How The Other Half Lived
The Splendours of Royal Costume
Although it can prove hard at times to resist the allure of the fabulous Hong Kong shopping malls, fashion devotees have never had a better excuse to indulge in a little culture than with the opening of The Museum of History’s latest show devoted to The Splendours of Royal Costume. In a rare appearance from The Forbidden City’s Palace Museum Collection comes a gloriously decadent exhibition of the royal costume of China’s last – and arguably most fascinating – Qing dynasty.
Some 130 items and sets of textiles, including court, travel and military costumes have been laid out to illustrate the Qing court’s strict dress code of colours and embroidery patterns indicating rank - for example, only royals were allowed to wear yellow or blue with a dragon motif, the representation of an authority bestowed by heaven.
Other preserved wonders include the pot-bottomed flowered shoes which required Manchu ladies to teeter dangerously on around 6 inches of wooden or ceramic wedge with a straight posture and swinging arms; the minutely-detailed armour and helmet of Emperor Kangxi; the matrimonial dragon robes of Emperor and Empress Guangxu; and the surcoat of Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing dynasty. Forbidden fruit, no more!