Chinese Dress in Detail

Sau Fong Chan, Sarah Duncan

A head-to-toe exploration of Chinese dress through sumptuous, detailed photography of some of the most fascinating historic and contemporary pieces in the V&A’s outstanding collection.

Chinese Dress in Detail reveals the beauty and variety of Chinese dress for women, men, and children, both historically and geographically, showcasing the intricacy of decorative embroidery and rich use of materials and weaving and dyeing techniques. The reader is granted a unique opportunity to examine historical clothing that is often too fragile to display, from quivering hair ornaments, stunning silk jackets and coats, festive robes, and pleated skirts, to pieces embellished with rare materials such as peacock-feather threads or created through unique craft skills, as well as handpicked contemporary designs.

A general introduction provides an essential overview of the history of Chinese dress, plotting key developments in style, design, and mode of dress, and the traditional importance of clothing as social signifier, followed by eight thematic chapters that examine Chinese dress in exquisite detail from head to toe. Each garment is accompanied by a short text and detail photography; front-and-back line drawings are provided for key items.

An extraordinary exploration of the splendor and complexity of Chinese garments and accessories, Chinese Dress in Detail will delight all followers of fashion, costume, and textiles.


Sau Fong Chan


Sau Fong Chan is a curator in the V&A's Asian department and looks after the textiles and dress collections from China and Southeast Asia.

Sarah Duncan

Photographs By