Qipao: Carrier of Various Cultures

2019 “Celebration: Global Qipao Invitational Exhibition” Part II

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.

As the most representative cultural clothing, Qipao contains profound cultural meaning and traditions inside. While the communication of world become more often, the traditional Chinese culture gets chance to converge with other cultures all over the world. Qipao, from designers’ perspectives, will not remain as the carrier of a single culture.

Under the theme of “celebration”, designers from the world, by combining cultural similarities and differences, challenged the limitation of Qipao, and successfully produced many excellent works throughout the ancient and modern times, connecting China and foreign countries.

I. Blend of Traditions

Best of both world (2019-07) by Paulina AndreevaChina National Silk Museum

Best of Both Worlds - Paulina Andreeva

The concept of this design is a fusion of traditional Chinese shape and Russian ornament. It symbolizes the integration of Russian and Chinese culture with the modern lifestyle, representing a young girl who is interested in traditions of her own country but stays in touch with the modern reality.

The main source of inspiration is Qipao. It was approached in an innovative way. The key elements of Qipao, such as stand collar and decorative fasteners...

... were mixed with the flared silhouette and pleats specific to the Russian traditional costume.

The red color symbolizes joy, love and celebration, which relates to the topic of the exhibition. The white color, used for the collar and piping, gives the dress a fresh look. This dress is for special occasions but can also be worn in everyday life supporting the idea that every day is special.

Aqua Fantasy (2019-08) by Seung-Eun OhChina National Silk Museum

Aqua Fantasy  Seung-Eun Oh

The concept is “Aurora”, and the subject is “Stars and auroras pouring into the night sky”. 

This design is in the form of a jump suit. It’s also a two-piece design. The overall color is Cerulean blue, with a yellow top covering the dress.

Nice and Simple by Yuebai x LabelhoodChina National Silk Museum

Nice and Simple  Yuebai x Labelhood

Short Qipao in lattice pattern with modified fashionable sleeves so they will fit better the shoulders and arms. 

Deep Green by Yuebai x LabelhoodChina National Silk Museum

Deep Green  Yuebai x Labelhood

Short Qipao in army green colory with modified fashionable sleeves so they will fit better the shoulders and arms.

Peking Opera (2019) by Sissy ChenChina National Silk Museum

Peking Opera - Sissy Chen

The theme that the designer has chosen is Beijing Opera, Chinese traditional culture. She is inspired by the movie “Farewell My Concubine” and deeply touched by lighting effects in it. Red can be seen everywhere in the movie, almost lightning the screen.

Decorative patterns are evolved and abstracted from the basic finger movements of female roles in Beijing Opera. They are expressions of Chinese traditional culture “shape of rhyme”.

Wool felting technique was selected to avoid rigid lines and create a kind of hazy feeling just like landscape painting to echo the lighting and hue in the movie. Decorative lockstitch on the embroidery also makes the motif more three dimensional.

Jasmine (2019-09) by Mary YuChina National Silk Museum

Jasmine  Mary Yu

A wish from Hong Kong that celebrates the 70th birthday of China. The inspiration is the first music playing at the ceremony of Hong Kong return in 1997,  "Jasmine Flower" (《好一朵美丽的茉莉花》).

II. Exchange of Techniques

Night at Seoul (2019-09) by Hye-In SongChina National Silk Museum

Night at Seoul  Hye-In Song

What inspires the artist is the night of Seoul. The night of Seoul is busier than any other city, and the night view of Seoul is more beautiful than any other city.

She focused on the bright lights at night and turned them into design motifs: the neon signs shining on the streets, the busy workers at night, and the “Namsan Tower”... 
Korean elements “Jokabo” (Korean traditional slabs) and knots are also included in the design.

Ensemble Embroidery (2019-08) by Ashdeen LilaowalaChina National Silk Museum

Ensemble Embroidery – Ashdeen Lilaowala

For the designer, it would be ideal to amalgamate the Chinese and Indian elements to create a Qipao-Sari dress. 

The designer created a Qipao silhouette in which the upper body is fully embroidered with tonal shades.

The below drape is with an Indian brocade silk. 

The sari panel draped over the shoulder is fully embroidered with exotic birds and flowers. Chrysanthemums, peonies, roses are intertwined with flying cranes and birds of paradise. The goal is to seamlessly blend two ancient embroidery traditions to create a modern, contemporary ensemble.

Embroidery Sights (2019-08) by Zhang YichaoChina National Silk Museum

Embroidery Sights  Zhang Yichao

Finding the own beauty in the drizzle and living with the peony. This Qipao is using gold color with blue and red lines stands for the connections of cultures and karma.

The Westlake patterns are hand-made embroidery, showing the pretty sights of Southern Yangtze. 

The golden color and the peony are traditional Chinese symbols for wishes, wishing our country will get better and better in the future.

The Channel Island Knitted Qipao (2019-09) by Beth Brown-Reinsel, Edith Cheung Sai May, Guo Jiang, Yan Yishu, Zhang Hong, Hu Yiu YuChina National Silk Museum

The Channel Island Knitted Qipao

The design of this Qipao is inspired by the Gansey knitting culture in the Channel Islands.

Mythical images of fishes from the brick and stone pictorial reliefs of Han Dynasty were chosen as patterns.

III. Interwoven Fabrics

Afghan Dress (2019-08) by Zarlashta JalalzaiChina National Silk Museum

Afghan Dress – Zarlashta Jalalzai

A piece of contemporary Afghan clothes. The bodice and the lower parts of the sleeves are all traditional embroidery which is still used in traditional weddings of Afghanistan.

The whole skirt is made from kerchiefs that are used during the traditional dance atan. Those kerchiefs are beautifully colored and resembles silk, mixed with some Western colors.

White Dress (2019-08) by Zarlashta JalalzaiChina National Silk Museum

White Dress – Zarlashta Jalalzai

The designing idea of the white dress came from the information that the designer obtained from China, the Chinese people, and ancient Chinese history.

Chinese people always use the most beautiful fabrics, such as silk. This made the designer think of a dress made of white silk with embroidery, azure stones and silver colored metal on it. The designer first purchased silk fabrics in Afghanistan, and then obtained other materials to complete the design.

Thai-Lamphun (2019-09) by Chombongkod PattanawitChina National Silk Museum

Thai-Lamphun – Chombongkod Pattanawit

This dress is combining the cultures of Thailand and China. The traditional Qipao structure with the material from Thailand Lamphun shows how charming both the cultures are.

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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