Session to double as fashion showcase
The annual session of the National People's Congress, which opens today, will be a stage for some deputies to show off their beauty and elegance to hundreds of media cameras.
Twenty-two NPC deputies and eight Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference members, all from Zhejiang, will brave the cold this morning as they arrive together dressed in handmade designer cheongsam.
Renowned fashion designer Wu Haiyan, who is also a CPPCC delegate, had spent a year designing and making the dresses, the Qianjiang Evening News reported yesterday. Five of the outfits were still undergoing final touches at workshops on Friday evening, and one requiring handmade embroidery was not expected to be finished until this morning, Wu was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Wu was to help the female delegates match trousers, overcoats and scarves last night, while Mao Geping, a renowned make-up artist for movies, was to do their faces this morning.
'We will promote modern Zhejiang silk and enhance the international image of the way Chinese women dress,' Wu said, noting the designs will be 'elegant and classic'.
Wu said that she and Zhao Feng, curator of the China Silk Museum and also an NPC deputy, would propose that Chinese women dress in clothes 'that demonstrate the Chinese culture'.
Wu said she had intended to integrate traditional handicrafts in making the dresses - such as including handmade embroidery, paintings and silk-weaving in a modern dress design - but most deputies said they preferred a more traditional look. Some requested that their cheongsam be made short like a coat.
'Some have very few opportunities to wear a [cheongsam] and they are very excited about it,' Wu said.
But not everyone shared their enthusiasm. Wang Xuming, a former spokesman for the Ministry of Education, criticised deputies on his microblog, saying they were in Beijing to 'discuss and participate in politics'. Wang said making such a fuss over dresses was scandalous.
'The NPC and CPPCC are not award-presentation ceremonies like the Oscars,' Wang said.
'It's not an entertainment event. Those who are making them, wearing them or reporting on them have lost their mind.'