Exploring Chinoiserie: diaspora fashion, dress, costume & cinema at FCVC2019
I presented my in-progress PhD research at Fashion, Costume & Visual Cultures conference in Lille-Roubaix, France, in early July. It's always difficult to summarise one's PhD topic, and even harder to condense it into a 20-minute conference presentation! I'm researching Chinoiserie fashions and Chinese diaspora dress in the UK. I was on the panel 'East Asian Clothing Cultures' alongside two researchers in media studies from Beijing Normal University. This made it quite interesting, as Lin Guangyun was researching the popularity of contemporary Chinese period dramas in Vietnam, distributed on TV and online. Zhou Yan is researching the history of cinematic costume for female actors in China during the 20th century.
Whilst our papers all considered representations of Chineseness in popular culture, our topics are in fact vastly different, between diaspora & everyday dress (me), cinema history in China, and intra-Asian media broadcasting. Links were thus not easily made between our papers, despite the unifying topic concerning representations of East Asia (specifically, China). My favourite part of the day was watching a clip of a 1930s film displaying lots of qipao, shown by Zhou Yan.
The panel finished with an energetic and good-humoured panel discussion. It became evident how little historical Chinese cinema is known in Europe. We also discussed the comparably limited research into menswear, contemporary Chinese diaspora sentiments towards China and Hong Kong in the UK, and of course, views on the 2018 movie Crazy Rich Asians! (For more on that, see my contribution to the EATC podcast.)