Fashion Dunhuang: a passionate performance from Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology

Dunhuang has experienced thousands of years of vicissitudes, and has gathered tens of thousands of people's prayers.

Today, the treasure house of Dunhuang culture opens slowly, and the glory of Dunhuang art is reproduced.

Introduction of activities

At 20:30 p.m. on September 26, the highlight of the 3rd International Cultural Exposition on the Silk Road (Dunhuang) was the performance of "The Perfect Night of Dunhuang" at the Dunhuang Grand Theatre. The event was sponsored by the Publicity Department of the Gansu Provincial Committee of Chinese Communist Party, the Gansu Provincial Department of Culture, and the Chinese Dancers’ Association. The Dunhuang Research Institute, the Beijing Institute of Fashion technology and Lieshe International co-sponsored the event.  Wang Xudong, dean of Dunhuang Institute of Research, Ma Shengjie, Mr Ma Shengjie, Secretary of the Party Committee of Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, and Wu Xiaoli, Dean of School of  Fashion Communication of Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, acted as chief planners.The event was sponsored exclusively by the Bank of Gansu and supported by Beijing Tian Zheng Zhong Guang Investment holding Group Co., Ltd.

National leaders, cultural scholars, artists and business elites from China and along the "Belt and Road" line came to the scene to watch the performance. After the performance, the audience responded enthusiastically, especially giving high appraisal to the costume design and production of the performance.

The origin

The performance of "The Perfect Night of Dunhuang" at the Dunhuang Grand Theatre was organized by Professor Liu Yuanfeng of BIFT, Director of Dunhuang Costume Culture Research and Innovative Design Center.The 20 sets of artistic reproducing costumes and 80 sets of innovative costumes were all studied, designed and produced by Dunhuang Costume Culture Research and Innovative Design Center. The costume performance and editing were undertaken by the students from School of Fashion Communication of BIFT.

Dunhuang Costume Culture Research and Innovative Design Center was jointly established by the BIFT, the Dunhuang Institute of Research, the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, and Dunhuang Culture Promotion Foundation. The representatives of the Quartet signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement in London on December 7, 2017. Ma Shengjie, Secretary of the Party Committee of Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology , attended the meeting and signed on behalf of BIFT. Vice Premier Liu Yandong and British Health Secretary Hunter witnessed the signing ceremony. On June 6, 2018, the Center was officially launched at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology.

The "center" aims to synthesize the advantages of the Quartet in the research, education, cultural heritage, innovative design, social communication, mass promotion, international cooperation and exchange of Dunhuang culture and art; collect resources from various sources and build an international platform; carry out in-depth research, innovative design, achievement promotion, talent training, academic exchanges and other activities in relation to Dunhuang costume culture and art so as to enable the reappearance of the charm of Dunhuang costume culture, promote the beauty of Dunhuang culture and art, rejuvenating the Dunhuang costume culture and letting it come into life, enter the modern era, and go to the world.

The design and production of the 100 sets of costumes displayed in "the most Beautiful Dunhuang Night" were studied, designed, and made by the core members of the "Center" team, including Chu Yan, Li Yingjun, Wu Bo, Zhang Chunjia, Cui Yan, Wang Yi, Xie Jing, and Zhao Bingqing. This team was led by Professor Liu Yuanfeng, Director of the Center, former President of BIFT, doctoral supervisor, and leader of the costume design team for the APEC leaders and their spouses in 2014. Mr. Shana, Honorary consultant of the "Center", famous Chinese expert of Dunhuang Art Research and Art Design Education, participated in the guidance. The event was the first report on the achievements of the "Center" in three and a half months since its official establishment.

The fashion show covering over a thousand years history includes two major units, the one is "Dunhuang costume art reproduction", and another is "Dunhuang costume art innovative design".

