Actors perform lion dance during the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations at Disney's California Adventure Park in Anaheim, the United States, Jan. 17, 2020. Disney's Mickey and Minnie Mouse kicked off the Chinese New Year Season on Friday at Disney's California Adventure Park, looking fabulous in their new traditional Chinese-style costumes designed by leading international fashion designer Guo Pei. (Xinhua/Li Ying)
by Julia Pierrepont III, Gao Shan
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Disney's Mickey and Minnie Mouse kicked off the Chinese New Year Season on Friday at Disney's California Adventure Park, looking fabulous in their new traditional Chinese-style costumes designed by leading international fashion designer Guo Pei.
Unveiled at a packed press reception held at the Disney park, Guo's Chinese-coutured Mickey and Minnie made their highly-anticipated runway debut.
Stepping together into the limelight on stage, Mickey and Minnie were a vision in red and gold silk, the traditional colors of Chinese New Year.
Mickey was tailored in a traditional Chinese-style tunic of fine red silk with exterior pockets, embroidered at the cuffs, hem and front seam with elegant, gold-thread patterns to represent the traditional Chinese element of water, plus gold trousers and red Mickey bubble shoes as the final touches.
Minnie was a vision in red, adorned with a richly decorated red silk cape, fringed with gold tassels, and embroidered front, back and cuffs with traditional Chinese water wave, peony blossoms, and auspicious cloud patterns.
For more than 20 years, Guo has been dressing celebrities, distinguished ladies, royalty and political elites who turned to the Chinese designer for show-stopping creations.
Annie Yu, vice president of costuming for Disney parks and resorts, said at the press conference, "We are so happy to have award-winning couture fashion designer Guo Pei to create Disney's new Lunar New Year costumes for Mickey and Minnie. She is known for her devotion to honoring Chinese traditional art and designs in her beautiful embroidery."
The Chinese New Year, celebrated in most of Asia as the Lunar New Year, falls early this year on Jan. 25. It is based on a 12-year Zodiac cycle of characters, with 2020 the Year of the Rat, which symbolizes wealth, prosperity, and new beginnings.
Disney has repurposed this rodent-centric theme as "The Year of the Mouse," starring their iconic Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Red and gold Chinese-style silhouettes of Mickey and Minnie adorned festive banners, table-settings and merchandize on Friday, but by far the most exciting embrace of Chinese New Year was Mickey and Minnie's new wardrobe.
In a respectful nod to Chinese culture, Disney commissioned elegant new Chinese-style costumes for Mickey and Minnie to wear during the Lunar New Year season, which stretches from Friday until Feb. 9.
"The first step is selecting the right designer who can breathe life, respect and that touch of Disney whimsy into their designs," Gary Maggetti, general manager of Pixar Pier, park banquets and festivals, told Xinhua.
"We brought Chinese elements into Mickey Mouse with Guo Pei's designs and the thought and care that went into it was amazing. Something so beautiful and yet so huggable," he added.
For this challenging effort, Disney chose Guo, a China-born and internationally-prominent fashion designer. No stranger to the limelight, Guo rose to this challenging task with genuine delight.
"I really enjoyed it. It's not a task, it's a pleasure," she told Xinhua in an interview. "I have loved Disney and known these two main characters of Mickey and Minnie all my life. They allow people to keep their childlike innocence."
"When I was a little girl, Disney was like a beautiful dream to me. So now, having a chance to do these designs for Mickey and Minnie is like a dream come true for me," she said.
Guo explained the elements of Chinese and Disney culture that she creatively fused in her designs. Red and gold are the traditional colors of Chinese New Year, so they were good place to start.
"I also used three elements of Chinese culture in the design: one is water, which represents smooth sailing and good fortune; I also added peony to represent elegance, and the third is the traditional 'Auspicious Cloud Pattern' for good luck."
She added, on a more personal note, "I wore Minnie's style of cape when I was a girl. It expresses my childhood memories."
"Children all over the world love Mickey and Minnie, it's an opportunity for me to express and share Chinese culture to the world through my work," Guo added.