From Auspicious to Suspicious Evaluating the Intention and Use of Imperial Chinese Symbolism in Contemporary Fashion
A Chinese Motif Evaluation System (CMES) was developed as a tool for visual content analysis to assist in understanding the relationships between Chinese culture and aesthetics. The CMES provided a platform to associate aesthetic characteristics such as colors, motifs, and compositions to non-verbal communication cues which helped explain the meaning behind certain motifs. Thirty garment images were selected to illustrate cultural appropriation influenced by traditional Chinese aesthetics. Each set of three comparison images contained a control (an imperial-era Chinese garment) along with a contemporary Chinese apparel design and a contemporary Western apparel design of similar aesthetics to the control. The ten imperial-era Chinese garments were selected for their aesthetic characteristics and non-verbal communication cues representative of Chinese culture. Based on our CMES analysis, contemporary Chinese designers utilize cultural appropriation differently than Western designers. Chinese designers focused primarily on motif and content cultural appropriation, whereas Western designers emphasized content cultural appropriation.