Reproduction of costume art in Dunhuang·devout

"Dunhuang costume art reproduction" was made successfully by the design team members ,under the direction of the BIFT Associate Professor, APEC creative designer Chu Yan and BIFT teacher Cui Yan. Dunhuang grotto art is "exquisite sculpture". This unit chooses the portraits of 20 secular supporters with typical features in the murals of the past dynasties of the Dunhuang Grottoes as reference, with the textual analysis of historical documents and the comparative study of clothing and textile relics. The art reproduces the artistic features and colors as well as unique charm of the costumes of the past dynasties in Dunhuang. It is especially worth mentioning that the jewelry and makeup of the characters in this unit are all completed by the team led by Yang Shuyun, the character makeup stylist who led the famous dance drama "Silk Road Flower Rain" and the 1987 edition of "A Dream of Red Mansions".

Most of the characters in Dunhuang costume reproduction show were non-professional models, including students Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, employees from Qinghai Oilfield, literary and artistic directors of Tibet TV, security and receptionists of the digital display center of Dunhuang Research Institute, artists from the Dunhuang Culture Promotion Foundation, and teachers from Dunhuang Middle School and so on. When the dressed up beauty providers were came, the audience seemed to have returned to the past, and almost forgot the time.

Dunhuang costume art innovation design: stunning Dunhuang

"Dunhuang costume art innovative design" unit were extracted from the Dunhuang murals and painted sculptures."Turquoise, earthy red, yellowish-brown, brownish-black" are four representative color systems corresponding to the four themes of "Nine Color Deer, flying Apsaras (as in the frescoes of the Dunhuang Caves), Silk Road, and Transformation" respectively.

The models participating in the performance of the unit are all students from the School of Fashion Communication, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, who major in fashion performance.

The "Green Nine-Colored Deer" series is designed by Zhang Chunjia, a young academic from Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Dunhuang Research Institute.

In Cave 257 of the Mogao Grottoes, the "Narrative story paintings of the Nine-colored Deer" should be the most well-known classic in the story painting of  Buddha.

This series is based on the unique, elegant and elegant green color of Dunhuang, with nine-colored deer as the theme of the pattern. From color, pattern to style design, and then to the deep cultural expression, all of which express the exploration and rebirth of Buddhism in Dunhuang at the beginning. They also show the quiet and introverted, elegant and unruly, as well as extraordinary and refined aesthetics of the Wei, Jin and Southern and Northern Dynasties.

" Earthy red, flying apsaras" is mainly designed by Associate Professor Chu Yan and Professor Liu Yuanfeng. The most unforgettable and fascinating scene in the Dunhuang murals is the scene of the Pure Land of Heaven with "green lotus blossoming on the wall and flying apsaras dancing in the sky". The unconstrained and varied dynamic beauty of the Tang Dynasty shows the political unity, economic prosperity, openness, self-confidence and calm atmosphere of the times.

This series of costume design takes Dunhuang’s unique rich red as the main color. Its color, pattern, craft and style fully reflect the warmth, vigorous and graceful bearing of the Tang Dynasty. The design alsoreflects the style of the age in which we seek balance in dissimilarity, colliding and communicating between different cultures in the context of openness and inclusiveness, and gradually integrating to strike a balance.

Costume collocation also has a unique style, free and changeable, flexible, deep understanding the air artistic spirit of the Dunhuang murals flying apsaras all over the wall.

The "Huang Huang yellowish-brown Silk Road" series is mainly designed by Professor Liu Yuanfeng and Associate Professor Chu Yan. As an important town on the Silk Road, Dunhuang is not only the carrier of the Eastern and Western cultures of the Silk Road, but also the witness of the ups and downs of the Silk Road. It not only witnessed the sunset of the long river, desert smoke, but also witnessed the growth and decline of the Central Plains dynasty, witnessed the exploration and innovation from the Sui Dynasty to the initial unification of the whole country, and then to the prosperous Tang Dynasty. In the late Tang Dynasty, Dunhuang art gradually developed into maturity, the balance between different cultures became more sophisticated, the combination of Buddhism and secular culture became more profound, the decorative meaning of the patterns became more obvious, and more realistic, vividly showing the fine texture of silk and the fine and solid brocade pattern. This series of costume design features rich color, thick texture, firm and straight outline, which embodies the spiritual and aesthetic connotation of self-confidence of the great powers represented by the Tang Dynasty, as well as the artistic expression of the decorative and aesthetic value of the times and beyond.

