Monday, 6 June 2016

The historical accuracy of the 1980s ancient costumes

The pre-Tang Dynasty women fashion from

After watching Langya Bang, I realised that some Mainland productions are improving, namely in the beautiful cinematography and historical accuracy in costume design. Of course I can complain all day long about the dubbing and the excessive use of CGI and cables during fighting scenes, but let’s stay positive this time. Particularly in the costume design part, I recall that the last few Mainland wuxia series that I watched had been quite accurate, though some has been a hit and miss as well. Granted, I don’t watch a lot of Mainland wuxia series, but I certainly can comment on those that I watched. To me, Bu Bu Jing Xin and Li Hou Zhu definitely joined LangyaBang/Nirvana in Fire in their costume design accuracy (although there might be some discrepancies that my non-expert eyes missed). In the previous decade, it seems the Treasure Venture 2001 (Nicky Wu and Vicky Zhao) was also accurate in their design. I can’t say that about Xiao Shi Yi Lang 2002 (Nicky Wu, Athena Chu) though, for Nicky’s hair and his earlier costumes were definitely not done in a traditional sense.

Having said that, how accurate was the 1980s Hong Kong productions in costume design? Since I have only recently watched the Michael/Barbara series, I can only comment on that, but that’s a good place to start. I’ll divide it into the early Tang Dynasty (the Foundation 1984), the Song Dynasty (LOCH 1983), the Ming Dynasty (CLH 1984) and the Qing Dynasty (FD 1984). I will compare it with the costumes of Nicky Wu and Liu Tao, my other favourite actors (I love Liu Shi Shi too, but I don't watch many of her ancient dramas). I’m still confused with the fashion terminology of Hanfu (Han clothing), so I will just simply refer to the parts as “trousers”, “jacket”, “skirt” etc. Do forgive me for that. Check this video for the fashion up to the Tang Dynasty and this video for the Song, Ming and Qing fashion styles.

The main source of the costume inaccuracy for the 1980s production seems to be the fighting costumes. The thing is, even in those days, plenty of pictures are available on the fashion styles of the Court and commoners. Yet, I’d say no pictures/sketches on the clothes worn by the Jianghu folks are available. Hence, the costumes for Wong Yung, Yeung Hong, Song Siu Ching and Chor Lau Heung would be largely based on guesses or imagination. Granted, they were gorgeous costumes beautiful, but I think they were either inaccurate or non-existent.

The Foundation 1984 (early Tang Dynasty)

Sik Sik (Barbara Yung) & Madame Li (Lisa Lui), the Foundation Ep 8

For the Foundation 1984, exactly because she wasn’t doing any fighting, I suspect that the costumes of Barbara’s Chun Sik Sik in the series were largely accurate or not wildly exaggerated. Madame Li (Lisa Lui, Counsellor Li Jing's wife) or the Lady with the Red Sleeves (Hong Fu Nu) was not depicted accurately, Hong Fu Nu was known to often wear red. I guess Madame Li's costume was the more stylised version of the late Sui and early Tang Dynasties. 

Zhang Chuchen or the Lady with the Red Sleeves

Still, The Foundation 1984 somehow got it right on the general style of women fashion. It was early in the Tang Dynasty, hence the fabulous low-cut strapless dress (covered with beautiful coats) that Tang women loved to wear (I love them too!) were not yet in fashion. But Chun Sik Sik's clothes was not in accordance with the defeated Sui Dynasty either, for that I'm sure. See the first picture of this post for the Sui clothing and below for the Tang clothing. Sik Sik’s costumes seemed to be somewhat correct, at least in the part that she wasn’t wearing the low-cut cleavage style (even if it was in-fashion, I don’t think Sik Sik would dare to wear it). 

Liu Tao's gorgeous Tang dress in Li Hou Zhu

An upper-class Tang woman

Women of the Tang imperial palace

For Michael, I’m not sure about Li Sai Man’s costume because I don’t recall him wearing any diagonal upper jacket. Nicky Wu had both diagonal upper jacket and the round collar one in Li Hou Zhu. 

IMO both Li Sai Man and Kong Fung actually wore Ming-ish Dynasty fashion here

I'm sure LSM's vest/tunic wasn't part of the early Tang fashion ...(Ep 10)

Nicky Wu's costume in LHZ seemed to be more accurate

Mind you that Li Hou Zhu was set in the last chapter of the Tang Dynasty, whereas The Foundation was the first chapter of the Tang, so fashion might change. Nevertheless, I still think that the Foundation didn't get it correct either for the boys fashion.

Legend of Condor Heroes 1983 (late Song Dynasty)

The Song Dynasty upper class women

Barbara as Wong Yung and Michael as Yeung Hong, LOCH'83

Set during the Song Dynasty, LOCH 1983 would largely have the costumes correct for the Court officials and the Five Greats. However, I'm not too sure about Wong Yung's and Yeung Hong's costumes (click here for more LOCH costume photos). I’m very certain that Wong Yung’s beautiful costumes were more imaginative than accurate. Doesn’t change the fact that they were gorgeous costumes, though. A girl needs good practical clothing for fighting, right? She can’t do well with the billowy skirts of the Song Dynasty. She’d trip herself and have Yeung Hong kiss capture her!

