The Cheongsam is also known as the Qipao. This is a dress which is known to have originated in the year 1920 in the legendary city of Shanghai. It started to become a great fashion statement which had been adopted by the school girls as well as the movie stars. This garment reflects the ascent of all the Chinese women during the 20th and the 21st century.
Things to know about Cheongsam
The story of this garment begins with the defeat of the Qing dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China in the year 1912. The Chinese intellectuals had started revolting against all the traditional values and they established their demand for an egalitarian and democratic society that was based on the Western standards. This included the education as well as the emancipation of women. Terrible activities like foot binding, which was carried out to prevent the growth of the girls, were outlawed.
The women started being educated in the year 1920 and they stopped wearing the ornate robes. They started to wear cheongsam, which was known to emerge from changpao, a men’s garment. Shanghai was a great port city that was flooded with foreigners almost all the time. This is one of the main reasons as to why this garment became a fashion statement at that time.
The Cheongsam of today
The cheongsam of today is quite different from the garment that the women used to wear in the 1920s. They had a loose cut and the sleeves were long and wide. This dress became the outfit of almost all the urban women of the metropolitan cities like Hong Kong, Beijing, Taiwan, and Shanghai. As the dress started evolving, the traditional silk was replaced with the contemporary and the cheaper textiles.
The design of the dresses also started changing. Though the traditional floral and the embroidery remained the same, art deco and geometric patterns started gaining a lot of popularity. The garment continued to evolve based on the sexuality and the femininity of the Chinese women. The dress started to become body-hugging along with daring designs with huge slits. It was customary to pair this dress with stilettos and high heels. Women started experimenting with various piping, collars, fastenings and short sleeves with fur cuffs. Sleeveless cheongsam also started becoming popular.
With the rise of the communist government, this dress started disappearing from the daily life of the women in the mainland of China. The streets of Shanghai were patrolled to make sure that the women did not wear any kind of fashionable clothing. The dress continues to remain popular in Hong Kong and it was also adopted as a daily wear. Women started wearing this dress with fashionable shoes and carried leather clutches as well.
With time, the demand for this dress started declining and women started wearing western dresses, suits, and blouses. The western dresses were considered to be cheaper than the cheongsam. The cheongsam continues to remain an important garment for the Chinese women.