The cheongsam, known in China as qipao, is a body-hugging one-piece dress for women. It features strong national flavor and embodies beauty of traditional Chinese costume.
The cheongsam, enjoyed initial popularity in the 1920s, was first designed by Shanghai People, combining the style of Manchu women’s traditional gowns with the style of clothing in southern China and of European evening dresses.
The fitted-dress is typified by a high collar, long length (mid-calf usually) and button or frog closures near the shoulder. It is buttoned on the right side, with a loose chest, a fitting waist, and slits up from the sides. The sleeves may either be short, medium or full length, depending on season and taste. And the cheongsam is often made up in shimmering silk, embroidered satin or other sensual fabrics. Worn with matching permed hair, high-heeled shoes, the cheongsam fully displays a woman’s graceful curves, elegant carriage and dignified manner.
In the first half of the 20th century, the cheongsam, with western-style overcoat and waistcoat to match, became the fashion for Chinese female movie stars, and numerous fans across the country followed suit. In the film 《In the Mood for Love》 directed by Wang Kar-wei, the heroine wears 26 cheongsams. These cheongsams, of graceful colors and designs, refined and elegant, have provided a chance for world audiences to appreciate the charm of Chinese women in cheongsam.
Cheongsam not only represents Chinese female costume but also becomes a symbol of the oriental traditional costume. That’ s why you often see it appears in the international occasions, for example, worn by the film actresses. Many waitresses in Chinese restaurants over the world wear cheongsam uniforms.
The beauty of the cheongsam is implicit and delicate, vibrant yet reserved, dignified yet natural. It takes full consideration of the characteristics of Chinese women’s figures. The cheongsam has changed people’s ideas about Chinese clothes being conservative and has been gaining great acclaim all over the world.