Wen Yue Zhang’s graduate collection drew inspiration from the cult favourite Chinese movie Farewell My Concubine (1993), which upon its release had a lasting impact on young people of Wen Yue’s generation. The film is a harrowing narrative on history, politics, romance and drama that center around two boys who grew up as apprentices to an opera school set in the mid-1920s. It follows them on their journey of rigorous training to master the art form of the Peking Opera.
In the film, the line “yet I am by nature a boy, not a girl”, is recited over and over again which points to the age old tradition of men performing female roles on stage, namely one that is a ‘female of the coquettish type’. Sparking Wen Yue’s interest, this particular aspect of traditional Peking opera expanded into what became her motif.