Renewing an old tradition
BY wangxingwei from 21st Century
Published 2019-05-22
Designer Zhang Yan wants to bring traditional embroidery back into high fashion. CGTN

For ages, embroidery has been known as a woman’s job. However, like any good fashion designer, Zhang Yan dares to be different.

In the last three months, the 25-year-old’s work has hit New York and changed stereotypes about men and needlework.

His show in New York was called Fusheng, which means “a floating life”. It featured thin silk and intricate Suzhou embroidery. Zhang explained his method and technique to CGTN. He used a firm, transparent silk to symbolize the two characteristics of flexibility and steadiness. These refer to the two periods of our lives – when we are young and when we grow up.
他在纽约的大秀名为“浮生”,意思是“漂泊的人生”。现场展出了轻盈的绸缎以及精美的苏绣。张彦向中国国际电视台讲解了自己的工艺方法。他用坚韧通透的丝绸来代表灵活与坚定这两种品质。这也指代了人生的两个阶段 —— 少年时与长大后。

At the curtain call of the show, about 100 children came up to the catwalk amid Chinese classical music. They wore clothes with traditional Chinese patterns, like goldfish, pine needles and dragons, symbolizing good luck and strength. Zhang said he wants adults to find their childhood courage through his clothes.

Zhang’s path to success was not easy. It’s a journey full of sweat and tears. After being inspired by museum pieces, Zhang spent about four years learning to embroider on cheongsam, or qipao – a traditional slit dress. Once a part of everyday fashion, Zhang wants to bring embroidery to the world of high design, giving full play to its classical beauty.

Though handling the tiny needle with his big hands wasn’t easy at first, after three to five years of practice, Zhang said he has greatly improved his work, in terms of both texture and detail. He says he tries “to be enthusiastic, stay interested and keep moving on.”

(Translator & Editor: Wang Xingwei AND Luo Sitian)
Embroidery  刺绣
Stereotypes  刻板印象
Featured  有…...特色
Intricate  精细的
Transparent  透明的
Flexibility  灵活性
Slit dress  高开叉裙子
Texture  材质