Putting on the Chinese Hanfu costume, she is the king of the daughter kingdom in “Journey to the West (西游记)” and the sister of Baochai (宝钗) in “Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼梦)”, with the classical charm flowing between her eyebrows and smiles, as if the characters from the Four Great Masterpieces (also includes: Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三国演义) and Water Margin (水浒传)) came to her eyes. The young Hanfu girl named Wu Chen (吴晨), who became popular online for a set of Hanfu photos.
It is her interpretation of the beautiful women in the Four Great Masterpieces that has made many young people fall in love with Hanfu. In fact, she has a more special identity – the seventh generation inheritor of Changzhou Xiju (锡剧, also know as Wuxi Opera) Troupe. In Wu Chen’s opinion, meeting Xiju and Hanfu are both wonderful encounters in life, and she also hopes to drive more young people to understand the traditional culture and inherit Chinese beauty through her creation.
Accidentally Popular: Siyue
Wu Chen was born in 2001, grew up in Jiangyin, Wuxi, and is now studying Xiju at the Jiangsu Drama School. She has long black hair with big watery eyes, and is more quiet and frank when she is not wearing makeup.
In April 2018, Wu Chen became popular on the Internet for a video, and then changed her nickname to “Siyue (四月, April)“. Classical, spiritual, and temperamentally beautiful, this is what netizens say about Wu Chen.
After becoming popular, she started to get attention from photographers, “I had no contact with the modeling and photography industry before, so I didn’t quite dare to take the first step, and usually tired from classes and didn’t have much spare time.” Wu Chen politely declined all the offers, “but a photographer who specializes in Hanfu approached me many times and said she wanted to work with me, so I saw that she was sincere and we were all in Nanjing, so I tried it.”
After the first attempt, Wu Chen found that it was not as complicated as she thought, and began a long-term collaboration with the photographer. In addition to business shoots with Hanfu businesses, the two also try their hand at creative work.
“Last year, I participated in a Hanfu runway show and many people said I looked like Baochai from the 1987 version of the TV series ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’.” Wu Chen didn’t expect that she would get a lot of likes from netizens, many of whom called her “sister Baochai”.
So Wu Chen and the photographer started experimenting with other characters, imitating the king of the daughter kingdom and the Jade Rabbit Genie from the 1986 version of Journey to the West. They mixed and matched similar styles of costumes with Hanfu, and when the photos were sent out, the high degree of similarity made many netizens exclaim “stunning”.
People who have seen Wu Chen in daily life would not associate her with “Baochai”, but as soon as she puts on the Hanfu, she looks like a character of the book “Dream of the Red Chamber”. Wu Chen admits that in addition to the makeup and costumes, her own experience in theater helped a lot. ” Most of the TV actors in that era were also opera actors, so would have a similar feeling to them.”
The Growth of Hanfu Girl
Studying Xiju was an opportunity that Wu Chen tried to seize, in 2016, the Changzhou Xiju troupe was selecting the seventh generation of its successor nationwide, and Wu Chen’s music teacher recommended her to the teacher who came to Wuxi to recruit. “My family had taken me to see Xiju when I was a child, and although I didn’t understand much, they were so beautiful on stage that I longed for them.” Wu Chen realized that this was an opportunity to make his dream of being on stage come true, and she had to make the most of it.
“The whole audition process was smoother than expected, and although I had no dance or vocal foundation, the teachers felt that I had the model for studying opera.” Finally, Wu Chen was selected from more than 2,000 people and became one of the 16 people selected to come to Nanjing to study as expected.
Wu Chen’s life is now very full, between studying at the theater school, she will go to Hanfu shoots on weekends, or go to Hanfu events.
Wu Chen’s life is full of surprises after her relationship with Hanfu, “Meeting a lot of interesting people in the process is a life that she hadn’t experienced originally.” What impressed her most was a 70-year-old grandmother who loved Hanfu. “I had watched her share various tips about Hanfu on the internet before, and when I saw her standing in front of me at an offline event in Hanfu, looking so radiant, instantly made me feel that Chinese costume was even more beautiful.”
At the end of this year, Wu Chen will graduate from school and leave Nanjing to work for Changzhou Xiju Opera Troupe, but the creation of Hanfu will always continue. From an ordinary student to the netizen’s favorite Hanfu girl & blogger, Wu Chen also gradually realized the significance of what he was doing.
In her opinion, both her professional Xiju Opera and her amateur hobby Hanfu are cultural heritage worth guarding and passing on, and it is her good fortune to be associated with them. “Most of the netizens who like me are young people of the same age as me, and I also hope to use some of my influence to drive more young people to understand the traditional Hanfu culture and feel the beauty of Chinese culture.”
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