Monday, February 18, 2013

The Cheongsam: Elegant and Modern

I've been wanting to do a post about cheongsam dresses for awhile now, and have just now found the time!  So, here are some photos of the beautifully designed cheongsam (or qi-pao) in modern times.

The cheongsam, a common staple of dress for years, began to be distinctly altered in the 1920's.  It became something sleeker, tighter, and more elaborate.  The garment had its heyday in the 1930's.  Cheongsams were often featured Shanghai advertisements at the time, using the 'beautiful girls' images to sell cigarettes and other items.

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The dress, while still a common style in China and Shanghai, became a symbol to the Western world of something exotic and mysterious, and oftentimes was used to play to negative Asian stereotypes.  Anna May Wong was sometimes cast as the deadly 'Dragon Lady' type, wearing a form-fitting, slinky cheongsam.  Her dress here is a fine example of the beauty of 1930's design.

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The cheongsam recently saw a resurgence in popularity thanks to director Wong Kar-Wai, in films such as In the Mood for Love and 2046.  The cheongsams used here are elegant, sophisticated, and alluring allusions to an age of dignified dress.  Even more recently, the film The Flowers of War featured many lovely vintage-styled cheongsams, all uniquely elaborate.
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The cheongsam has a rich history of both design and functionality, and while not as commonly worn today, it still remains a modern, classic style.

12 comments:

  1. Great vintage loving minds must think alike because I have been in such an Asian mood this year when it comes to yesteryear fashion (I even created a Pinterest board last week devoted just to vintage Asian images and fashions). I don't own a cheongsam (their tailoring can be mighty tricky for my body type), but I'm determined to find the right one for me no matter how long the hunt takes.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this timely post, dear lady, thank you very much for sharing it.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Glad we're on the same page! :) I'm also obsessed with finding the perfect cheongsam--not too flashy, not too plain--and will let you know if i ever find it.
      Thanks for the comment, my dear!

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  3. Ohh I loved the costumes in In the Mood for Love, it's such a beautiful film too. I have wanted a Cheongsam for a while now and plan on buying a few in different colours when I go to Hong Kong!

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    1. Oh, that should be so exciting! Be sure to post what you find. :)

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  4. Lovely post! I have a great love for the Qipao and have been writing a series of post called 'Qipao Love' on my blog...there is also one on How-To find the right Qipao for yourself that you might find useful! The next post in the series will be the Qipao on the silver screen...which is how I found your blog! Have a fabulous mid-week lovely!
    May x
    www.walkinginmay.com

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    1. That sounds wonderful! Thank you so much. :)

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  5. Beautiful post, have you been to China or HK? Your knowledge of cheongsam dresses might put many native Chinese to shame :) Have you every try one on?

    I have some articles about the cheongsam beauty Anna May Wong, and the cheongsams in In the Mood for Love

    Drop by some time, I really expect to discuss with you.

    Cheers!

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    1. I'll be stopping by your blog for sure! I finally found a vintage cheongsam, for a good price, which will look lovely with a few minor repairs. I've never actually been to China or HK, but would love to one day!
      Thanks so much!

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  6. I lived in San Fransisco when I was 16. There was one in the window of a China Town store. It was white with white embroidered flowerd and birds. It went down to the toe and had a beautiful sheen. I was sure I was going to wear that as my wedding gown some day.

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  8. Aw I'm sorry to hear your Grandma wasn't as appreciative of your nails - I think these are amazing! very pretty

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