Qipao 旗袍 : The Traditional Chinese Dress

The Qipao, the traditional Chinese dress, has been worn by women since the early 17th century. Chuchu Xu, ISV Country Ambassador representing China at Kent State University shares more about this beautiful, traditional dress.

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]”Fashion fades. Only style remains the same.” -Coco Chanel[/typography]

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Elegance[/typography]

Two women wearing Qipao in 1930s Shanghai poster.
Two women wearing Qipao in 1930s Shanghai poster.

In the early 17th century in China, based on Manchu clothing, which was once exclusively worn by Manchu people. An early version of Qipao, a collarless tube-shaped gown, was well developed and became popular among the royal palace of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

In the 1920s in East China, re-styled in accordance to a woman’s body lines, Qipao was then changed to a more fitting and revealing gown with a high collar.

“Qipao is like a wonderful blossom in China’s bright-colored fashion scene.” The beauty of Qipao stands out from other modern clothing.

“Stunning is one of its features from the collar, loop, chest, waist and hips to the lower hem. Not only does it lay stress on the natural beauty of a female figure, but also makes women’s legs appear more slender.” From the small details, such as the buttons, the collars, the lace patterns, everything has to be perfect and matches each other.

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]“Qipao characterize Chinese women’s modesty, softness, and beauty. Like Chinese women’s personality.”[/typography]

speaker

Click here to hear how to pronounce “Qipao”

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Old Shanghai Glamour[/typography]

 

“It’s undeniable that Shanghai in the 1920s and 30s, dubbed by the Chinese as the ‘Old Shanghai’, epitomized the most glamorous and most stylish of China in the last century, on par with Paris.”

Despite the rich art deco architectures and designs from the Western influences and Chinese sensitivities, nothing embodied the Old Shanghai’s unique charm more than Qipao. At that time, Shanghai women like to wear Qipao in their daily life. It doesn’t matter where you go, what you do, whether you are a student, housewife, artist, or lawyer, you walk down the street with your Shanghai style.

Elizabeth Taylor in a slim cutting Qipao
Elizabeth Taylor(right in both photos) in a slim cutting Qipao

In 1930s Shanghai, people began to wear a western overcoat, jacket or sweater over a Qipao due to the influence from the French. During that time, more western design elements were added as such as, a turndown collar, v-neck, ruffle collar, and sleeves. With the introduction of bust darts, waist darts and inset sleeves, Qipao further fitted the lady’s body shape.

Having a gorgeous and perfect fitted Qipao from a good tailor is a must for Shanghai women, but nowadays, they only wear it when they are going to special occasions such as weddings, holidays and business parties.

The Old Shanghai aura remains relevant to our contemporary sensitivity. In today’s Shanghai, it’s easy to find a Qipao that accommodates your needs.

Timeline (left to right) oDaoguang Period (1821-1850) oXianfeng Period (1850-1861) oGuangxu Period (1875-1908) oRepublican Period (1913-1949)
Timeline (left to right)
o Daoguang Period (1821-1850)
o Xianfeng Period (1850-1861)
o Guangxu Period (1875-1908)
o Republican Period (1913-1949)

 

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Traditional and Modern Style[/typography]

 

Most of the traditional Qipao were made of silk, and embroidered, with thick laces trimmed at the collar, sleeves and edges. It completely shows off the natural beauty of a female’s figure. Women like to wear it to show their special grace for its unique charm.
Traditional: Most of the traditional Qipao were made of silk, and embroidered, with thick laces trimmed at the collar, sleeves and edges. It completely shows off the natural beauty of a female’s figure. Women like to wear it to show their special grace for its unique charm.

 

Modern: This is a modern Qipao by Viva Women. Qipao became a fashion icon for many designers, over the years. Today, modern variations are made out of a variety of fabrics and vary in lengths. But you can still find the basic elements.
Modern: This is a modern Qipao by Viva Women. Qipao became a fashion icon for many designers, over the years. Today, modern variations are made out of a variety of fabrics and vary in lengths. But you can still find the basic elements.

 

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Met Gala 2015[/typography]met gala international student voice magazine

The Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala (event) for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. The theme of this year’s Met Gala, also called the Met Ball is, “China, through the looking glass.” -CNN

In the world of global fashion today, nothing can represent the quintessential “Chinese” elements more than the Qipao.

In the West, some people like to wear the Qipao in a more sexual, appealing way with exotic seduction, but in fact, for many Chinese ladies, the Qipao is the best way to pull off a professional look without looking macho and to show their grace in a modest and humble way.

To me, the two winners of the Met Gala 2015 on red-carpet is Bee Shefer and Li Gong.

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Bee Shefer[/typography]

Bee Shefer, wearing a gorgeous burgundy dress printed with traditional Chinese patterns from bottom to top, totally showed her elegance and grace. She looked absolutely stunning in the dress. Bravo!
Bee Shefer, wearing a gorgeous burgundy dress printed with traditional Chinese patterns from bottom to top, totally showed her elegance and grace. She looked absolutely stunning in the dress. Bravo!

 

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Li Gong[/typography]

Li Gong, a famous actress from China, dressed in a velvet Qipao style gown with lace sleeves and back, shined on the red-carpet.  She demonstrated this year’s China theme with glamorousness. Some of the stars on the red-carpet misinterpreted the “Through the looking glass” in an exaggerated way.
Li Gong, a famous actress from China, dressed in a velvet Qipao style gown with lace sleeves and back, shined on the red-carpet. She demonstrated this year’s China theme with glamorousness. Some of the stars on the red-carpet misinterpreted the “Through the looking glass” in an exaggerated way.

 

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Qipao Gallery[/typography]

[tribulant_slideshow gallery_id=”8″]

chuchu xu international student voice magazineChuchu Xu

ISV Country Ambassador: China at Kent State University

chuchu@internationalstudentvoice.org

What is a Country Ambassador?

ISV-COUNTRY-AMBASSADORS-LOGO-1024x520

Citation:
–        “Met Gala 2015: The Dresses That Were Doing the Most – CNN.com.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.
–        “Cheongsam.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.
–        Qipao, Chinese Traditional Dress, Madarin Dresses, Qipao Pictures, Chinese Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.
–        In the Mood for Cheongsam: New Women in Old Shanghai Glamour at MoCA.
–        N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2015.
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