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Yi embroidery wows at Italy's Milan Fashion Week

By CHEN WEIHUA | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-09-26 09:41
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Ding Lanying, an embroiderer from Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province, could not hold back her excitement when a show featuring Yi embroidery and culture was held at the Milan Fashion Week on Saturday.

A collection of 40 trendy designs was modeled on the catwalk, where the color black and the Yi ethnic group's favorite patterns of clouds, seeds and silver ornaments were prominently featured.

Ding, who has been doing embroidery for more than 30 years since she was 8, said she was fortunate to attend the show, and there are so many women like her back in her hometown who have contributed to the show's success.

"The show in Milan will make the village's female embroiderers so proud of the Yi embroidery and encourage them to continue the cultural heritage for generations," said Ding, who was wearing a traditional Yi costume.

Ding's South China Colorful Yi Embroidery Company now hires 2,028 embroiderers, including 109 who have physical disabilities.

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

Li Wenjuan, head of the Chuxiong prefecture party committee's publicity department, said the thriving local embroidery industry has enabled women to work at home and helped improve their livelihoods.

"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.

Historical roots

"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."

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

Zhu Weiming, managing director of Shangtex Fashion Company which coordinated the show, attributed the success to the joint efforts of Shanghai designer Ji Cheng and the embroidery artists from Chuxiong.

"The 2024 spring/summer fashion inspired by Yi embroidery has blended the Yi ethnic group's totems, such as tiger, seeds and flowers, very well with luxurious Italian fabrics," he said. "(It) is a salute to Yi culture."

Apart from Milan Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week, the Yi embroidery had already wowed attendees at the Shanghai Fashion Week and Beijing Fashion Week in China.

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