The hanfu culture is no longer just a celebration for a small group of people; an increasing number of ordinary individuals are now sharing their hanfu experiences through creative short videos, integrating hanfu into their daily lives. At the same time, the seemingly unrelated realms of hanfu and fashion have also begun to merge.
Hanfu covers in fashion magazines have sparked discussions within the hanfu community, fashion circles, and academic circles alike. Among them, we can find replicas, traditional designs, and fusion styles of hanfu. Dongjin Shangyu has compiled a collection of fashionable magazine spreads featuring hanfu throughout the years for you.
Hanfu in 2013 "FHM"
Ten years ago, social networks were not as active as they are today. However, even at that time these three photos broke through the aesthetic norms of the hanfu community and even attracted attention from the media industry. One of these works was used as a cover photo in Issue 112 of "CHINESE HERITAGE" magazine.
At that time, Yu Lingyuan was responsible for this photoshoot and said: "The structure of Western suits is similar to Western sculpture - it is very complex in terms of craftsmanship and has a three-dimensional quality. However, what makes Chinese traditional clothing interesting is that it is almost flat-shaped; I found it quite fascinating. We happened to know the team specializing in ancient Chinese costumes (now known as Zhuang Su Fu Yuan, costume restoration team), so we borrowed three sets corresponding to different dynasties - Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, Ming Dynasty - with which we could conduct a simple shoot."
The male model's appearance in these photos exudes elegance and simplicity; even the color choices aim for historical accuracy. The person in charge put great effort into understanding not only costumes but also props and even interpreting subtle meanings behind various poses by models themselves while fully respecting historical accuracy.
Interestingly, after "FHM" magazine's exploration of hanfu in 2013, fashion media did not continue to delve into hanfu topics. The appearance of hanfu in fashion media was only a fleeting moment and when it reappeared again, it was already 2019.
Hanfu in 2019 "CIQI CHINA"
In March 2019, "CIQI CHINA" released an article titled "Modern China · Flourishing Tang Fashion | Practice the Inner Self to Become a Tang Dynasty Celebrity." This was the first time that hanfu elements were incorporated into the "Modern China" section of the magazine. They invited renowned experts in hanfu costume restoration, Yangmei Jianwu, as well as Jia Lei, who has immersed himself in stage and traditional makeup styling for many years.
In October 2020, "CIQI CHINA" once again published two articles: "Modern China x Yi Guan Zhi | OOTD of a Northern Wei Blogger," and "Modern China · Mulan | 1500 Years Ago, We Already Had Independent Women." Through a perspective of restoration, they explored the authentic styles of the Xianbei people during the early and late periods of the Northern Wei dynasty and presented a modern image of Mulan.
Herein, Mars-Z-Mars, the director of photography shared his insights on shooting hanfu: "When it comes to hanfu-related photoshoots, storytelling is essential in presenting captivating content. The key lies in capturing artistic imagery through establishing relationships between individuals and their surroundings; this requires great effort. The concepts of emptiness and abstraction are crucial in traditional Chinese aesthetics as they allow room for imagination and empathy among viewers."
"Of course, precise interpretation by models is also paramount. Unlike modern fashion shoots where attention focuses primarily on garments themselves; here we emphasize portraying characters within a narrative context. I believe adopting a more cinematic perspective with lenses can better convey this sense of storytelling while making both characters and costumes come alive."
Hanfu in 2021 - "HER STYLE"
Moving forward to 2021 - in the August issue of "HER STYLE," they featured a special section titled "Dressed in Grand Tang Glory · Early Tang Dynasty · Dancing Girls." They invited the Yangmei Jianwu team to conduct several photoshoots showcasing Tang dynasty women's fashion.
Hanfu in 2021/2023 "Mini BAZAAR"
In 2021, Mini BAZAAR released three sets of fashion hanfu photography, which quickly became the center of attention. As the planner, Wang Hao admitted to feeling very anxious before the release of these photos. "Before the release, we knew that this set of hanfu photography might be discussed and controversial. The hanfu community has matured gradually, and now everyone may pay more attention to these topics due to the current public opinion environment. But I think it's an attempt. Therefore, criticism and praise are both good things."
The entire hanfu special topic consists of three sets of photoshoots taken in different locations, each with a completely different style and atmosphere. Among them, the restoration costumes in the supermodel group that received the most online comments were shot at Yunzhong Daji Scenic Area in Lishui City, Zhejiang Province; the mixed-style hanfu worn by artists was shot in a courtyard in Beijing; and another set featuring modern combinations of model's outfits with hanfu was photographed in Chengdu.
"After the release of all pictures, there was much discussion about the restoration group. Yunzhong Daji Scenic Area still preserves ancient architecture quite intactly and possesses a quaint charm; therefore we chose this place for shooting as it is closer to history. However, the weather during shooting was bad as it kept raining continuously, and combined with flash photography, it resulted in darker, colder tones throughout the entire series. Actually, the styling for restoration group's hanfu costumes was meticulously done, and Yangmei Jianwu team was invited to oversee the overall appearance."
"The models selected for this shoot deliberately avoided those with highly distinct personalities seen frequently in fashion shoots, but rather chose models considered beautiful by both the general public and the fashion circle. The photographer also specifically sought someone familiar who had certain understanding of their work style but did not specialize in ancient style photography. This was alsod one to avoid creating images that everyone could easily imagine, hoping for something new."
Yangmei Jianwu team selected relatively simple and clean costumes, starting from the concepts of authentic and daily life. For example, in the Wei-Jin period, a male costume resembling a peasant's attire was chosen, which goes against our usual impression of elegant Wei-Jin nobles. Model Zhang Zilin's outfit also depicted the dress of an ordinary woman during the Wei-Jin era using batik dyeing techniques. Compared to lavish noble costumes, the team wanted to convey images that had not been presented before but were more closely related to the lives of ancient people.
Among these three sets of hanfu photography, the one featuring artists wearing mixed-style hanfu in Beijing was generally accepted by the public; however, the restoration group received much higher levels of discussion. Wang Hao said, "In summary, I feel that the public still prefers beauty and elegance under the main stream aesthetic, but we believe that more people should try different styles.
Actually, some people in the hanfu community are some what conservative, and they hope that hanfu should be worn in the manner of ancient times. But I think if we want hanfu culture to develop further, it should be more integrated into daily life. That's why we came up with the idea of mix-and-match, to combine hanfu with fashion without altering its original form, and integrate it with contemporary lifestyles.
"Therefore, based on such ideas, Mini BAZAAR created interesting scenes where artists wear Hanfu while riding electric bikes, and even more exaggerated modern mix-and-match photoshoots featuring models and hanfu bloggers.
In 2023, Mini BAZAAR released a series of group photos featuring representatives from the China's 56 ethnic groups, including the presence of hanfu attire. This was the first time that hanfu imagery dressed in Ming-style hanfu appeared in such a form alongside other minority ethnic groups.
The increasing amount of heated discussions surrounding hanfu culture indicates that it has become popular in people's lives and is creating more perspectives with an inclusive and open-minded attitude. This is also the path for traditional cultural development to continue.