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Yi embroidery art a sensation in Milan Fashion Week

By CHEN WEIHUA in Milan, Italy | | Updated: 2023-09-24 19:21
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Designer Ji Cheng (first right), Li Wenjuan (second from right), head of the publicity department of Chuxiong Prefecture Party Committee and fashion models attend a fashion show highlighting Yi embroidery art at the Milan Fashion Week on Saturday. [Photo provided to]

Ding Lanying, an embroiderer from Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan province, was overexcited when the Milan Fashion Week held a show on Saturday of 2024 spring/summer collection featuring Yi embroidery art and culture.

A collection of some 40 trendy designs was presented by catwalk models, creatively applying the black color adorned by the Yi ethnic group and their favorite patterns of clouds, seeds and silver ornaments.

Ding, who has been doing embroidery for more than 30 years starting at the age of 8, said she felt fortunate to attend the show, and there are so many women like her back in her hometown who have contributed to the success.

"The show in Milan will make the village women embroiderers so proud of the Yi embroidery and encourage them to better carry on the culture heritage generation by generation," said Ding, who wore a traditional Yi costume.

Ding's South China Colorful Yi Embroidery Company now hires 2,028 embroiderers, including 109 who are physically challenged.

"It's an amazing collection. I like it very much. Amazing," Fabio Mascheroni, from the fashion company Ludovica Mascheroni, told China Daily after watching the show.

Fashion models catwalk during a fashion show highlighting Yi embroidery art at the Milan Fashion Week on Saturday. [Photo provided to]

Li Wenjuan, head of the publicity department of the Chuxiong Prefecture Party Committee, said that the show carries the greeting from the 2 million plus people in Chuxiong as well as the blessing and wishes of some 60,000 women embroiderers there.

"We live in the deep mountains, but we always have the fashion genes," she said of the 1,700-year-old Yi embroidery, an intangible cultural heritage. Chuxiong is about 120 kilometers west of Kunming, the provincial capital of Southwest China's Yunnan province.

"Italian explorer Marco Polo brought Chinese embroidery to the West more than 700 years ago and now we are at the Milan Fashion Week after our debut at the New York Fashion Week, it is truly a miracle of fingertips," she said of the Yi embroidery art.

Li expressed that the thriving local embroidery industry has enabled women to work at home and helped improve their livelihood.

Fashion models catwalk during a fashion show highlighting Yi embroidery art at the Milan Fashion Week on Saturday. [Photo provided to]

Yi is the sixth largest ethnic minority group in China and it boasts a population of over 98 million, mainly in Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Zhu Weiming, managing director of Shangtex Fashion Company, which coordinated the show, attributed the success to the joint efforts of designer Ji Cheng from Shanghai and the many embroider artists from Chuxiong. He said that Shangtex is dedicated to linking designers and intangible cultural heritage and promoting the traditional culture in the fashion industry and marketplace to empower the local economy.

"The 2024 spring/summer fashion inspired by Yi embroidery has very well blended Yi ethnic group's totems such as tiger, seeds and flowers and luxury Italian fabrics," he said.

"(It) is a salute to Yi culture,"

Besides the Milan Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week, the Yi embroidery had already fascinated the audience at the Shanghai Fashion Week and Beijing Fashion Week in China.

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