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Designer highlights Miao culture at Fashion Week

By KONG WENZHONG | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-09-14 22:25

Fashion designer Zhang Han is showcasing a distinct culture through her apparel.

Zhang brought her designs inspired by the Miao ethnic group of China to the runways of New York Fashion Week on Sept 8.

“The signatures of my collection are the Miao embroideries. I have them on every one of my pieces, these Chinese-style patterns with the bright Chinese red,” said Zhang, who is from Guizhou province. “I was trying to promote the Miao culture from my hometown on the world stage.”

The Miao ethnic group is well known for its apparel and accessories. The most distinguishable features of Miao clothing, the colorful and delicate embroideries on its clothes portraying folktales, totems and local landmarks, were combined with contemporary designs by Zhang.

“A lot of the times museums are the only places where people could get to know about the Chinese ethnic groups like Miao,” Zhang said. “To have a thorough understanding and comprehensive experience of the distinct Miao culture, people even would visit the Miao villages, which is not so easy, especially for foreigners.

“That’s why I’m naming my collection ‘Metamorphosis,’” said Zhang, pointing out that her design was not limited by traditional Miao style, but was a combination of Chinese red, signature embroideries and the more widely recognized modern fashion style.

“I hope that through my collection, more people, especially people from other countries, would get to know the culture,” she said.

Zhang’s show featured a diverse and inclusive team of models. In addition to American models, Zhang insisted on having some Chinese models in the show, including a child model who opened the show in full Miao costume.

The mix of models, according to Zhang, showed how people from different backgrounds and diverse age groups can come together and appreciate traditional Chinese style, and facilitate communication and understanding across cultures.

“Such presentation on the global platforms also brought me broader business opportunities,” said Zhang.

“Her designs are beautiful. I was amazed by this traditional Chinese design, and I’m very happy for her to show her design in New York,” said Jessica Madden, a Canadian model who walked in the show. “I think she put all her heart and passion into this, and I hope one day I could walk for her again.”

“I’m very proud to walk for a fellow Chinese designer,” said Christina Jin, a model based in New York. “Her designs are not solely based on the Miao cultural apparel, but they are combining it with some contemporary Western fashion elements. In this way, it’s easier for them to be widely accepted on the international stage, while the core of them are still Chinese cultural styles.

“It’s an interesting case of cultural exchange and integration,” added Jin.

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