Two San Francisco fashion designers—Colleen Quen and Jude Gabbard—seek new inspiration by visiting China for the first time. They skip cosmopolitan Shanghai, and head straight to one of China’s most remote and poorest areas, Guizhou Province. While economically poor, this region is rich in diversity, culture—and, of course—fashion.
Guizhou is home to many of the country’s 55 ethnic minority groups, each with a distinct traditional style of dress. While signs of modernization are clearly visible in Guizhou’s ancient communities, entering them is still like stepping back in time. The clothes they wear today are the same as their ancestors wore centuries ago. Colleen and Jude traipse through rice terraces and steep hillsides to visit the ancient villages of the Miao (Hmong) and Buyi people.
They learn traditions that have been passed down for generations, and the villagers help them decode some reoccurring motifs on their clothing. Colleen and Jude take a hands-on approach to learning about wax-dye batiks, embroidery, silver jewelry, unusual hairstyles and adornments— and they explore the layers of meaning behind these unique designs and accessories.
Watch their journey and see what they discover in the documentary, Interpreting Ancient Chinese Fashion, airing on TUTV this Wednesday, August 1st at 1 and 9 p.m.