I should probably be happy that Nomadland and Minari are getting so much recognization, but when I saw the Academy Awards nominations all I could think about was how ridiculous it was that Bina Daigeler got nominated for Best Costume for Mulan. Her costumes are so atrocious that most Chinese people can’t even tell if they were poorly made because she wants to offend Chinese people on purpose, or because she didn’t care enough to make something inoffensive (probably a mix of both). To make it worse, the live-action Mulan was nominated for awards by both the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards and the Costume Designers Guild Awards, so even the “professionals” think so poorly of Chinese traditional clothes that they think Mulan’s costume designer is good.
Due to both popularization of hanfu as an everyday garment and more types of dramas being made, costume designers of Chinese period pieces have gone through so many different trends, diversified the types, and improved the quality of their costumes in recent years. They’ve tried recreating artifacts, revitalizing traditional textile printing methods, built entire hand-embroidery departments, experimented with a variety of Western fabrics and silhouettes for fantasy and sci-fi costumes. Yet Disney’s live-action Mulan is here to remind that them that most in the West still thinks of them as rednecks with hand-me-down aesthetics leftover whose best costumes look like 1980’s TVB leftovers.
So, in honor of the Chinese designers who get so little recognization I can’t find their names for most of the dramas, I looked through the list of Chinese dramas that aired in 2020 to make a list of period dramas with better costumes than Mulan.Continue reading