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Embroidering a fashionable career

Updated: 2024-05-10 07:41 ( China Daily )
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Her work is on display at an ongoing exhibition, Poetic Charm of Splendid Attire, at the National Art Museum of China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"My needle and thread no longer work together to copy a thing seen in reality, but rather to express structural beauty, a sense of space and of a spiritual haven," she says.

One of the new areas she has been exploring is interpreting the tranquillity, extensiveness and room for imagination found in the pondering of Chinese poetry and landscape paintings.

"It's like I'm using stitches to achieve the same sense of liubai ("leaving blank spaces") in Chinese painting, and to provoke thoughts of culture and of the luminous figures in history who contributed to it."

Lan Yu also blends other forms of handicraft into her work, including the duijin ("accumulated patterns") style of Shanxi province in which decorative motifs are made separately from silk, paper and cotton, and then assembled to create a relief painting.

She also used the craft to make the dozens of Yulan magnolia flowers applied to one of the dresses on display, which she calls Mantingfang ("a courtyard full of fragrance") after a tune pattern from classical ci poetry.

Wu Weishan, director of the National Art Museum of China and a sculptor in his own right, says that every look on show "can also be appreciated as a sculpture, formed of smooth lines, graceful colors and fine structures".

"They stand as vivid, thought-provoking examples of how the spirit of Chinese tradition may live on in the modern world," he says.

Lan Yu says she plans to take her work on tour internationally to places with booming fashion scenes, such as Singapore, New York, Toronto and Tokyo.

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