Chinese Fashion: Not A Case Of Cultural Appropriation But Cultural Understanding…I Saw It With my Own Eyes

Yue-Sai Kan, Miss China Universe 2011-2016 and me at the Plaza

I’m sure you’ve all read about the bruhaha about a Utah girl’s Chinese prom dress.  Keziah Daum wore a classic Cheongasm dress and got beaten up in social media by people accusing her of cultural appropriation.  In response to that shaming she received tons of encouraging messages directly from China.  And I’m not surprised at all the positive feedback.  Having just hosted the China Fashion Gala at the Plaza last weekend and seeing all the amazing mixing and matching of traditional and modern Chinese elements worn by Westerners and Chinese alike, I can tell you that Keziah’s choice of dress was a wonderful and future-forward one.  Not only was her dress beautiful but it was symbolic of the wonderful fusion of Chinese and Western fashion, and dare I say, the growing multi-cultural understanding we are all craving..

A little context for you all: you may recall that I’m collaborating with Unipx Media, a Chinese media channel that focuses primarily on fashion, lifestyle and tech.  The goal is to turn me into an “influencer” in the Chinese market.  To be honest, our early attempts weren’t making much progress.  Then we had an idea: host the China Fashion Gala!  It would be live-streamed into China, I would meet some movers and shakers, and be photographed with lots of China’s “beautiful people.”  It was all last minute and a bit crazy up until the end.  Not only did I have to attempt to learn a bit of Chinese, but I had to pronounce A LOT of Chinese names without butchering them too much, yikes!  I was also super fortunate enough to wear not just one but two amazing dresses by haute couture designer, Grace Chen.  

The event was gorgeous.  Men and women — old and young alike, — dressed in stunning gowns that expertly married modern with classic, and Western with Chinese styles.  Each and everybody looked regal with a bit of kick!  In fact, when I kicked off my hosting gig, I had to go off script and comment on how everyone looked so proud and beautiful.  And, just to name drop, I got to hob nob with the likes of Christian Louboutin and Vivienne Tam!!!

What struck me the most, however, is fashion’s unique ability to help people appreciate each other’s cultures.  Clothing is a language of it’s own.  For better or for worse, it “speaks” a culture’s definition of beauty, it’s values, rituals, and social norms.  Just as I convinced my 5th grade teacher when I chose to write my history term paper on the fashion of the Wild West (vs, oh, say, a defining war or key U.S. president), we learn about different cultures through our clothing.  Fashion is a way to see how we differ and how we are very much the same.   Grace Chen reinforced this when she treated us to a fashion show of her latest lines.  And thanks to Yue-Sai Kan‘s urging (Yue-Sai, by the way, has been named the “most famous woman in China.”) Chen explained to us how each piece resembles elements of ancient and modern China culture, as well as those of Western life.  It was fascinating and educational!

Even though I just scratched the surface of Chinese fashion in my short experience as a gala host, I will look at Chinese fashion with a deeper sense of appreciation.  And I will know that much more about a culture rich with heritage and nuance.  So instead of criticizing Miss Daum, we should thank her.  We should thank her for taking a risk and going against the grain and wearing a classic Chinese dress.  But more importantly, we should thank her for introducing a different culture to her community, to social media, and, now, to the entire U.S..

Feel free to check out our page hosted by Unipx!

More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

  • While there’s been a recent slew of plus-sized models gracing the media and catwalks, there’s an obvious lack of male models that resemble, in any shape or form, the majority of guys out there.  How men are responding .. if at all?

  • How is the definition of luxury changing in this new climate?  Read this great article.

  • Christian Louboutin went to battle for his red soles.  Why?  Because they are an incredible marker for his brand.  What can other marketers learn from his branding success?

  • A taste from an article in the Dec 2011 issue of Vogue Magazine that outlines the history of the Aesthetic Movement.   It beautifully brings the movement to life via photographs of Saoirse Ronan embodying nineteenth-century muses.

  • An interesting feminist debate about the Miss World beauty pageant.  Is it sexist and objectifying or empowering?

Comment or tweet us your thoughts, or just add more articles to the reading list @Beautyskew

Week in Review: 10/2-10/8

Lots to discuss this week.  Take a look below….

Compliment someone on his/her beauty everyday and see what happens to you and everyone else around you Weekend Observations: Say These Few Words and You’ll Be Popular

Can Halloween costumes go too far?  Yes! Luckily for us it was yanked.  Check it out. Pic of the Week: This Year’s Halloween Scandal

Are men any less masculine if they start wearing make-up? The debate continues. Are Guys Emasculating Themselves If They Wear Cosmetics?

A courageous story of a woman who made her career on body acceptance but could no longer accept herself as she was Body Acceptance Is Great Until It Kills Ya

More engrossing beauty news More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Have a stupendous weekend!


More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Have a look at the latest beauty news that struck us:

  • An interview with Christian Louboutin about his new film on women’s shoe obsession

  • A white mother’s response to people’s reactions to her African-American daughter’s hair

  • Women’s labia reduction surgery on the rise for cosmetic reasons.  Yikes!

  • A thorough analysis by Women’s Wear Daily of shoppers’ attitudes and behaviors

  • Yes, men can wear bracelets.  As long as they’re made from tough leather or strong and and you look appropriately scruffy

More To Love: Additions to The Reading List

  • Tattoos creeping up to necks and faces as recession status symbols

  • Recipes for tasty placentas?! Ok, maybe this isn’t exactly related to beauty but it’s so weird we had to send it along!

  • Other lux shoe designers can now create red soled shoes.  What’s the big deal anyway?

  • In these recessionary time should women dye their gray hair?

  • Vogue Italia, known to be at the forefront of highlighting varied images of beauty, went too far with an article “glamorizing the slave trade” to affirm a fashion trend.  But Christina Brown isn’t willing to give up on them.



Week in Review 8/14-8/20

Soooooo, what did we discuss around this week?

Take the psychological issues out of shopping.  Go consignment! Weekend Observations: Get Glam Minus the Tradeoffs

Why we love that glam artists are looking weirder and weirder Pic of the Week: Go Ahead, Look Outlandish.  It’s Awesome!

Tom Ford understands the nuances of luxury advertising Tom Ford, You Get Advertising

The gross ethnic disparity between the fashion runways and the real folks on the streets Why Don’t Fashion Runways Mirror Actual Demographics?

Feast your eyes on some more beauty news More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Going on vaca to Cape Cod, whoopie!

But don’t worry, Beautyskew will continue to be sharing our views on beauty so keep on reading and participating



More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Want some more juicy beauty reading?  This one is dedicated to celebrating the beautiful elderly amongst us!

  • Think folks in their 70’s and 80’s are too old to be vain?  Think again.  There’s a whole host getting plastic surgery.

  • A beauty pageant for elderly men?  Go figure!|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|t

  • Did you hear the news!?  Louboutin’s trademark red soles are now legal to use by luxury competitor YSL thanks to a New York Court decision.  And Jimmy Choo is next in line.

  • Night cream for 14 year olds?  A wee bit nutty, no?