Chinese Qipao for Formal Occasions

2019 “Celebration: Global Qipao Invitational Exhibition” Part I

Qipao, also called Cheongsam from Cantonese Chinese, was Republic of China's mandarin gown. The stylish and often tight-fitting, stand-collared Cheongsam or Qipao (Chipao) that is best known today was created in the 1920s in Shanghai and made fashionable by socialites and upper class women.

Qipao is one of the most representative dresses of Chinese women. Women are dressing in Qipao all over the world in modern society. Formal dress is the eternal theme of the celebration. People are wearing all kinds of dresses to show their most charming impression in celebration. These dresses may be the elegant eastern Qipao, or the gorgeous gown from the west. 

The exhibition “Celebration” has invited designers from over 10 countries to design over 40 Qipaos. When the beauty of the East meets the beauty of the West, the elegant Oriental Qipao, the flowery jumping flag dress and the elegant flag dress are derived.

I. Elegance of Qibao

Harmony (2019-07) by Helen PunChina National Silk Museum

Harmony – Helen Pun

Harmony seeks to weave the essence of Chinese and western cultures into this wedding gown. The red Qipao expresses the elegance and finesse of our tradition whereas the long train is stylistic of a western wedding dress. The red organza train, with ostrich feather trimmings, is seven meters long; filled with 70 layers of ruffles with Chinese embroidery in between; metaphoric of our 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC and the gradual rise to prosperity. It seeks to express our indomitable and unyielding spirit and the harmony we have built over the years. 

A pair of dragon and phoenix embroidery placed as corsage on the Qipao, is designed to pay homage to our oracle bone script and is symbolic of a harmonious marriage. The concept of using round and rectangular shape for the dragon and phoenix embroidery is drawn from the eight trigrams and the hemispherical dome cosmology model in Chinese astronomy – the physical embodiment of the spherical heaven and the flat earth. This speaks of the wisdom of finding the right balance and harmony in a relationship and in a world of changes.

Flowers Bloom, Sufferings Disappear (2019) by Minrisot LiuChina National Silk Museum

Flowers Bloom, Sufferings Disappear –Minrisot Liu

This Qipao was made when the designer accompanied her mother to overcome her pain. This is also a gift to celebrate her recovery from the disease. She used red thread to symbolize the care and connection between families. Locked stitch and Panjin stitch (traditional Chinese embroidery technique) are adopted around the pattern of vessels. Paper engraving, one kind of traditional art, has been applied to illustrate the pattern of flowers-like heart. She used silk, whose color is close to skin to embroider a medal for those who overcame their pain and help the patient confront the diseases.

The designer designed this garment to appeal everyone to face the sufferings and difficulties and even to the setbacks with positive minds. They should see hardships as flowers and embrace their lives with positive attitudes. Happiness comes after all the sufferings. As the old saying goes, all the bridges are solid and all the tunnels are bright. Just like this Qipao, when you are positive, your life will bloom with flowers too.

Olive Wish (2019-08) by Pinglan LiChina National Silk Museum

Olive Wish – Pinglan Li

This Qipao used Silk Textile, with the olive embroidery at the front, representing our country’s prosperity, and wishing peace for the whole world. 

Jade Book and Kylin (2019-07) by Yen-I WuChina National Silk Museum

Jade Book and Kylin – Yen-I Wu

This is a modified Qipao dress with the design of Kylin and Jade book embroidery. Red and blue are the basic colors of the dress. “Jade book and Kylin” is representing the happiness and fortune. In the local traditions, bride’s bedside will need to stick an amulet of Kylin, praying for kids. 

Daughter to Bride (2019-07) by Poling WuChina National Silk Museum

Daughter to Bride – Poling Wu

Using the shape of human as the origin, and expand a form other than it. The floating thread has created a dress that holds three elements of woman’s body, blood relationship and maturity.

The different kinds of red pass messages of the happiness, blood relationship with mother and daughter, and the growing process of a new young bride has just become mature. 

