French fashion history unfolds in Hong Kong-Xinhua

This photo taken on June 25, 2024 shows Louis Ng, museum director of the Hong Kong Palace Museum, in front of a piece of historically valuable French fashion. (Xinhua/Wang Shen)

HONG KONG, July 8 (Xinhua) — In a dimly lit exhibition hall at the Hong Kong Palace Museum, under spotlights, exquisitely designed vintage costumes and accessories and clips from classic old movies played quietly. On screen, people feel as if they have stepped into a time tunnel.

From the late 18th century to the early 20th century, nearly 400 French costumes, jewelry and accessories are on display, like a century-old fashion scroll that tells the story of fashion and dress.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France. The Hong Kong Palace Museum and Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs jointly organized a special exhibition, „The Decorated Body: French Fashion and Jewelery 1770-1910 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris”, which chronicles the evolution of French fashion trends.

According to Ingrid Yeung, Associate Curator of the Hong Kong Palace Museum, French fashion has profoundly influenced the world, and its evolution has been shaped by the integration of many cultures.

„A lot of French fashion designs were also inspired by Chinese culture,” Yung said, adding that clothing, porcelain and scarves inspired by Chinese elements were on display.

„The initial goal of establishing the Hong Kong Palace Museum was to promote the best of Chinese culture and facilitate cultural exchange,” said Louis Ng, museum director of the Hong Kong Palace Museum.

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He hoped that visitors to the museum would explore the century-old French style and discover ancient Chinese court costumes and jewelry in other exhibition halls.

Through cross-cultural dialogue across time and space, visitors can appreciate the beauty of the integration of Chinese and foreign cultures, Ng added.

In addition to this exhibition, he said that later this year, the Hong Kong Palace Museum will also hold a special exhibition together with the Palace of Versailles in France to launch another special exhibition to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its founding. Diplomatic relations between China and France.

This photo taken on June 25, 2024 shows historically valuable French fashion pieces on display at the Hong Kong Palace Museum. (Xinhua/Wang Shen)

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris has selected historically valuable French fashion collections from its 1.4 million collections and exhibited them in Asia for the first time, many of which have never been seen outside of France.

„We hope visitors in Hong Kong and Mainland China will have the opportunity to appreciate these precious exhibits,” said Denis Bruna, curator of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

The storage, transportation and display of these cultural relics have strict requirements for temperature, humidity, light and other environmental conditions, said Mathieu Rousset-Perrier, curator of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Ahead of the exhibition, French cultural heritage conservation personnel made a special trip to Hong Kong to inspect the facilities and equipment. The research report they wrote afterwards spoke highly of the Hong Kong Palace Museum.

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„All these clothes are antiques, very fragile. We are very careful when handling them,” said Yeung, adding that the time to organize the exhibition is longer than previous procedures.

The lighting of the exhibition hall was carefully designed, not only to ensure the visual effect, but also to avoid excessive exposure of the clothes.

In order to properly protect these precious cultural relics, in mid-October this year, after the three-and-a-half-month exhibition in Hong Kong, all exhibits will be safely transported to France.

At the invitation of the Hong Kong Palace Museum, Hong Kong singer Karen Mok has recorded vocal interpretations of the exhibition in Cantonese, Mandarin and English for visitors to listen to on-site or online.

„It’s fun and creative, and I can learn a lot from it,” Mock said.

Mok, who has always enjoyed visiting museums, felt proud to have the Hong Kong Palace Museum in his hometown.

„Hong Kong is a unique place where Chinese and Western cultures collide and merge, bringing creativity and inspiration,” Mok said, adding, „I hope people from all over the world can better understand our culture.”

In the past two years, the Hong Kong Palace Museum has received more than 2.5 million visitors. He said the exhibits at the museum include both traditional artifacts and contemporary art, and visitors are getting used to this new exposure.

Ng hoped to further deepen cultural exchanges between China and other countries in the future by bringing the collections of the Hong Kong Palace Museum to overseas exhibitions and cooperating with foreign museums to jointly exhibit the collections of the two sides.

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„This is going to be amazing!” Ng enthuses as he talks about Chinese and foreign cultural relics and art engaging in conversation.

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