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Image by Rosie Fraser

The Story of Yanxi Palace, its heritage textiles & how its influenced the catwalks this season.

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

This summer we have seen a new and exciting wave of ancient Chinese styles emerging onto the catwalks and igniting heritage luxury within China itself. A 70 Episode TV show sensation called 'Story of Yanxi Palace' saw over 530 million people all tuning in on a single day!

Set in the 18th Century Qing Dynasty, the show follows a storyline of how Wei Yingluo a loyal lady-in-waiting climbs 'the imperial ladder' to eventually become the emperors favourite concubine and the mother of the future emperor.

The beautiful authentic portrayal of the ancient Chinese style and the textile recreations have many obsessing over the intricate details from the ornate fabrics, high-level crafted accessories through to the heritage hairstyles. The production team went about recreating historical details as accurately as they could, so much so that they recreated the emperors robe using 18 kinds of embroidery techniques. To do this they sort out cultural relic repairers normally employed by the forbidden city to help recreate each piece with complete authenticity. Inspirations were taken from historical documents and books, the palace museum, private collections through to ancient manuscripts allowing each piece of textile and set design to be recreated using high-level craftsmanship. The velvet floral headwear adornments featured on the main characters were historically designed based on the preferences of each concubine. Zhao Shuxian, one of the few craftsmen still making velvet flowers, created all the headwear in the show using the art of making velvet flower (ronghua). Born and raised in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu province, Zhao started his career over 40 years ago, when he was 19. This traditional technique dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and refers to the creation of not only floral displays, but also animal shapes made by silk on a twisted wire frame

Within the show itself the main character comes across sewing threads made from peacock feathers mixed with gold and silver threads to then make a empress dress.

The show documents the incredible Chinese textiles seen in the Qing Dynasty in all its glory.

The show defines a new high-level of 'Chinese Luxury' with the leading fashion bloggers in China not being able to get enough of the new show. The show has not only fuelled the local fashion industry, but also has created commercial opportunities in the overseas markets with huge attraction to the series across Europe, north America and other Asian countries and it does not stop there. Yanxi Palace's heritage-defined China style has also had a impact on the words international fashion stage this summer with details popping up on catwalks and main features within the worlds leading fashion editorials.


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