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There has been considerable debate about what Mo Yan, the newly-selected Nobel laureate in literature, will be wearing when he accepts his prize.Mei Jia talks exclusively to his designer.
Designer Chen Bei works on the wardrobe for Mo and his family at the Nobel literature award presentation. [Photo Provided to China Daily]
There's a saying that you should never judge a book by its cover, or a person by their outfit.
Yet, long before Chinese writer Mo Yan (real name Guan Moye) embarked on his journey to Stockholm Concert Hall, where on Monday he will accept the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, what he planned to wear was a national topic of discussion.
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Casual or formal? Traditional or Western? A Mao suit or tailcoat?
It's fair to say that what Mo is about to wear has never been so scrutinized, as the country's masses wonder how a literature laureate will present himself on the world stage in Sweden.
On the massively popular micro-blogging forum Sina Weibo, fans have even Photoshopped various outfits onto Mo's image to determine his best look.
Designer Chen Bei, who created a wardrobe set for Mo and his family specifically for the Nobel award presentation, says the designs of the outfits speak for themselves.
"Clothes are actually a language. My designs are intended to speak for Mo," Chen tells China Daily in an exclusive interview.
In 1968, Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata received his Nobel prize in a kimono. Will Mo also wear traditional Chinese garments?
Chen answers that the design is essentially a Western cut with Chinese characteristics.
"His appearance will tell the audience in Stockholm that Mo is a writer from China and also part of the international community," she says.
For example, one of the outfits Chen designed is a black woolen suit to go with a gray cotton shirt decorated with seals that are engraved with Mo Yan's name, in Chinese calligraphy.