Qipao is the New Fashion

2019 “Celebration: Global Qipao Invitational Exhibition” Part III

By China National Silk Museum

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.

Back to the 19th century, when Qipao first broke all the old regulation, it led a new fashion to the society. Even in modern time, Qipao is still not satisfied to remain in a typical shape. The fashion designers are using their inspirations to break through all the wall and structures, to reinterpret the potential possibility of fashion in a Qipao.

When the traditional Qipao meets with modernity, and when the new Qipao once again becomes a new fashion sweeping the world, the fashion industry will celebrate the legend derived from Qipao.

I. Song of Art

A Line of Dark and Bright by Hana HavelkovaChina National Silk Museum

A Line of Dark and Bright  Hana Havelkova

This dress has combined brightness and darkness harmoniously, just like Yin and Yang in Taichi.

The red line is a line that divide the two sides but in the meantime locked them together to create a space, in that space there are birds flying around, make the whole dress become more vivid. This is a special celebration the nature has everyday during the dusk. 

Qipao of Love (2019-08) by Angelo CrucianiChina National Silk Museum

Qipao of Love  Angelo Cruciani

This is meant to be the Qipao of sweetness and tenderness like a flag that calls out love as the most beautiful decoration. The heart is a symbol of unity and gathering, the heat is a universal message.

Angelo conceived this work listening to the great love songs of the Chinese pop stars. The theme of feelings characterizes almost all Chinese songs, love as the center of the world, central like the attention that every woman desires. A fabric talisman that makes every woman feels like Aphrodite: the goddess of love. 

Human &Human &Flower Monochrome&Color (2019) by Naci JingChina National Silk Museum

Human & Flower, Monochrome & Color – Naci Jing

There are still flames of war in some regions where cities have been destroyed. People in these regions are celebrating things that are trivial in our eyes. Our country also has sorrowful history. Prosperity and peace we have gained today have not come easy so we should cherish that.

The designer combined achromatic colors with chromatic colors to show that we should remember the past and treasure what we have today.

Seven Crosses (2019) by Joy YuChina National Silk Museum

Seven Crosses – Joy Yu

The original inspiration of this Qipao comes from the painting “Appearance of Crosses” by Yi Ding, a contemporary artist of abstraction in China. The designer extracted the color from the painting and added some fluorescent colors.

She combined two layers of fabric: PVC and adhesive cutting fabric, adopting colored thread embroidery technique to make new fabric. Meanwhile, the designer created her own embroidery and technique to inject a contemporary style into traditional Qipao.

Ink Like Qipao by Gong HangyuChina National Silk Museum

Ink Like Qipao  Gong Hangyu

This pattern links the mountain and water together by splashing ink. 

The shoulder sloping on one side represents the cliff and mountain slope. 

The long sleeve on the other side is like the ink being splashed. 

Designer has reengineered the structure of traditional Qipao by using the contouring to replace the normal embroiders. The flowing ink shown in some parts of the dress made the dress looks fascinating and inviting.

II. Change of Silhouette

Cloud Dress (2019-08) by Phoebe EnglishChina National Silk Museum

Cloud Dress  – Phoebe English

Working with sustainability in mind, the designer always aims to create as little waste as possible in the studio so they have incorporated off cuts of bamboo silk, trapped inside silk organza to reference the silk of a traditional Qipao. They have made it in white to represent the traditional colour of our own Western wedding culture.

Qipao Element by Samuel GuiyangChina National Silk Museum

Qipao Element - Samuel Guiyang

This is a modern work of creativity. This dress is using the shape of coat and the collar of Qipao to explore the potential elements fashion can have in a dress. The dress is smooth and clean in look, as well as an elegance of feeling inside the dress. 

Crystalize by Liu JunChina National Silk Museum

Crystalize - Liu Jun

This Qipao represents the continuous attention to the scientific concept. In the meantime, and at the same time starts to think about the contemporary and the traditional. It visually integrates the material language and the aesthetic concept of composition into the fashion design. 

It uses thousands of pieces of cut material to fold and redesign, and links the units of different sizes with complex connection technology to create a contrasting three-dimensional spatial form, giving the work a psychic and transparent visual art effect, making the clothing like a mineral knot in the sun.

III. Choice of Trend

Beauty of Orange by Priscilla ShunmugamChina National Silk Museum

Beauty of Orange  Priscilla Shunmugam

This is a fashion improving work of Qipao. Designer is looking through the perspective of fashion, and changing it to a modern dress but still keeps the classical elegance of the Qipao. Designer believed that shining women’s body shape is what Qipao good at, so she keeps this concept for almost all her design works. 

A New Thought of Qipao by Priscilla ShunmugamChina National Silk Museum

A New Thought of Qipao  Priscilla Shunmugam

The designer has made a unique interpretation to Qipao fashion. Qipao can be classical, but also can combine with fashion dress.


The designer kept the special curve design of qipao, at the same time, to emphasize the curve of buttocks, she deliberately added a small skirt with three gradations as the finishing touch. 

Pure White by Ms. MinChina National Silk Museum

Pure White – Ms. Min

Simple white dress in a Chinese tradition design. It is a fashion dress to present a young lady’s beauty and purity. 

Detailed Flowers by Ms. MinChina National Silk Museum

Detailed Flowers  Ms. Min

Another series of young lady’s fashion. This floral dress chooses black as the basic color to reflect a mature girl but also presenting the lively youth with the flowers on the dress. 

Moon on the Willow by Samuel GuiyangChina National Silk Museum

Moon on the Willow - Samuel Guiyang

It is a dress with tons of details in side, and also this dress is a result of exploring the possibility of different clothes kinds combining in one. The dress has elements of one-piece dress, Qipao and cloak. It seems like those elements are impossible to combine, but they end up combining perfectly. 

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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