LONDON — The Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony on Friday featured works from some of the most promising Chinese fashion design talents.
London College of Fashion graduate Chen Peng, who won the Yu Prize last year, designed several costumes for the performances directed by acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou.
The initial look was for the first act, “Spring Awakening.” Inspired by China’s 24 solar terms, as the spring awakening day lands on the same day as the opening ceremonies, the outfit was worn by 450 pole lifters who waved the poles, mimicking the effect of “spring buds breaking out of the ground, grass growing and flowers blooming,” the designer said on WeChat.
He added that the costume was based on a simple work jumpsuit, but the design of the shoulder pad contour was boosted to highlight the sense of the strength of the look. The green gradient with white color is to express “the strong vitality of spring buds breaking out of the ground.”
The second one he designed was a hockey costume for the performance “Display of Five Rings,” combining hockey performance with multimedia art. Chen said he was inspired by Chinese ice lantern and ice sculpture culture.
Chen’s third design for the performance “Imagination” was inspired by speed skaters’ outfits. He used the color red and the imagery of the Chinese knot, the most widely known symbol of beauty in Chinese culture, for the design. He also designed the outfits worn by flag bearers as athletes entered the stadium.
The designer said he got in contact with the Winter Olympics planning committee one day after Shanghai Fashion Week last April, and he became the first one to be picked by Zhang after an interview a month later in Beijing.
“I received a notice that Zhang Yimou’s team was selecting costume designers for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, and the belief that flashed through my mind at that time was that I must participate. I hope I can do my part for the Olympic Games,” he added.
Chinese fashion designer Feng Chen Wang, who is known for her deconstructed take on men’s wear, designed the outfit for the Chinese flag bearers, who are Chinese Olympic medalists from different eras, for the Olympic flag-raising during the opening ceremony.
They are China’s first winter sports world champion Luo Zhihuan; 1998 Winter Olympics silver medalist Li Jiajun; 2010 Winter Olympics figure skating pairs champion Shen Xue; 2006 Winter Olympics freestyle skiing aerials champion Han Xiaopeng; 2010 Winter Olympics short track speed skating champion Zhang Hui, and 2014 Winter Olympics speed skating champion Zhang Hong.
The outfit comprises a down puffer jacket utilizing theart form of line drawing with a Chinese landscape of mountains and rivers in sky blue and glacial white, alongside Beijing’s famous buildings and Olympic landmarks. The tailoring was inspired by traditional Chinese suiting, but features Western-style oversize fits and cut.
“As an independent designer, it’s truly an honor to work with these athletes during the opening ceremony. The Olympics has a very powerful message of inclusivity and diversity that brings hope, and I’m proud to be part of this global celebration,” Feng told WWD over the phone shortly after the looks were revealed at the Beijing National Stadium, where the opening ceremony was held.