Fascinating Chinese Cheongsam (Qipao)
Hazel Clark in her article “The Cheongsam” writes, “Worn by movie stars and schoolgirls, adopted as a symbol of Chinese identity and of international savvy, favored by conservative dowagers and fashion mavens, no other dress has been as versatile nor had such a complex, fascinating history as the cheongsam.”
The Cheongsam is a female dress with distinctive Chinese features and enjoys a growing popularity in the international world of high fashion. The name “Cheongsam,” means simply “long dress,” which entered the English vocabulary from the dialect of Southern China—Guangdong Province (Cantonese). In other parts of the China, such as Beijing, however, it is known as “Qipao”. The Chinese Cheongsam displays its elegance and longevity with a unique history, vivid design, and feminine style.
First, Chinese history reflects the Cheongsam development. “Cheongsam or Qipao” did not become as well known and popular as the present time until the Manchu people became the rulers of China after the 17th century. Manchu is one of the fifty-six nationalities in China. The Manchurians lived in North-Eastern China, and their lifestyle centered on hunting. For the reason of hunting, the Manchurians dressed in tighter clothes.
Qipao can display Chinese women’s modesty, softness and beauty, and it represents Chinese women’s spirit, living standards, and aspirations towards beauty. The Qing Dynasty built the Eight Banner system for military, political and production purposes to rule the all of China, including the Han, Mongolian, and Manchu people. The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) saw the use of buttons for a Qipao. In addition, the dress is buttoned on the right side, with a loose chest, a fitting waist, and slits up from the sides. In either case, the Cheongsam creates the impression of simple and quiet charm, elegance and neatness depending on the different occasions. The Cheongsam has two big slits at either side of the hem for convenient movement and display of the slender legs of women. ” All of which combine to set off the beauty of the female shape. Second, the special design on the material expresses women’s femininity. However, the Chinese Cheongsam (Qipao) provides designers with vast, creative space: some short, some long, with low, high or even no collars at all. Chinese Cheongsam (Qipao) has become most popular in China with its dramatic history, colorful design, and womanly style.