The Hairstyles of Legend of Zhen Huan: Hua Fei

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It is only fitting that Part II of The Hairstyles of Legend of Zhen Huan features Hua Fei.  Hua Fei is one of the most extravagant and lavish characters in the entire drama…and of course, her hairstyles match her high status.  Most of Hua Fei’s hairstyles exude a sense of power, wealth, and pride.  And just like how Zhen Huan’s hairstyles show how her character evolves over time, Hua Fei’s hairstyles also reflect her trajectory.  In the beginning we see Hua Fei wearing the most bombastic eye-catching hairstyle ever because she’s the top boss in the harem (aside from the empress).  But by the ending Hua Fei does not even wear a single hair accessory; she is a fallen concubine at this point, unable to return to her former days of glory.


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When she wore it:

Starting from episode 1!  This is the first hairstyle that we see Hua Fei wearing.

What she wore it with:

Typical Hua Fei colors: deep purple, yellow/gold, red, pale tan/orange

Thoughts:

This hairstyle is Hua Fei’s most iconic hairstyle.  It is an eye-catcher, a head-turner, and a statement piece; whenever she enters the room her hairstyle just screams “I’M HERE”.  The headpiece’s added height lets Hua Fei have a more imposing figure, while the gold, silver, kingfisher feather, ruby and pearl accents flaunt her wealth.  The thing I love the most about this hairstyle though, is that it’s 100% true to Hua Fei’s personality.  It shows off Hua Fei’s pride and expensive taste, and it’s absolutely perfect when combined with her classic smirk!

None of Hua Fei’s other hairstyles come close to this one in terms of complexity and overwhelming detail.  As you can see above, I even made a diagram to help point out the different parts of the style. O_O”  The first most striking thing about the style is that it has tons of kingfisher feather accessories.  Most of them are floral–the exception being the kingfisher phoenix and butterfly accessories.  I like the vibrant turquoise color of the kingfisher feathers because it matches really well with Hua Fei’s usual purple and red clothes.  The other things that draw me to this hairstyle are the depth and movement of the style.  All of the hair accessories are arranged at different depths and heights which makes the hairstyle feel more 3D.  This adds to the illusion of the phoenix (in the very center) swooping downward in flight over a flower field.  The buyao (dangling accessories) also create movement in the style whenever Hua Fei walks or moves, which contributes to the illusion of the phoenix being in flight.  Lastly, I just want to say that WOW there are tons of rubies, pearls and other precious stones in this style.  Not only that, but there’s even gold detailing behind some of the hair accessories!

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OH WAIT, THERE’S MORE!  Yes, there is even gold detailing on the back of the headpiece.  The amount of detail in this hairstyle is just amazing.


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When she wore it:

Starting around episodes 8-10.

What she wore it with:

Typical Hua Fei colors.

Thoughts:

This hairstyle is the second one that we see Hua Fei wear in the drama.  It is notably simpler than the first one–it’s shorter, does not have any buyao, and has less hairpins.  IMO this is one of Hua Fei’s most practical pieces as well.  But it still retains Hua Fei’s regal aura with the gold, deep red, tan, and deep blue colors.  A couple of the accessories –the circular one with the gold heart-ish shape and the large golden flower accessory in the center of Hua Fei’s head–are reused in the next couple hairstyles, so keep a look out for them!

I don’t have much else to say about this hairstyle because I couldn’t find any high quality stills to look at it in detail up close. >_<  Personally I am not a big fan of this headpiece, but I think that’s just me.  Because for some reason..I have always thought of it as…Hua Fei wearing two really fancy pastry buns on the top of her head?!?!  DON’T ASK….


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When she wore it:

Starting around episodes 11-13.

What she wore it with:

Purples, magenta, green, tan/yellow, light blue

Thoughts:

I’d say that this is Hua Fei’s saddest hairstyle, because she has the most sad scenes when she’s wearing this.  If you look at the stills above, you’ll see that she is not happy at all.  In fact, she’s on the verge of tears in most of the stills.  X_X I generally associate this style with Hua Fei’s slipping grip over the harem and her steadily decreasing power.  Some of the most memorable scenes:

  • When Hua Fei cries over her infertility–once when she is binging on candies, twice when she holds Cao Guiren’s daughter in her arms and sobs over how she does not have a child.
  • Middle left pic:  I think this is when Hua Fei is pleading with the emperor to spare her brother, General Nian Geng Yao.  There is such a difference between here, where she is kneeling, crying, and begging for mercy and the next still:
  • Bottom right pic: This is the scene when Hua Fei storms into the empress’ palace and discovers that Cao Guiren has ratted her out.  Hua Fei promptly kicks Cao Guiren and berates her for her betrayal.  Hua Fei refuses to bow before the empress and leaves with her pride intact, even though all of her crimes have just been revealed in front of the entire harem.

