Graduates' gowns get traditional flair

By Zhou Huiying | China Daily
Updated: June 27, 2024
Foreign students wear gowns newly designed with traditional Chinese elements at Beijing Normal University's graduation ceremony on Wednesday. QI YUGUANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Ling Ziyi had an extra reason to feel special on the most important day of her four years of undergraduate studies at Beijing Normal University, as she proudly wore the university's newly designed gown for her graduation ceremony on Wednesday.

"I was really excited when I received the traditional Chinese-style gown several days before the ceremony," said the 22-year-old graduate of the School of Arts and Communication. "Each gown is embroidered with the university emblem, the school motto and our name and student number, symbolizing that each student at the university is unique."

A design team led by Oscar-winning art director Ye Jintian, also known as Tim Yip, spent three years designing and improving the exclusive gowns.

The team selected colors from the traditional Chinese palette for the gowns of those receiving bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, and chose a faint magnolia pattern to represent the students' tireless pursuit of a noble spirit.

Ling, who will undertake postgraduate studies at the university, expects to get a master's graduation gown next.

"The gown is not only a unique and meaningful graduation gift, but also reminds us, no matter where we go, that we need to keep in mind the spirit of our school motto," she said.

"We will carry the expectations and wishes of our alma mater, making positive contributions to society," she added.

It has become popular among the nation's graduates to wear traditional Chinese-style decorations, such as a graduation cap embellished with zanhua, a traditional floral headdress, and yunjian, a decorative shawl draped over the shoulders. This year, more universities like Beijing Normal University have joined this trend when upgrading their gowns.

For example, a design team from Shandong University's School of Mechanical Engineering created the exclusive yunjian for graduates of the university in Jinan, Shandong province.

The yunjian features the spring swallow, which represents good luck in Chinese culture, and a carp leaping over a dragon gate, which symbolizes a bright future for the graduates.

Some graduates also choose to wear items of hanfu — traditional attire of the Han ethnic group that includes horse-face skirts, which feature a distinctive pleated design — beneath their graduation gown while posing for photos or attending their graduation ceremony.

"In fact, it is not the good sale sales season for hanfu in the summer, but we recently received a large number of orders for yunjian and horse-faced face skirts," said Yao Chixing, general manager of Luoruyan Hanfu Company Co in Caoxian. "Products with elegant and atmospheric styles featuring traditional Chinese patterns such as auspicious clouds and flowers have better salessell well."

Li Jie, dean of the School of Fashion Design at Shandong University of Art and Design, said that the trend of Chinese-style attire during graduation season is not a superficial trend, but rather a manifestation of the fashion industry's dedication to the inheritance and innovation of traditional Chinese culture.

The young generation continuously strengthens its sense of identity with local culture, infusing traditional attire with a sense of ceremony and providing momentum for the flourishing of Chinese-style fashion, Li said.

Zhao Yimeng in Beijing and Zhao Ruixue in Jinan contributed to this story.

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