Many contemporary fashion designs incorporate such timeless Chinese elements as dragons, calligraphy, and Buddhas. But what can this rich and ancient culture offer in addition to those exotic elements? Can traditional oriental culture bring a new spirit to modern fashion?
China is comprised of many different ethnicities, but Han culture has been the most prevalent since ancient times. Han Couture consists of the clothing worn by ethnic Hans, as well as those whom they inspired, from thousands of years ago up until the end of the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century. The defining characteristics of Han Couture are its unique collars and lapels; wide, flowing sleeves; and the use of a sash in place of buttons. The look is refined, reserved, and noble, rendered in the finest fabrics, often with exquisite embroidered details and other embellishments.
Clothing and accessories of Han Couture are inseparable from the semi-divine culture of China. The Buddhist and Daoist belief in maintaining harmony between Heaven and mankind was reflected in every aspect of society including clothing and style. Han Couture reached its peak in the Tang, Song and Ming Dynasties, with Chinese culture absorbing aspects from other regions and with different countries being highly influenced by Chinese culture. For example, today’s Japanese kimono and Korean hanbok still retain features of Tang Dynasty dress.