Antithesis versus Inspiration: Chinese Clothing in the Eyes of Western Theorists and Fashion Designers
Dress is a part of Chinese cultural heritage that has fascinated Western audiences for centuries. On the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of China, there are items related to textiles, embroideries and certain examples of Chinese clothing. This article analyses issues connected with the different uses of Chinese dress in the West. To fashion theorists such as Bell, Wilson, Sapir and Veblen, Chinese dress was the opposite of modern Western clothing and did not deserve to be called fashion. However, researchers such as Welters, Lillethun and Craik have opposed viewing fashion theory through a Eurocentric prism in their desire to rewrite fashion history. Fashion designers drew ideas from China, treating it as a source of inspiration to create their own original designs. For some of them, such as Yves Saint Laurent, it was a China of their imagination. In certain cases, they made use of porcelain designs or dragon motifs in their own collections, for instance, in designs by Cavalli and Ford. The incorporation of Chinese garments into Western collections has also become visible.