Viewers mock ‘illegal construction’ headpiece in hit costume TV series
Published: Jun 05, 2024 01:19 AM
'illegal construction' headpiece

Photo: Screenshot from weibo

The wedding outfit of the heroine in hit TV series Joy of Life has sparked heated discussion recently, with netizens mockingly referring to her complicated headpiece as an "illegal construction."

The phenomenon of female characters in costume TV series wearing elaborate items on their heads has become increasingly common in recent years, and not all viewers approve. 

Looking back at history, noblewomen did indeed wear complex headpieces. In the Tang Dynasty, it was fashionable for women to adorn their hair with numerous gold hairpins and combs. Similarly, the Qing Dynasty's "one-character head" and "large pull-wing" styles were authentic historical fashions. 

These historical designs, which were large and elaborately decorated, have served as inspiration for costume TV series aesthetics. To some extent, these real historical styles resemble what modern audiences refer to as "illegal construction."

The headpieces in The Empress of China, though seemingly exaggerated, bear similarities to the "broad hairpin comb" trend of the Tang Dynasty.

Modern production teams have significantly exaggerated these historical designs to enhance the visual impact, as a reinterpretation of traditional aesthetics. Although these headpieces have historical foundations from eras like the Tang and Qing Dynasties, they often appear jarring in costume TV series, due to imbalance with the actors' hairstyles. This aesthetic choice has led audiences to reflect on the balance between "authenticity" and "artistry."

Film critic Jiang Hanya said that in some modern costume TV series, the female heroines' headpieces are either as intricate as jewelry or as exaggerated as tall towers. 

"It looks like they are bearing towering trees on their heads," she added.

In these TV series, the headpieces are intricate and luxurious, but the hairstyles themselves appear loose and lacking structure. This is akin to constructing a high-rise building on a weak foundations, resulting in visual disharmony. 

Moreover, traditional opulent styles often require actors to have round, full facial shapes to support them. These designs exaggerate historical styles, and they sometimes overlook the foundational aspects of facial and hair structure, leading to an unbalanced overall look and a lack of authenticity.

In Empresses in the Palace, the exaggerated headpiece of the character Consort Hua perfectly complemented the actress' appearance and performance, making the overall look harmonious. However, if an actor's facial shape does not fit, coupled with an inappropriate hairstyle, it can easily make the headpiece look like an "illegal construction."

Contemporary costume TV series need to find a balance between aesthetics and historical accuracy to satisfy viewers' visual expectations while maintaining a sense of authenticity. In the ongoing debate over headpieces in costume TV series, audiences are not just spectators but also arbiters of aesthetic standards. Costume TV series also have to find an optimal balance between "luxurious" and "realistic" to avoid being ridiculed.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.