As for the hairstyle itself, I really like the asymmetrical design.  I think it frames Hua Fei’s face really nicely and the asymmetry makes the style interesting to look at from all angles.  There are two phoenix pins, each on the right and left ends.  Again, the positioning of the phoenixes gives the illusion that they are in flight.  If you look really close up, you’ll see that the middle section is decorated with golden flower accessories.  Also, on both the right and left ends of the headpiece, there are stripes of alternating brown and teal brocade + golden beads.  So although the hair accessories look all-gold from a distance, actually there are some teal hints of color as well.

*update* Thanks to those who commented with additional analysis of this hairstyle!  Some have pointed out that the 2 phoenixes on the hairstyle look as though they are falling, which could represent Hua Fei’s long descent from power.  I also noticed that the 2 phoenixes are made of thinner gold, which adds to the hairstyle’s delicacy.  This contrasts to the gold accessories in the 2nd hairstyle, all which are thick and heavy.  And lastly, the asymmetrical buyao may represent an imbalance in power in the harem.


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When she wore it:

Around episodes 28-31, at the height of Hua Fei’s power.  She wears this when the emperor & empress leave the palace and leave the harem in Hua Fei’s hands.  This leads to Hua Fei going on a power trip against Zhen Huan.

What she wore it with:

Tan/orange

Thoughts:

Hua Fei only wears this headpiece really briefly, which is a shame because I really like this one! It just goes to show that gold is not necessarily required for a hairstyle to look regal.  In contrast to the last 2 styles, this one barely has any gold.  But it still totally suits Hua Fei’s smirk and “I will crush you” expression.   Sadly I also couldn’t find many good stills of this hairstyle, so I can’t describe it in much detail.  >_<

Update: If symmetry = power then the symmetrical design of this headpiece reflects Hua Fei’s renewed iron grip over the harem.  Remember, this is when Hua Fei has the harem under her control since the empress & emperor have left the palace.  After Hua Fei messes up and falls from the emperor’s favor (due to Zhen Huan’s miscarriage), she switches right back to wearing the 3rd asymmetrical hairstyle.  Furthermore, I find it interesting that Hua Fei never wears this hairstyle again after the miscarriage incident.  I think it’s likely because she didn’t want to remind the emperor of it anymore.


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When she wore it:

1) When Hua Fei repents before the emperor after Zhen Huan’s miscarriage 2) At the very end of Hua Fei’s life.

What she wore it with:

White, light blue

Thoughts:

So I’ll just talk about these final hairstyles in the order of the collage:

1) Top picture: Hua Fei wears her hair like this right after she wears the previous hairstyle.  This hairstyle is significant because she does it to show her repentance and remorse over Zhen Huan’s miscarriage.  So it’s a strategic move on Hua Fei’s part.

2) Bottom right pic: I believe this is when Hua Fei has been demoted to the low rank of either Changzai or Guiren.  At this point Hua Fei has no hope of returning to her former status, as her brother has been ousted and she has been thoroughly defeated by both the emperor and the concubines in the harem.  The scene I remember the most for this hairstyle is when she and Song Zhi (her right-hand maid) burn joss paper (special money that is supposed to be for the dead in the afterlife) together for Nian Geng Yao.

3) Bottom left pic: This is the last hairstyle we see Hua Fei wearing, right before her death.


Which hairstyle is your favorite?  If you missed Part I of The Hairstyles of Legend of Zhen Huan, check it out! 😉

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • I’ve been watching the much edited version on Netflix (I didn’t manage to get it all before when viewing elsewhere) and this is a great addition. I actually like the final “netting” hairstyle the best. The things we do for beauty!

    • The last hairstyles are the most practical for sure. 😉 Agreed, I cannot imagine the amount of time it must’ve taken for Hua Fei & the other concubines to get ready in the morning. Plus a lot of the headpieces look quite heavy. O_O

  • Your post never fails to amaze me! It’s mind-blowing how you can point out all these details and even state the colours these hairdos are usually matched with! My favourite hairstyles are actually the one Hua Fei wears at the peak of her power (episode 28-31) and the one towards the end where she was repenting/died. Now that you pointed out, I really do see the “illusion of the phoenix (in the very center) swooping downward in flight over a flower field” and I am very amazed! It’s crazy how much time they spend in the details. It’s great that you are sharing your thoughts with us about these intricate details and let us see the beauty as well or I believe many would have missed it and hence wasted all the effort spent on it. I personally thought that the third hairstyle looked like the phoenix was going to fall, especially with the buyao, it seems that balance of power is unstable, which might explain Hua Fei’s woes? Haha, that’s just my amatuer thoughts.

    Once again, thank you for this wonderful post! I always felt that Hua Fei was the best main villain and the Empress and An Lingrong could never measure to her nor outshine her even if they tried their hardest so I’m really glad you did a feature of her 🙂 I wonder if the empress had such outstanding details to her costume/hair as well.

    • Thanks! Actually I just look at my screenshots to see what the characters were usually wearing with each hairstyle. It’s easier to spot the details when I have really large, high quality stills of the hairstyles. Unfortunately, I can’t find good stills for all the hairstyles though. :'( Hm good observation about the 3rd hairstyle. I think the phoenix pins on that style also felt more delicate because they seemed to be thin plates of gold? Whereas the 1st style, the phoenix is huge and is the central focus point of the headpiece.

