The Eyes Have It

By Gan Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-12-26 09:26
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 The Eyes Have It

The "panda eyes" of the diva Faye Wong wow the Chinese mainland during her 1997 concert . The look was created by Zing, a prominent Hong Kong makeup artist.  The trend of panda eyes has become popular again. Pictured left and far left are recent works by makeup artist Dom Yang. Provided to China Daily

The Eyes Have It

Simple and symbolic, the 'panda look' is a recurring trend, Gan Tian discovers.

What did the cuter-than-cute pandas bring to the fashion industry? A pair of panda eyes, and black-and-white simplicity.

Composed of dark-colored eyeshades and long and thick eyelashes, "panda eyes" have had their ups and downs in the country's fashion history. Makeup artist Zhou Shuxiong says it originates from Native American tribes.

"The female hunters usually painted their faces and noses white, but put black around their eyes. It is to show they are also powerful, brave and strong," Zhou says.

The trend was brought into the Chinese mainland by the diva Faye Wong. After she gave birth to her first child in 1997, she returned to the music industry with a stunning "panda look".

It was created by Zing, a prominent Hong Kong makeup artist, who has also worked with actresses Carina Lau, Kelly Chen, Zhang Ziyi, Zhang Jingchu and Shu Qi.

Instead of using black, Zing used dark pink around Wong's eyes. Wong's fans were wowed when she appeared frequently with this "pink panda look" in public that year. With that, she was also crowned as "the avant-garde singer".

Eleven years later, the look was back.

When director Li Shaohong was adapting one of China's four great classical novels A Dream of Red Mansions into the TV series in 2008, she invited Hong Kong art director and designer Timmy Yip to design the costumes and makeup for the characters.

Yip won the Oscar for the Best Art Direction and Costume Design with his work in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in 2000. But he made a decision that drew critics' fire all over the country, putting pink eyeshades on Jia Yuanchun, one of the most important figures in the novel.

Netizens said the character is introverted, elegant and knowledgeable. How could she sport a pair of pink panda eyes?

He Lin, who plays the role, insisted this look was perfect for her.

"At the first glance, people will think it comes from elements of some Chinese operas, but when it goes along with the costumes and hair decors, it looks wonderful. This pink panda look is modern, which brings more stylish elements to our TV series," she said in an interview.

And this year, panda eyes have become popular again. Thick and colorful eyelashes were introduced in V*tamin Fashion Show, held by fashion labels at Beijing's trendy Sanlitun Village. Makeup artist Dom Yang published his latest works last month. To go with the exaggerated makeup, most of the models were wearing dark pink eyeshades.

Compared with panda eyes, black and white - or may we say panda colors - are luckier. They are always in vogue.

There were not so many colors at the Huafu Cup fashion design contest. The garments at the final show held on Wednesday were simple and elegant, yet stylish.

"I only use different whites and blacks, to illustrate the power of the garments. For me, they are two basic colors," says Pang Peng, the first-prize winner.

The colors are well expressed in Western fashions: from Audrey Hepburn's black silk dress to Elizabeth Taylor's wraparound white dress. But now more local Chinese fashion designers and makeup artists are trying to grasp the essentials of them - perhaps evoking those bears native to Central and Southwestern China.

Pang won the Huafu Cup with his collection The Power Within a Second, composed of a women's series of loose shirts, pants and skirts.

To demonstrate the different layers of the garments, she used hues of milky white, light gray, and black, which brought people back to Elizabethan era, when wives of barons, knights of the order, or councilors' ladies, gentlewomen, and the maids of honor were all wearing giant silver and gray dresses with layers.

Pang's garments, however, are sexier. She cut the dresses shorter - yet still with layers - to show the wearer's bear legs. Some deep V-collar shirts also highlight their collar bones.

"The colors are perfect for Asian women's skin - milky, smooth and white," says Eric Shya, Time Out Beijing's senior fashion editor.