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Inspired by an ancient muse

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-12 08:48
Outfits and accessories designed by Xiong Ying feature iconic elements from the ancient murals and statues of Dunhuang. The collection was presented in Paris in September 2018.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The Mogao Caves-part of the ancient Silk Road-provide endless inspiration for designer Xiong Ying, helping her to take her fashion house, Heaven Gaia, to new levels on the international stage, Chen Nan reports.

Icons from the relics in Dunhuang-one of China's biggest treasure troves of art, dating back a millennium-were taking on a new, chic look on the runway as Chinese fashion designer Xiong Ying presented her spring/summer collection for 2019 at the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild in Paris on Sept 28, 2018.

Elements from Dunhuang's murals, including nine-colored deer, flying apsaras (angel-like beings known as feitian in Chinese) and ancient musicians playing the pipa, or Chinese lutes, all came alive through Xiong's contemporary-design aesthetics in 78 sets of outfits and accessories.

Xiong's collection was delicate, light and breezy. It featured such techniques as dip-dyeing, Suzhou embroidery, tapestry work and hand painting on textiles, such as silk and chiffon.

"It is a different approach, and I drew my inspiration from my trip to Dunhuang," the Beijing-based designer says. "There are personal involvement and memories, and there are all these other layers intermingled, which make the idea of luxury even more interesting. The collection is not just about expensive materials and complicated techniques but also history and personal experience."

Xiong launched her own fashion label, Heaven Gaia, in 2013 to present traditional Chinese culture to the world through fashion design. Traveling to Dunhuang had been a dream of hers ever since, Xiong says.

"I wanted to go on a journey and get out of my comfort zone. Although I had read many stories about Dunhuang and had seen lots of photos and videos about this mysterious place, I set aside all the preconceptions I had about Dunhuang before I set off," recalls Xiong.

"I wanted to gain inspiration from what was happening at the moment, so I decided to embark on a road trip to take beautiful photographs. It's important for me, as a designer, to dedicate time to creativity."

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