The series of "brownish-black metamorphosis" is mainly designed by Associate Professor Li Yingjun of the Academy of Fine Arts of Tsinghua University and Associate Professor Wu Bo of the Academy of Fine Arts of Tsinghua University.

The period from the Five Dynasties to the Song and Yuan dynasties was the last stage of the development of Dunhuang grottoes. During the reign of the Western Xia Dynasty, the designs of Dunhuang grottoes became more and more flattened, and the variety and combination of patterns became more and more abundant, which brought new breath to Dunhuang grottoes.

The unified Yuan Dynasty was the end of the development of the Dunhuang grotto art. The Tibetan-style Grottoes appeared. They fully displayed the characteristics of the Tantric religion in color, and the color contrast was strong and full of mystery.

The costume design of the series is mainly dark brown, supplemented by a small amount of gold, silver, and earth red, which turns the seemingly single black illusion into an infinite wealth of possibilities. The design is mysterious and profound. Materials, craftsmanship, modeling and overall design, abstract, geometric, and folding are full of stereoscopic and futuristic, which perfectly fit the theme of "metamorphosis"

The bright future

There is no doubt that costume is the best carrier for the external expression and internalization of the culture of the times. From the Northern Dynasty to the Song and Yuan dynasties, especially in the Tang Dynasty, Dunhuang accepted and merged the Eastern and Western cultures, and became the pearl of the Silk Road, the sea of clothes and crown, and the treasure house of culture.

Dunhuang, a great beauty, has been nourished for thousands of years. The decline of the ancient Silk Road after the Yuan Dynasty does not mean that the long historical corridor of communication between East and West has disappeared. Since our country put forward the initiative of "Belt and Road" in 2013, as once the pearl of the Silk Road, Dunhuang has changed from a small town in the northwest to the focus of the world's attention.

The study of Dunhuang grotto art and the exploration of Dunhuang cultural inheritance and innovative design in this performance not only show the historical development context and style, but also demonstrate the infinite possibility of cultural exchanges between China and the West and the development of Dunhuang culture and art. We should not only inherit its rich material and cultural heritage, but also inherit and carry forward its spirit of openness and inclusiveness, creating the contemporary costume culture and silk road culture, and enriching the contemporary value of Dunhuang grottoes art.  


Before the performance,Secretary of the Party Committee of Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology , Professor Liu Yuanfeng visited the designers, makeup stylists, models, design assistants, photographers and other staff members  participated in the performance in the backstage dressing room, and took pictures with everyone.

After the show, Mr. Chang Shana, famous Dunhuang art research expert, art design educator, honorary consultant of Dunhuang Costume Culture Research and Innovative Design Center, Ma Shengjie, Party Committee Secretary of Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, and Zhao Shengliang, Vice President of Dunhuang Research Institute, Dr. Wang Yin, Chairman of the Dunhuang Culture Promotion Foundation, and Professor Liu Yuanfeng, Director of the "Center" and its members, as well as the models participating in the performance and the fashion show directors from the School of Fashion Communication of BIFT took a group photo.

Mr. Chang Shana was very excited to see the performance. After the performance, she came to the stage and communicated with Mr. Ma Shengjie, Secretary of the Party Committee of Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, Professor Liu Yuanfeng, Director of Dunhuang Costume Culture Research and Innovative Design Center, Dr. Wang Yin, President of Dunhuang Culture Promotion Foundation, and members and models of the Center. "That's great, I'm so happy to see these models come out as if they were supporters coming out of a mural!"

Members of Dunhuang Costume Culture Research and Innovative Design Center took group photo with the team led by Yang Shuyun, who was engaged in costume design and makeup for the performance of the Dunhuang costume art reproduction unit, and models who participated in Dunhuang costume art reproduction performance.