II. Formal Dress in Qipao Style

Many in One (2019-07) by Ophelia CrosslandChina National Silk Museum

Many in One – Ophelia Crossland

This is a dress include all different elements. With a short narrow skirt inside, and a red tunic outside, the whole dress presents an elegant temperament to be the main theme of the feast. 

There are some Swarovski crystals on the tunic, like the fireworks, or the roses. 

The collar uses the Qipao feature which blends in the Chinese gentle for the whole dress. 

Fashion Warrior (2019) by LaichanChina National Silk Museum

Fashion Warrior – Laichan

Fashion is another kind of war, and the dress will be women’s most outstanding armor. The designer used red as the main color to show how passion a beauty can be, in the meantime, he also used the gold cutting edge to present the elegance. 

This dress tightened the upper body, but released the lower body so women will have more space when they are moving.

I·N·K (2018) by Zhou MengChina National Silk Museum

I·N·K – Meng Zhou

This is a grown in the Qipao’s structure. It used different materials in the black colors to show the different “Ink” in an ink painting.

This dress is asymmetrical, with only one-side collar. One side of the dress remains the structure of Qipao and has a short sleeve like a Qipao; the other side changes to the fashion gown’s structure with a wide spread dress and a long sleeve. 

MAO series MAO series (2018) by Zhao WeiweiChina National Silk Museum

MAO – Zhao Weiwei

Inspired by the Chinese character “冇”, which means empty, this work tries to explore the change of fashion style by the invisible medium –“air”.

MAO series 2China National Silk Museum

The whole collection is presented in the form of plane cutting. Flat clothes become more three-dimensional and vivid by inflating, further interpret the relationship between “有” and “冇” in Chinese traditional culture.

Mermaid Recall (2019-07) by Yishu YanChina National Silk Museum

Mermaid Recall – Yan Yishu

Mermaid Recall is a design based on the Ph.D project. The concept is to make a New Chinese style Qipao gown for a mermaid. 

The Red stands for celebration and joy in Chinese culture, the special knitted fabric design is a stimulation of wave and the tail of mermaid. This dress is showing diverse parts with body movements, struggling in tighten and freedom, reconsidered the interaction between Qipao and wearer. 

III. Formal Outfit in Qipao Style

Night Dress by Natali RudenChina National Silk Museum

Night Dress – Natali Ruden

It is a classical Western dress with a Chinese Qipao collar. The designer has taken elements from Western and Eastern fashion and put in her design.

The basic color of the dress is the deep blue standing for the color of night sky, with many stars shining inside. 

The black lace collar is like the cloud floating around.

Celebrating Crane by Natali RudenChina National Silk Museum

Celebrating Crane – Natali Ruden

Red is a traditional celebration color in Chinese culture, and crane is an animal stands for happiness in China.

By putting those Chinese celebration elements in a Western formal dress, all people will know this is a dress for celebration. The designer wants this dress to cross the barrier of language or region, passing a happy message for everyone. 

Light Jade by Hung Hsiu ChuChina National Silk Museum

Light Jade – Hung Hsiu Chu

The dress contains many kinds of bright and dark colors, showing greens in noble and lively ways. There are lots of colors on the cover like a garden. 

Shining Night by Ryan LoChina National Silk Museum

Shining Night – Ryan Lo

Qipao is usually worn by adult women, which is not fit and fair for teenage girls. The designer thinks that they should also have a Qipao element dress for their age, so she designed this dress containing elements like lace, sequins and dress, which are very popular in teen girls groups.

Designers have used their talent and imagination to present diverse elements of “Celebration” on their design. From the Qipaos they created, we will meet a happy young bride, we can face a fashion office lady and beautiful wish for the birthday of China. This Exhibition will show the new possibility of fashion a traditional Qipao could have, and reconsider how traditional Qipao inherits in a new century. This exhibition is also an annotation to ICOM’s theme in 2019. 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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