Ultimate Power Dressing


As the models hit the runways, we started London Fashion Week with a glance back to history’s ultimate power dressers, the Qing Emperors.

In an evening that was part talk part exhibition, expert David Rosier gave a detailed talk explaining how China’s imperial rulers displayed and maintained their authority through clothing. David began by looking at Ming dynasty court costume before moving on to the Qing dynasty, and explained how changes, both subtle and dramatic, unfolded over the centuries.

David described how at a glance, imperial courtiers would have been able to determine an individual’s status just from looking at the colours, fabrics, or design of their outfits. He revealed why Ming dynasty dragons are often chasing pearls, but Qing dynasty dragons are grasping them, and why only the Emperor had a dragon on the inside of his robe.

Accompanying the talk was a display of objects and textiles from David’s own collection, including a court necklace and intricately embroidered insignia of rank.