NEW YORK, Sept. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- From 15th – 21st September, during New York Fashion Week, the Marie Claire Women's Happiness Fund of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation brings a unique form of haute couture from the remote mountains of southwest China to the international metropolis of New York.
The 2016 China Miao Embroidery Charity Exhibition, jointly organized by the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, the People's Government of Kaili City in Guizhou Province, and the leading international fashion magazine Marie Claire, will be open to the public during this period at Venue 57 in New York.
The exhibition's opening day launch ceremony was attended by several hundred special guests including Jing Dunquan, Vice-Chairman of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation (SCLF); Wang Shaoshuai, Chairman of the Federation of Literary and Art Circles of Kaili City; Lena Yang, CEO of Hearst Magazines China; Deng Li, Chief Content Officer of Marie Claire China; senior officials from the culture ministries of China and the United States; and Silvia Morimoto, Chief of Staff of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Celebrities from the cultural sector were also among those who joined the tribute to China's traditional handicrafts, and were given a chance to sense the spirit of Chinese craftspeople.
Miao embroidery is part of the Miao people's folk heritage, and a unique expression of Miao history and culture. Traditionally passed down from mother to daughter, it also embodies the diligence and wisdom of Miao women. Miao embroidery was included in China's first official list of state-level intangible cultural heritage, and is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of the embroiderer's art. Yet for various reasons, the Miao embroidery tradition has also been in danger of dying out.
In 2011, the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation (SCLF) and Marie Claire jointly established the SCLF Marie Claire Women's Happiness Fund, with the aim of preserving intangible cultural heritage, and helping women in ethnic minority regions to improve their living standards and social status. With the enthusiastic support of the People's Government of Kaili City, the fund organized, together with local women, a series of training activities in Miao embroidery techniques and skills.
In the five years since it launched, the program has provided support to eight Miao minority villages, and benefited more than 600 families, with participating families seeing an annual income increase of between 3,000 – 5,000 yuan (around US $450 – 750). More than a thousand pieces of embroidery have been produced, using a range of techniques, and five complete replicas of traditional costumes have also been made using classic Miao embroidery methods. Through cooperation with counterpart government organizations, the program has pioneered a new approach, which combines targeted poverty alleviation work by local governments with preservation of the heritage of Miao embroidery.
The 2016 China Miao Embroidery Charity Exhibition is one of the most important events in the program's calendar. Following in the footsteps of the successful exhibition in Paris, France in 2014, it marks the second time that the SCLF Marie Claire Women's Happiness Fund has brought Miao embroidery to an international audience, and demonstrated the beauty of traditional Chinese culture to the world.
The exhibition is divided into two thematic sections, "Classic Creativity" and "New Life." The works exhibited include many examples of classical Miao formal costumes, accessories and jewelry, all rich in artistic value, as well as reproduction traditional costumes and other embroidery pieces made with the support of the SCLF Marie Claire Women's Happiness Fund. It also features ground-breaking crossover works by international designers, who have taken their inspiration from traditional Miao handicrafts. Thus the exhibition showcases both ancient cultural heritage, and also the new life created by combining the finest traditional handicrafts with the power of contemporary design.
In 2016, the SCLF Marie Claire Women's Happiness Fund is also collaborating with the UNDP, the Huayi Brothers Charitable Fund and other donors, to launch "Weaving into Happiness" – a joint public welfare project that seeks to preserve traditional handicrafts, improve the life of women and children in remote areas, and create a path for sustainable development. Jing Dunquan, Vice-Chairman of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation (SCLF) said, "2016 Chinese Miao Embroidery Charity Exhibition is one of the most important activities to deepen cultural exchange between China and the United States. The art of Miao embroidery embodies the essence of Chinese traditional culture. We believe that through this charity exhibition, the American people will learn more about the ancient Chinese history and splendid Chinese culture, understand the rich and beautiful Chinese dream."
As Ms. Deng Li, chief content officer of Marie Claire China, and the program's initiator, points out:
"In the past 30 years, many exquisite Miao embroidery techniques have rapidly been lost. Many older people in their 60s or 70s are now the last remaining practitioners of a particular style of embroidery. To ensure that these superb ancient techniques are preserved and passed on to the next generation, we founded the Marie Claire Women's Happiness Fund. Our aim is, on the one hand, to protect and revive traditional Miao embroidery, and, at the same time, to encourage the fashion industry to inject modern design into this ancient art form, and help Miao embroidery to move with the times and unleash a new energy."
SOURCE Hearst Magazines China