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Addressing the situation

By Yang Feiyue | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-30 05:48
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One typical Suzhou-styled qipao made by Jin Yi. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Fashion symbol

Qipao first emerged in the 1920s as a loose-fitting dress that was not commonly worn by women as it looked similar to the one-piece gowns that men wore.

It was around the 1930s that the dress started becoming a means of accentuating one's curves as Hongbang tailors from Ningbo, Zhejiang province, who were adept at sewing Chinese tunic dresses and Western-style suits, began pioneering a new style.

It didn't take long for the outfit to become a must-have item for fashion-savvy women in Shanghai, which was considered the fashion capital of the nation.

Shen Huiqin, director of the Shanghai Qipao Culture Promotion Association, says: "Although there are many cheongsam styles in China, the first thing that comes to mind when one mentions this dress is the scene of a woman in a qipao walking along the Bund."

But the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) saw this hotly sought-after dress disappear almost completely as it was deemed a bourgeoisie symbol, according to Shen.

It was only in the 1990s that it started making a comeback.

In 2007, Jin went on a quest of treasure-hunting at antique stores that were scattered across the country.

"I figured I could get some clues from the original qipao," he says.

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