzi on the Yingchun bufu is embroidered in a pattern I hand-drew with inspiration from Dunhuang paintings and a rabbit theme to celebrate the year of the rabbit.
嬋娟/CHANJUAN (modeled by Yulan)
Last but not least is another crowd favorite, Chanjuan. Although it looks very modern compared to the other pieces in the collection, Chanjuan’s construction is actually one of the most historically accurate out of the bunch, referenced from southern Song Dynasty tombs but decorated with more modern-looking asymmetrical fabrics. The name Chanjuan refers to a poetic phrase often used to describe the beauty of a graceful woman, the moon, or flowers. The epitome of Song Dynasty feminine fashion trends, this set uses corduroy and an original flower rabbit pattern printed on satin to modernize the look, while referencing the Tieguaimu tomb changshan and the classic feijixiu airplane sleeve inner layer.
The lesser-known counterpart to the Changgansi changshan is the Tieguaimu changshan, the pattern used for the corduroy outer layer of this set. I added pockets, because again pockets are awesome. The Tieguaimu changshan is slightly less bulky and narrower than the changgansi version, perfect for the thicker fabric to keep you warm in the winter. Taking off the outer layer reveals the contrasting colors on the inside. The inner top is worn in a way that mimics cross-collar tops: women did not wear true cross collars in the Song Dynasty, but crossed the lapels of parallel-collar tops to mimic the look, tucked into the skirt to keep it in place.
This is the only set with two layers on the bottom: the inner layer is a simple pleated skirt, while the outer layer is a modified two-piece skirt, made of one rectangular piece of flat corduroy and one pleated piece of satin. Plus there’s yet another pocket hidden in the corduroy piece! The end silhouette is a sort of mermaid skirt, with the outer skirt closer to the body and the inner skirt peeking out from the bottom.
Fun fact, Yulan got her wisdom teeth pulled right before this shoot, so we had to kind of photoshop her face back to its original size… if you see some weird warping around the earrings, that’s why.
Okay, that's all! Hope you guys enjoyed these photos as much as we liked taking them. Can't wait for the new year!