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Wedding dress

Throughout the twentieth century, one of the most popular forms of wedding attire in China was the combination of a red silk jacket and panelled skirt – heavily embroidered with dragon and phoenix motifs. Red was favoured because of its association with good fortune.

Where was this textile created?

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Wedding dress
Asia: East Asia, China
c. 1960
Silk satin, sewn with beads and sequins
98 cm x 63 cm
Gift of Elaine Chan
T95.0164a-b Textile Museum of Canada

The extensive bead embroidery on this woman’s two-piece suit is reminiscent of the hand-sewn embellishment found in European couture. It echoes the symbolic designs of imperial dragon robes, with dragons, birds and phoenixes floating in the air above borders of stripes and flowers. The metal zipper on the jacket is a modern and somewhat discordant finishing touch.

This outfit may have been worn exclusively in Hong Kong. In the 1960s, the Cultural Revolution in mainland China prohibited the wearing of traditional, “decadent” symbols on clothing. Variety in wardrobe was halted and the Chinese adopted the Mao suit as the only style of dress.

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