In Western tradition, a bride usually chooses white for her wedding gown. But things were once very different in China. Brides in ancient times often fancied much darker colors in which to tie the knot. For instance, there was a time when Chinese brides would wear black or red wedding dresses, depending on the dynasty.
To find out why, and uncover many other anecdotes related to fashion in Chinese history, many viewers are tuning-in to Chic China, a 10-episode TV show that started on CCTV-3 in November. It has brought ancient fashion to life through a combined stage show and voiceover, with each episode concluding with comments by Fan Di'an, director of the Central Academy of Fine Arts.
Spanning thousands of years, the show revisits the history of Chinese clothing, from ceremonial attire to the cheongsam and Dacron-made clothes that prevailed between the 1970s and 80s.
Producer and host Li Sisi alongside her crew traveled to conduct research in Suzhou and Nanjing in Jiangsu province, along with Hangzhou in Zhejiang province — all areas known for their silk or brocade production throughout the centuries.
Inspired by the journey, Li said the production team realized stage shows could showcase traditional attire in dramatic and innovative ways.
In one episode, an actress-playing a young princess puts on layers of wedding dresses with the outermost gown in black, before she embarks on her marriage to the ruler of another country on behalf of her own nation during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).
"Through the development and evolution of Chinese fashion design, we can see how it has contributed to the world," Li said.