Move over Miranda Kerr and Heidi Klum. You have a whole new type of competition for space on the runway. Victoria’s Secret Angels earn their wings for strutting their stuff on the catwalk. However, the participants in a bizarre Chinese fashion show earn a simpler reward: not becoming dinner. Welcome, to the Crustacean Fashion Day.
Let’s be very clear, this show does not rival those in Paris, London, or New York City. However, the models, which are all Mitten Crabs, are considerably happier to be at the Hongze Lake Harvest Festival. Their inclusion means that they will survive at least another year, as locals believe it is bad luck to eat a model the year it participates. The crab fashion show has been a part of the city of Huai’an’s annual traditions for at least 70 years. The city, in Eastern China’s Jiangsu province, celebrates the harvest of hairy crab, the other name for the mitten crab. Although the number of crabs declined in recent years, leading to higher prices, the people around the lake still harvest nearly 6,000 tons of crab each year.
Years ago, local government officials decided the fashion show was a good way to bring interested buyers to the area. While the purchasing process is now more formalized and conducted by large, international seafood companies, the tradition continues. All participants, usually around 150 people, must dress up their crab. Some choose traditional outfits, such as the two crabs dressed in traditional Chinese wedding attire. Other participants opt to deck the crustaceans with bling, including sparkling ribbons and sequins.
Still others attire the crabs in colorful costumes that match those worn by their owners. There is a separate category to judge hand-painted crabs. The reigning champion is a hairy crab painted bright green with colorful pink flowers added for effect. As much as the crab fashion show is part of an old tradition, the event continues to evolve. Most notably, a remote-controlled drone now flies contestants to the runway.