...and thus Wong Yung chose to be practical with her short tunics, tho Daddy Heretic got his clothing right.

Speaking of Yeung Hong, despite his gorgeous wardrobe collection, I think some of his costumes were not historically accurate either.

The Song Dynasty male clothing

But I still prefer his LOCH'83 clothing cos they were gorgeous!

The New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung 1984 (mid Ming Dynasty)

Chor tai-gor, Siu Ching and the gang, Ep 23

I've posted some CLH/SSC costumes before (click here). I know that the Ming Dynasty clothing had circle collars, thus perhaps Chor Lau Heung had some accuracy there. Chor tai-gor’s flowing capes did look like the capes of the generals worn in battles. His sleeves were large but cuffed, pretty much in accordance with the commoner and the Court styles below.

The clothing styles of a Ming official and two commoners 

I think Michael’s Chor Lau Heung and Nicky Wu’s Xing Ming Shi Ye costumes were actually somewhat correct. At least in the round-neck and the overcoat/tunic department, which Nicky also wore (according to this site, Ming men also wore sleeveless tunics over their inner garments). Good thing they didn't opt for leather vests and having shoulder-length rock-band hair! (cough, 'Xiaoshiyilang', cough!)

Chor Lau Heung's and Song Siu Ching's clothes in Ep 40 CLH

Nicky Wu's XMSY clothing seems to be accurate to the Ming Dynasty

Nicky wore a round-neck blue overcoat/tunic here (with Wallace Huo in his pirate costume)

Siu Ching’s costume during the garden and hairpin scene should be correct, though, it does look imperial to me. The costumes of the imperial characters seemed to be correct as well. Apart from that, I have to say that CLH 1984 wasn’t that attentive to historical accuracy. It might be done on purpose, but I’m not complaining. I still say CLH and SSC costumes are gorgeous despite the inaccuracy.

Though these costumes might be inaccurate, they were still gorgeous!

Fearless Duo 1984 (Qing Dynasty)

For the 1984 Fearless Duo, I dare say that the most glaring inaccuracy will be men’s hairdo. The Qing Dynasty men hairdo required the actors to shave up to mid-head. In FD and other Qing Era series in the 80s, the actors retained their hair cover. Perhaps TVB or its actors didn’t want to shave heads back then, hehehe. I see no problem with the FD costumes for it is easy to have them historically correct (save some details that escaped my layperson eyes), given the myriad photos and mementos from the Qing Dynasty.

Szeto Man-Mo didn't dare to shave half his head, FD Ep 5

Though he should have taken the example of Emperor Yongzhen...

In conclusion, the 1984 TVB series featuring Michael and Barbara seem to have the accuracy in the Court and commoner clothing, yet they take artistic freedom in the fighting/travelling costumes. The exception is for some of Chor Lau Heung's Ming Dynasty clothes and Fearless Duo 1984 which had the Qing Dynasty setting. The FD costumes were largely accurate, but the men hairstyle took another artistic freedom (or shaving hair was not a favourite thing back then in the 80s).

At least they didn't go for the leather vest and short hair style like this!
(sorry Nicky, I love you, but your Xiao Shi Yi Lang costumes were horrid)

To close this section, I want to post this beautiful baby blue costume of Liu Tao as Mu Nihuang in Langya Bang. Langya Bang costumes seem to be mostly faithful to the Northern and Southern Dynasties (except for Fei Liu’s costume). I love Liu Tao’s costumes so much, I want to rewatch the series just to see those clothes! (and for Nihuang/Lin Shu scenes...). 

Princess Nihuang's baby blue dress
Here's where she joked around with Hu Ge

Now, any comments? Do let me know what you think....


Anonymous said...

Beberapa waktu lalu aku jg berpikir, kok setelah liat movie, seri tentang wuxia, sepertinya TVB punya style kostum tersendiri yg gak sama dengan yang lain terutama kostum pendekarnya, supaya ringkas kali, tapi bagus kostumnya, baru-baru ini aku heran kenapa kostum pendekar Butong/Wudang di HSDS86 terlalu mewah untuk ukuran pendekar perguruan yang tinggal di Gunung dan dikepalai seoarang Taoist, kalo kostumnya Zhang Chui San masih okelah, keliatan bagus tapi gak mewah banget sebagai pendekar Butong/Wudang.
The Grand Canal '87 Tony Leung produksi TVB early Tang Dinasty (aku belum nonton) jg ada Li Sai Man, kostum wanitanya keliatan dada sedikit, gak seperti produksi Mainland yang lebih keliatan dadanya.
Qing Dynasty, The Mount Of Deer 1984 Tony Leung & Andy Lau, kepala mereka dibotakin kok, aku dulu mikirnya mungkin kurun waktu tertentu di jaman Qing Dynasty mereka gak perlu ngebotakin kepalanya lagi, tapi aku juga belum dapat konfirmasi yang jelas mengenai ini sampai saat ini.

