Design guru decodes Qing fashions

Renowned Hong Kong fashion designer Lulu Cheung took on a fresh challenge when she agreed to be a Museum of History tour guide as part of a workshop on its exhibition featuring Qing dynasty costumes. The exhibition runs until October, and features more than 130 costumes, one-third of which have never been displayed before. The creative workshop targeted people aged 16 to 25 who have an interest in Chinese culture, or who plan to join the ‘rag trade’.
Before she took on her one-day role, Cheung visited the exhibition and spent hours studying each exhibit, to note the details such as the lining, sewing methods and handiwork of these garments that date back 300 years.
“This exhibition is a combination of history and culture, art and fashion design,” she said.
University student Jonathan Chan is a self-proclaimed Chinese culture buff, who says he lacks fashion sense. After joining the workshop, he felt inspired by Cheung’s introductions to the historic fashions.
“She taught me how to appreciate the clothes. She helped us to pay attention to details such as the silk lining and embroidery. Aesthetic standards from different time periods vary, she told us, but some standards remain unchanged, such as symmetry and the balance of patterns,” he said.
Trend setters
Sisters June and Jane Lai joined the workshop as they share an interest in the arts. Joining Cheung’s guided tour of the exhibition helped them understand trends in dressing habits in different periods of the Qing Dynasty.
“We learned that in the early Qing Dynasty period, the cut of the designs were loose. But in the late Qing, under the influence of Western culture, the cut of women’s garments grew slimmer,” Jane said.
Student Cheryl Chan will study fashion design in the UK this year, and said the workshop and guided tour were eye-opening.
Detail oriented
“I had seen similar costumes in TV dramas, but Miss Cheung showed us the real ones in great detail, and they are much more gorgeous,” Cheryl said.
Form 4 student Serena Yue plans to be a garment merchandiser, and she appreciated the fashion designer’s interpretation of the Qing fashions’ style elements.
“Miss Cheung’s introduction was comprehensive,” she said, adding that she learned that many design elements from the Qing Dynasty can still be applied in modern fashion design, and that she can find inspiration in the venerable regal costumes.
A dedicated follower of fashion, Cheung noted that many fashion designers, including herself, visit museums’ antique clothing exhibits seeking inspiration for fresh designs.
“Fashions have trends. I collect all the interesting ideas in my mind after each exhibition. When one particular style or pattern becomes a new fashion trend, I’ll recall all the ideas and inspirations,” she said.


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