Chinese ethnic fashion aesthetics shine in Milan, the fashion capital of the world The China International Ethnic Costume Design Competition becomes a bridge for cultural exchange

On September 17, 2023, Milan, Italy hosted the 3rd China International Chinese Clothing Design Competition under the theme “National beauty graces the heavens, coloring the world together.” Alongside this event, there were the Ming and Qing Dynasty Costume Exhibition, the Modern Ethnic Costume Exhibition featuring Lu Brocade, and the Nishan World Civilization Forum, which explored the beauty of Eastern and Western attire. This remarkable convergence of Western fashion and Eastern aesthetics in the early autumn of Milan was a captivating experience. The Chinese Ming, Qing, and Lu Brocade Modern Ethnic Costume Exhibition took center stage at the Italian Museum of Industrial Design. 

Kostroma Silk as the warp, etiquette weaves the weft Chinese ethnic fashion aesthetics shine in the fashion capital of the world.

“Ethnic Costume” refers to ceremonial clothing that embodies the historical and cultural DNA of the Chinese nation while incorporating contemporary aesthetics. Rooted in China’s rich traditional culture, these garments showcase the unique qualities of the Chinese people and reflect the positive spirit of contemporary society. They are not only distinct but also suitable for international interactions, cultural exchanges, trade, daily celebrations, rituals, and ceremonial occasions. Silk, a material of paramount importance in ethnic costumes, has a history of 7,000 years in China. Shandong, renowned as one of the significant origins of silk and the birthplace of “brocade,” boasts the finest fabric in Chinese culture. The phrase “a brocaded life” encapsulates the Chinese aspiration for a beautiful life. Embedded within ethnic costumes is the Chinese philosophical notion of “harmony between man and nature.” 

The Chinese way of dressing evolves with time, aligning with the seasons, environment, and other natural rhythms. The colors associated with each season – green for spring, red for summer, white for autumn, and black for winter, with yellow marking the end of each season – correspond to the human body’s organs as well as the cardinal directions. In Chinese life, attire, much like food, is chosen based on the season. Even table decorations are tailored to the different seasons. This exhibition presents a comprehensive depiction of the Chinese lifestyle in terms of clothing, food, shelter, and travel, epitomizing Chinese aesthetics. “The beauty of attire enriches; the greatness of rituals is termed summer.” The splendor of ethnic costumes lies not only in their lavishness and intricacy but also in the etiquette and spirit they convey. Each color and pattern in ethnic attire encapsulates people’s blessings and aspirations for a wonderful life, their contributions and hopes for a world shared in beauty, and their reverence and commitment to protecting the natural environment. 

The 3rd China International Chinese Clothing Design Competition, with its theme of “National beauty graces the heavens, coloring the world together,” showcased the 5,000-year wisdom of Chinese costume design and eco-friendly colors like plant dyes, serving designers worldwide. It promotes the harmonious coexistence of traditional Chinese colors and formal wear styles with global fashion trends. This competition has already achieved success in its previous editions, attracting nearly ten thousand potential participants and becoming a golden seedbed for the global fashion design community. 

The current edition was guided by the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, and jointly directed by the Shandong Provincial Department of Industry and Information Technology, Shandong Provincial Department of Education, Nishan World Confucianism Center, and Shandong People’s Foreign Friendship Association. It is co-hosted by the China Fashion Association, Shandong Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, Shandong Radio and TV Station, and Shandong Fashion Association. The Italian Institute of Chinese Culture and Fashion, Italy-China Council Foundation, Milan ADI Design Museum, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, and Yantai Tayho Advanced Materials Group Co., Ltd. are collaborating to support this competition. The award ceremony of The 3rd China International Chinese Clothing Design Competition in Milan will showcase China’s amiable and harmonious lifestyle to the world, allowing Eastern aesthetics and Western fashion to collide and create a magnificent symphony of ethnic costumes.