Icha said...

Pagi... Maaf aku ga nyadar ada comment ini semalam yg aku perlu approve...

Emang kostum ATV bedakah sama TVB tahun 80an? Aku terakhir liat ATV yg Pendekar Ulat Sutera, n udah 30 th yll kale...

Iya sih, kostum 7 murid Butongpai Di HSDS mewah ya...kalo di CLH, murid2 Butong/Wutang pake seragam abu2 semua...

Menurutku, make sense kalo Wong Yung, Siu Ching et al milih pake celana panjang n dilapisi tunic di atasnya. Supaya ga kesrimpet kalo pake rok panjang...hehehe...

Emang kostum2 Pendekar cewek produksi Mainland kayak apa sih? Long skirts gitu yg mereka pake? Kostumnya Nihuang di Langya Bang lumayan praktis walo tetap looks like a long skirt. Not too many layers lah...

Icha said...

Oh, DOMD dibotakin beneran ya? Baru tau. Soalnya Fkying Fox nya Lu Liangwei dia ga dibotakin, Sama kayak Szeto Man Mo (Fearless Duo).

About the Tang strapless dress, aku baru2 ini liat the Lady of the Dynasty, Fan Bing Bing. Alamak, ga bisa dinaikin dikit apa tuh kemben... Rendah banget sampe cleavage nya keliatan....

Anonymous said...

Aku gak pernah nonton seri ATV, mungkin yang aku tonton di TV lokal ada yang produksi ATV tapi aku gak ngeh....iya sepertinya style kostum produksi ATV hampir sama dengan TVB.
Ini link Come Rain Come Shine yg main Felix Wong, Michael, Kent Tong, they looked cute :)

Anonymous said...

Aku belum nonton seri produksi mainland cuma beberapa kali liat gambarnya.
Sesudah era seri wuxia TVB 80 an, aku jarang nonton wuxia lg, oh ya kostum Maggie Cheung di Movie Hero simple n walau panjang tp dia bisa luwes geraknya sebagai pendekar.
Aku pernah nonton Curse of golden flower, earlier Qi Dynasty after Tang Dynasty, itu kostumnya jg rendah bgt, pas ditanyain ke Sutradaranya kenapa begitu katanya jaman itu kostum wanitanya seperti itu.

Icha said...

Aku barusan upload dua foto Tang Dynasty fashion di post ini, juga bisa dilihat di sini:

Mereka pake strapless dress (ato kemben kali), tapi cleavage-nya ga kelihatan banget. Aku bukan mau sok prudent sok gimana... kalo emang culture-nya begitu, ya gapapa. Kayak traditional south Indian dresses, mereka ada yang "cuma" pake strapless bras doang, tapi terlihat cantik pas dipadu dengan rok yang mekar dan selendang-selendang...Jaman dulu di Indonesia kan juga pada pake kemben, so I have no problem with open shoulders etc.

Maksudku, kalo memang pas itu cleavage-nya rendah, ya gapapa, rendah. Tapi kalo pas jaman itu memang pake strapless dress, tapi ga serendah itu cleavage-nya, ya disesuaikanlah sama jaman itu.

Btw, link-mu ga bisa dibuka say, yang Come Rain Come Shine.

Iya sih ya, costume Maggie Cheung di Hero juga keren dan panjang dan ga kesrimpet. Tapi aku tetep suka kostumnya Wong Yung dan Siu Ching yang bertunik pendek itu, tho not historically accurate...

Icha said...

Alright, I just googled "Curse of Golden Flowers". I totally forgot that they not only showed cleavages, they showed boobs! Like, spilling out boobs! Buset deh.... tumpah bo!

Different from Liu Tao's costumes in Li Hou Zhu; with strapless, but still classy, not trashy. Sorry Gong Li... but your costume needs some adjustment, or a larger bustier size...

Buset bo....

Anonymous said...

Aku baca sih serinya Fan Bing Bing The Empress of China kena sensor oleh badan sensornya, SARFT, setelahnya cuma keliatan muka doang.
Ini linknya
Kalo gambar2nya bisa kebuka kan?

Icha said...

Nah sekarang baru kelihatan. Hehehe, culun-culun banget mereka ya taon 81... imut banget!!!

Barusan google, kostumnya FBB di Empress of China ga separah Gong Li et al di Curse of Golden Flower. Tetep sih keliatan cleavage nya, tapi ga spillover kayak Gong Li dan dayang-dayang nya...

Tetep mah my favourite Tang costumes are Liu Tao's... classy bo...

Anonymous said...

Indeed, They're so cute.
Aku juga kalo kostum suka yg classy.