“Red is the great clarifier bright and revealing. I can’t imagine becoming bored with red it would be like becoming bored with the person you love.” Diana “Empress” Vreeland.
Red (紅| hóng in Chinese) stands for communism. Red stands for censorship. Red conjures up thoughts of a mystical Middle Kingdom located far far away. And red represents passion. Red has more personal associations than any other color. Recognized as a “catalyst,” this color genetically generates a feeling of excitement and, what’s more, the amount of red is directly related to the level of energy perceived. Red draws attention and sparks debate. A keen use of one shade of red as an accent can immediately focus the eye on a particular element.
In Chinese culture, colors correspond with the five primary elements, the four cardinal directions and the four seasons. Red is associated with fire, south and summer. Traditionally speaking, the color red represents the boding of good luck and fortune; a symbol of perpetual happiness. Putting a little Roaring Twenties spin on things, we have witnessed the rise of the term “red tourism,” related to historical sites and places which record China’s revolution led by the Communist Party of China from 1921 to 1949. Because both China’s five stars flag and the Communist flag are red, the Chinese named these historical sites “red scenic spots.” A little fact du week for those socio-politico buffs among you.
In sum, the color red and its associated meanings have seen a revolution in their Chinese being.
Top to “Bottom”
In China, red relates to fire and energy and has come to symbolize vitality, celebration, good fortune, good luck and prosperity. During Chinese Lunar New Year (CNY), aka Spring Festival (春节| chūnjié), on February 1 this year — roaring in the Year of the Tiger, you’ll see gifts given in small, red envelopes called 红包 (hóngbāo) and Chinese homes decorated with bright red banners to bring good luck.
In Chinese culture, red, black, and white are considered the three main “essential” colors. Red — the most popular one — symbolizes life and its many positive aspects. Therefore, it is often associated with the vitality of life, happiness, as well as wealth, luck, and success. Red also takes center stage during other significant occasions including birthdays, a business deal being negotiated, or even when playing mahjong.
Now, in the lead-up to CNY, sales of red underwear, just like those of any other festive decoration such as door couplets, paper cuttings and lanterns, soar. Red undies are often worn standing on the threshold of a new animal kingdom annus and it is considered an auspicious accessory that all Chinese people — regardless of gender and age — put on to really maximize their chances of luck and fortune in the coming year.
Having said that, there are other creative options for wearing red during the celebratory period. You can choose smaller items like a red vest, a red tie, or a red accessory like a bracelet. Or just paint your nails red.
However, shying away from prying eyes, red underwear for many is still the best alternative to a bright red outer garment. In terms of size, the Chinese belief is “the bigger, the better” because more red fabric equals more luck. #TemperTeachings
For women, Bridget Jones-styled granny pants will be the No.1 choice for those wanting to receive maximum luck.
The Prowess of Fashion
From granny pants to fashion, because we cannot earn our China Through Fashion stripes — #weheartcheesy — without digging our claws into clothing, now can we. On that note, Spanish fast fashion giant Zara in late January collaborated with Chinese fashion designer Susan Fang on a capsule collection to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Which has now sold out.
Inspired by Fang’s personal memory of childhood, her family, her hometown of Ningbo and CNY family celebrations, the capsule included 22 pieces of womenswear, menswear, kidswear and accessories boasting special spray-paint and feather-like prints.
“Consumer reaction on WeChat, where the best performance article was found (from Zara officials account @Zara and totaling 100K reads), was overwhelmingly positive with fans loving the romance of the collection,” according to Jing Daily.
In its first collab with an independent Chinese designer, Zara managed to avoid the obvious CNY symbols and motifs, think red and gold and a tiger print, giving full rein to Fang’s creative integrity. The collection, according to consumer review, felt “authentic.”
For the capsule, Fang created special prints that feel like spray paint and feather floating.
“It represented dreamy and happy memories, as well as our new textile technique from last season called Air Flower; the womenswear and kids apparel all had a very light and happy feel to them. The menswear used a darker hue of blue, with everything connected by special flower-encased resin beads. We also used a lot of red to connect with the CNY season,” Fang told one Chinese media outlet.
Hair styling product brand ghd collaborated with fashion illustrator Yvan Deng on a limited CNY edition storage case adorned with Deng’s works featuring seven Chinese modern women.
Inspired by the ghd brand, this collaboration aims to empower contemporary Chinese women to embrace their best hair day everyday, with confidence and unique temperament, to ring in the Tiger Year. Deng used the brand’s signature gold, silver and black lines, and a splash of rich Chinese red to set off the New Year’s festive atmosphere, vividly depicting the image of a Chinese woman using a ghd styling clip to create a beautiful hairstyle.
All seven women represent different personalities: long, straight hair, playful small waves, elegant big waves, “spontaneously” short, embodying the modern urban fashionable woman easily switching between different identities in the workplace and daily life.
Ready to roarrr?!