This long-sleeved button-down shirt is made from silk hand-woven by Miao grandmothers in eastern Guizhou. The time-consuming process of weaving silk threads on a hand-loom is now only found in the province’s most remote villages. Their silk worms are raised during the months of April to June, when they can be fed the fresh leaves of the local mulberry trees.
The entire process is done inside each family’s home: raising silk worms, spinning the thread, weaving on the handloom, and finishing the fabric in boiled water. The silk thread is so fine that only 10 centimeters of narrow-width fabric (38 cm wide) can be woven in one day. It took three weeks just to weave enough fabric for one shirt.
The whiten the fabric, it was placed in the sun to dry. (Horse dung was traditionally used to bleach fabrics, but we passed on that option.) Then, it was washed with a mineral powder that gives a dry feel and naturally repels mosquitos.
The hand-pleated skirt was made from organic cotton fabric hand-woven by the Dong minorities in Zhaoxing village. The fabric is brushed with water buffalo glue and tree sap for stiffness. Natural indigo and green persimmon are combined to achieve the black dye.
The black hand-pounded metal pieces show Miao mythological motifs of dragons, half-men / half-birds, and sacred dogs. Traditionally, they were made of pure silver to show the wealth of the family.
Above look credits: Sunny Lee (photographer), Yi Guo (stylist)