Monday, Jan. 09, 2012

Mao Zedong's Suits

He founded a country, promulgated an ideology and fostered a zealous personality cult whose members terrorized China — so it's only natural that Mao Zedong would start a fashion trend too. Labeled in China the "Zhongshan suit" after Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, Mao brought the four-pocketed tunic back into style during his 30-year reign, earning it the nickname "Mao suit." While the tunic originally symbolized proletarian unity after the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Mao's preference for the garment gave it a whole new meaning — at least in the Western imagination. Today the suit, which is almost always pictured in a stale gray, green or blue color, tends to be representative of communism as well as Mao himself. The look began to fall out of fashion after Mao's death in 1976. Now Chinese leaders are more likely to wear Western business suits, except perhaps during important state ceremonies, in rural China or among young urbanites.