China Fashion Week: Grace Chen closes the show with couture collection inspired by traditional Chinese music
By Shen Li

This year's China Fashion Autumn/Winter edition has lowered its curtain. It's seen an array of both online and offline activities, including runway shows, fashion forums, online selling sessions and incubation plans for young talents. Closing the weeklong extravaganza was Chinese designer Grace Chen. 

Inspired by the qin, a seven-string instrument and one of the four arts in ancient China, the designer hopes to imprint Chinese fashion identity on our daily lives, turning traditional Chinese music into visible couture.

The qin collection is part of Chen's grand idea of turning the four arts in China into couture designs. They are the qin, the strategy game of Chinese chess or qi, shu, the art of Chinese calligraphy and hua, traditional Chinese painting. 

Accompanied by a live ensemble, models gracefully walked down the runway, showing garments adorned with fringes, intricate embroidery and knitting techniques. 

Grace Chen's latest collection inspired by traditional Chinese music, March 31, 2021. /CFP

Grace Chen's latest collection inspired by traditional Chinese music, March 31, 2021. /CFP

"Traditional Chinese music is known as silk and bamboo, which refers to strings and wind because all traditional Chinese chamber music ensembles are made up of these two kinds of instruments. Couture-wise, I see string instruments as stripes and wind instruments as dots; that's how I've been able to show traditional Chinese music visually in my designs," Chen told CGTN.

The color palette was also in harmony with the music played during the show. 

In the first half, musicians delighted the audience with the classic piece "High Mountains and Flowing Rivers" as the models strutted down the runway in flowing gowns mostly in black and white, like a tranquil and ethereal traditional Chinese ink painting. 

Grace Chen's latest collection, March 31, 2021. /CFP

Grace Chen's latest collection, March 31, 2021. /CFP

For the second half, musicians performed a work capturing scenes of daily life in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and the accompanying colors were visibly more vibrant, with light pink and blue pop on the runway. 

The designer said when she designs a piece, she always has in mind how it can match with the customer's other clothing. 

"For instance, the embroidered cape is not just reserved for special occasions; you can pair them up with jeans. Incorporating traditional culture in our daily life is the best way to preserve it, " she said.

She plans to center her next collection around qi or Chinese chess. Chen said she was looking forward to the challenge of showing the tension and wisdom of the ancient game and the contrast between yin and yang.

(Cover: A model shows Grace Chen's latest collection inspired by traditional Chinese music, March 31, 2021. /CFP)

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