John E. Vollmer with Sarah Fee. By Design: Imperial Chinese Dress
Featuring a large number of the most exquisite garments made to dress the court, ‘The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors’ at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) reveals the extraordinary luxury and splendour of imperial Chinese dress. It further speaks to clothing’s crucial political role: there was nothing arbitrary about courtly attire in imperial China. From the emperor to the lowliest bureaucrat, dress codes dictated the cut, colour, embellishment and types of fabric according to event, season, gender and, above all, the rank of the wearer. From its ascension to the Dragon Throne in the mid-1600s, the Qing dynasty government used sumptuary legislation to impose its rule on the body politic, as well as to ensure the retention of a distinct Manchu, horseman identity. Nevertheless, during their leisure time, residents of the Forbidden City—especially women—enjoyed considerable latitude in what they wore.