Introducing Der Ling

At SKYLENCE, we look to the past for inspiration to create modern garments. Our customers are independently minded women with a passion that drives them to chase their dreams. It is fitting that our designs take their inspiration from some of the most interesting women in history. The Derling Edit takes its name from Yu Der Ling (裕德龄), a Princess who served as lady-in-waiting to Empress Dowager Cixi (慈禧太后). Let us introduce you to the life of this fascinating woman who continues to captivate and inspire us all. 

Der Ling was the daughter of a Chinese nobleman who served as a foreign minister in Japan and France. He had revolutionarily progressive views on educating children, including both his daughters. Der Ling enjoyed the benefits of a western education in Paris and was taught how to speak both English and French, as well as the art of dance alongside Isadora Duncan, an acclaimed American dancer. 

After returning to China, Der Ling became Empress Cixi’s first lady-in-waiting in 1902. Her time in France would provide Der Ling with the unique experience to assist Empress Cixi with dealing with foreign ministers by translating their conversations. Der Ling’s brother, Xunling, would be responsible for taking the only photographs of Empress Cixi that we have today. She was given the title of ‘Princess’ by the Empress Cixi, due to her position as her first lady-in-waiting. The title was a reflection of Cixi's fondness for Der Ling. 

She remained with Cixi until 1905 when her family moved to Shanghai. Der Ling would go on to publish her memoirs in the book entitled ‘Two Years in the Forbidden City’, giving a unique glimpse into the final years of the Qing Dynasty. The book was inspired by her desire to provide the world with a genuine portrayal of Empress Cixi, or the ‘Old Buddha’. The release came just before the 1911 revolution that brought an end to the Qing Dynasty. 

Der Ling met her American husband Thaddeus C. White and moved to the United States in 1915. It was during this time that she began to teach Chinese at Berkeley, and continued to write several books and articles about her years with Cixi. Der Ling has continued to fascinate people all over the world, and her life was the subject of a book by Grant Hayter-Menzies released in 2008 that was entitled ‘Imperial Masquerade: The Legend of Princess Der Ling’. 

The embroidered sequin fabric of our Derling Edit reflects the individuality and forward-thinking that was embodied by Princess Der Ling. Our beloved Derling jackets have appeared in Vogue and Tatler, a reflection of their ability to captivate your imagination and to encourage creativity. We hope that wearing the pieces from our Derling Edit will inspire you to follow your ambitions.

Our mission is to create versatile luxury to empower the SKYLENCE woman to use her power and talent to achieve her own success, and to look fabulous in the process. Let us help you embrace your inner Princess Der Ling!


1 comment

As Der Ling’s biographer ( it is lovely to see that her superb sense of style lives on.

Grant Hayter-Menzies

Grant Hayter-Menzies January 28, 2022

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