Chinese culture meets fashion at Leeds College of Art

08 April 2015

An innovative collaboration between the BA (Hons) Fashion degree at Leeds College of Art and the Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds (BCIUL) is underway.

The project is bringing Chinese language and culture into the fashion programme, providing an international experience for our students within a country with a rapidly growing creative sector. The culmination of the project will result in two students winning a trip to China!

Fashion students at the College are creating designs inspired by Chinese culture and clothing. The project is supported by Michelle Wang from the BCIUL, (who is a past student of the College herself) and students are working under the guidance of their fashion tutors. The students will learn some Mandarin Chinese and work to put their own twist on the traditional Chinese formal dress, the Qipao or Cheongsam.  

This project helps develop the skills needed in a changing world, particularly the fashion industry. Many students will have some link with China in their future careers, whether in dealing with suppliers, designing or selling their clothes in this huge emerging market.

In Chinese language classes, students have learnt general expressions, such as how to introduce themselves, including their name and nationality. They have also learnt how to order food at a restaurant in China, go shopping and bargain the price, how to order a taxi and tell people their location.  More relevant to fashion they’ve learnt colours and clothes. 

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Students have experienced the art and culture of Chinese calligraphy and ink painting, where they learnt basic calligraphy strokes for the creation of Chinese writing as an art form. They will create a painting in the style of Chinese ink painting.the cultural significance of this ancient form of writing. Subsequently, they have learnt the basic techniques brush strokes and some simple Chinese characters. 

In February students enjoyed a visit to the ULITA (an Archive of International Textiles) which holds a worldwide collection of textiles, including Chinese Qing dynasty embroideries.  

The students' final designs will be evaluated by a judging panel in May, and two winners selected will join the Confucius Institute Summer School trip to China. Not only will they obtain a wealth of inspiration from the trip, but will also have the opportunity to meet people involved in the Chinese fashion industry. 

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