      I will do a post on the empress sometime in the future, but it will be hard because all her hairstyles look super similar to me. T_T” The empress is more conservative and tries to set an example by not spending too much $ on her outfits. So she doesn’t have tons of new hairstyles like Zhen Huan or even Ling Rong.

      • Yay, the second post is out! My favourite hairstyle in and of itself is the 1st one. It is so spectacular-looking and encapsulates Hua Fei’s character so well that it is hard to like any other of the hairstyles more. 😀 But I think the 3rd hairstyle is the most flattering one for the actress’ face shape/ features. And excellent analysis on the asymmetrical phoenixes representing Hua Fei’s losing her grip on her power! I didn’t notice that angle at all…

        I think the Empress only has 2 hairstyles throughout the entire series. Haha. Aside from the conservatism and thrift which you mentioned, I think it also represents her understated-ness in the plot of the first half of the series at least. In addition, it might also represent the stability of the Empress’ position in the harem, since most of the other characters who had many hairstyles had risen up through many ranks (most notably Zhen Huan and Ling Rong). Of course, this just underlies the needlessness of the Empress getting involved in the palace intrigues. I mean, as the Empress, all she really had to do was to keep a low profile, maintain her position, and she would have become Empress Dowager at some point, regardless of which prince ascended to the throne. =_=

        • Wow what a great analysis of the empress’ hairstyles! I will have to add it to my post on the empress. 😉 I believe that the empress has at least 4 hairstyles–3 dian zi and one that is not a dian zi. But she wears 2 hairstyles for the majority of the time…and both of them look super similar. o_o Agreed about the relation between ranking/promotions and how many hairstyles characters have. Also the relation between beauty & the emperor’s favor is important. The empress didn’t have to focus as much on attracting the emperor’s attention through her looks since..she was already the empress. Whereas Ling Rong had to constantly keep up her looks to keep the emperor’s favor.

  • OMG the amount of detail 0.0 Love your post as usual!! Have you watched Jiang Xin in Hua Xian Gu? I can smell an alternate or reincarnation of Hua Fei from her character there…

    • Thanks! Well I found one scene with Jiang Xin in Hua Qiangu. I think it was in ep3 or 4? But I don’t know much about her character. How is the drama btw?

  • I love the third hairstyle because I am crazy about the dangling phoenix jewelry. The first hairstyle is her most recognizable one but to me, it looks rather fake or like a toy. Maybe it’s because of the picture?

  • Hi!

    Out of all the style there, I always like the first one. It’s very regal and majestic looking. It also symbolize her power at that time.

    A lot of those hairpieces in C-drama and Korean historical drama are heavy. I read somewhere that the actress who played Mishil in the Great Queen Sendeok said that her fake hair was to heavy. She also feared that the hair would fall and thus raised her eyebrow repeatedly to keep her hair in its position. Her eyebrow’s raising ended up as the quirk of character she played though. really love her in that drama. Pity her in real life though.

    • As pretty as the hairpieces are, I think they must be rather uncomfortable and difficult to wear. I heard that it was hard for the actresses in LZH to walk without the buyao swinging too much (the buyao could hit their face if they weren’t careful..). On top of that they are walking on platform shoes and wearing the pointy nail guards! O:

      • The platform shoes are interesting because Manchu created them to duplicate the effect of foot binding, swaying hips etc. The Manchu shoe ‘horse hoof’ also makes as if the wearer has tiny feet.

        I don’t think there is still a woman with bound feet alive nowadays even in Mainland, but back then when my Mum was a child, there’re still quite a few of them in our neighbourhood. The foot binding was done to the daughter of a wealthy family but when they migrated to another country, especially tropical country like here, it became a big problem.

        • Wow I didn’t know that about the platform shoes! O: I thought its main purpose was to make the women look taller. But I can see how they also give the graceful ‘swaying’ effect since the women have to walk super carefully to balance in them. Next time I watch some LZH, I’ll have to keep a look out for the characters’ shoes!

          • Yeah, they wanted to emulate the particular gait that bound feet necessitated and invented their own type of shoe that caused them to walk in a similar swaying manner because those swaying hips were considered erotic.

            Those tiny feet wrapped in lotus shoes were thought as beautiful yet no one would take off the shoes because it would ruin the illusion. I mean, who want to see a mutilated feet?

  • Hello. I am wondering what is the exact episode that Hua Fei holds Wenyi in her arms and cried over her infertility. I do believe that Wenyi was about 1-2 years old. Watch the scene before but cant seem to remember the exact episode. Thanks a lot

  • Hua Fei was promoted to Hua Gui Fei (one rank upward), which means she kinda had to wear the regal tan/orange hairstyle, because she was [Gui Fei]. When she caused the miscarriage of Zhen Huan, the emperor demoted her and removed her honorific name to Nian Fei, meaning she couldn’t wear the regal hairstyle anymore because her rank isn’t high enough to wear it~~~

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