Saturday, 1 May 2010

Exhibition of Costumes from The Banquet and The Warlords

I know this isn't really a movie costume blog, but I was wandering through the Hong Kong International Airport and I stumbled upon an exhibition of movie costumes. It was really quite awesome and (as I happened to have a camera with me) as I took a lot of photos for reference and inspiration, it seems appropriate to share them here.

The costume to the right is Empress Wan's Coronation Robe from The Banquet (inexplicably re-titled in America as Legend of the Black Scorpion).  I remember it rather fondly from the film, and it is still more than slightly striking in person (though I do think the rather harsh yellow lighting of the room did it no favours).

Though I have typed up the exhibition blurbs verbatim (odd syntax, dodgy grammar and all), I have to say they are rather uninformative as to materials and methods used. The cloth of the beautifully elaborate phoenix dress is described only as "high quality fabric."

The other interesting film there were costumes from was The Warlords. They also had various props (including a pair of lovely embroidered slippers) and accessories in glass cases, but those were not as well displayed.

The armour is utterly sumptuous in its detail. Even the clasps are highly decorated.  I particularly liked squinting at the joins and trying to work out how the bits all fitted together. Historical Chinese armour is by no means a field in which I know much about, but I am sorely tempted to borrow design elements from these costumes now.

There were also a few costumes from modern-era films that I wasn't exactly fascinated by, but I took a couple of photos anyway and they are under the cut.

Among the most impressive pieces was the Golden Armour. It appeared in The Warlords, though it was never actually worn in it. The blurb informs me that is why it is the heaviest of all the pieces made. I wonder how impractical it is to move in. I particularly like how the padded sleeves are studded with these beautiful gold discs. It's just insanely detailed.

In Other News: I'm writing a random saint generator. It is fun.

More photos (and exhibition blurbs) under the cut.

Empress Wan's Coronation Robe:
This is the main costume Empress Wan. Accordig to Zi Yi Zhang's skin tone, the art director chooses this saturated but blazing red. The high quality fabric of this phoenix long dress shows glamour and elegant, which represents the Empress' superiority. The U shape collar is tailor made, which gives the dress a fusion of Chinese and Western style. This is also a Phoenix crown and 7-8 Phoenixes on the dress frill.

General Yin's Armor

He wears his armor when he attends the official meeting.

General Li's Armor
During formal military ceremony, Emperor Li will put on his own armor. The armor represents the complete authority and human desires, which are all sealed under the hard cover.

Brown Red Armour (Zhao Er-Hu)
In the Qing dynasty, soft armour was massively uses, These soft armour were made of thick wadding cotton or silk fabrics with some iron sheet inserted underneath, and fixed by copper nails. It looks like a cotton overcoat and is cold-resistance which was suitable for the infantrymen and cavalries in the cold Northern part of China. Zhao Er-Hu worn cotton garment while he was a cateran, and changed to militray uniform after he joined the Qing army. After winning the war of Shucheng Country, Zhao became the Lieutenant General, and he started to wear this Brown Red Armour.

Cateran's costume (Jiang Wu-Yang)
During the late Qing Dynasty and around "Taiping Tian Guo"/"Tai Ping Heavenly Kingdom", people were struggling for their lives due to the natural disasters and the countless battles. Therefore some people turned to the cateran for the surviving just like the two leading roles in "The Warlords" [...] The clothes for the cateran usually made of kapok hemp, and animal skin will be added for keeping warm in the mountainous area. In order to match the factual of the movie, the caterans' design were simple, sludgy/homespun and mostly in black colour.
Jiang was wildness as wolf and ruthless cold as an assassin. To facilitate for the fighting, Jiang carried his broadsword on his with rope and did not have a sheath. Moreover he carried a pair of daggers as his auxiliary armament. Usually the dagger was used to attack enemies in a short distance, so the user must be skilled. He also took the oath with his sworn brothers - General Pang and Zhao Er Wu by cutting himself with these daggers. Along with the daggers, he carried the bugle and a small water bag with him. 

Golden Armor (General Pang)
In order to strengthen the sense of reality, some armor would add tinsel and make it heavier. However for the action scenes, the design of armor would be lighter and dexterous. The golden armor was the desire symbol of General Pang; however he was being assassinated and can only look at it from far. As the actor did not need to put it on, therefore the design used many metal insets and made it the heaviest costumes in the movie.

Props in Boxes:

Costumes I wasn't particularly interested in:

1 comment:

  1. I know General Yin's armour is made of leather, but I kind of want to do something like it out of those little countertop samplers from various hardware stores because 1) it'd be free; I'd just have to do it over time and 2) marble armour would look freaking cool.


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