The wow of qipao

Updated: 2012-12-30 07:41

By Li Xinzhu(China Daily)

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 The wow of qipao

NeTiger 2013 blends the style of Western haute couture and the qipao. Provided to China Daily

Shanghai's iconic garment is the focus of a new exhibition and its organizers are not looking just at the qipao's past but also its future, reports Li Xinzhu in Shanghai.

A series of promotional activities celebrating qipao culture got off to a bright start at the Shanghai Municipal Archives on the Bund, and a related exhibition is being held at the venue until the end of December.

The exhibition, jointly organized by the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration and Shanghai Municipal Archives, shows off the evolution of the qipao during the past century, with more than 100 photos and accompanying texts.

It is one of the featured activities promoted by the municipal government for the winter travel season.

Shanghai is the birthplace of the modern-style qipao and in the 1930s Shanghai designers combined the elements of traditional qipao with Western-style clothing, presenting a new look.

As opposed to the traditional qipao that has a flat appearance, the Shanghai-style qipao followed a woman's curves, especially around the shoulders, chest and waist - which is flattering on the right figure.

While the Shanghai Municipal Archives exhibition gives visitors a glimpse of the qipao's past, other promotional activities focus on the contemporary qipao, by recommending 40 qipao stores around the city.

The most popular area to buy the dress is the 200-meter-long "Qipao Street" on Changle Road in Jing'an district, between Northern Shaanxi Road and Southern Maoming Road.

Here there are many hand-tailored qipao, while further to the east of Changle Road and south of Maoming Road, to the right at the next corner is "Haute Couture Street" where qipao have more international elements and fetch higher prices.

Dongjiadu Textile Market is another source for tailor-made qipao, though the handiwork is not as good and this is reflected in the cheaper prices and fewer style options.

Additionally, the Culture Center of Qipao in Xuhui district aims to attract the young and affluent by presenting its range of the iconic dress in a series of cultural events.

Decorated with traditional Chinese-style furniture, the center has prepared a series of performances, arts training and cultural exchange activities to promote the culture of qipao.

"Shanghai is the origin of the modern qipao," says the center's director Wang Weiyu. "However, due to changing times, the qipao is no longer worn daily, which is a great loss in terms of traditional womenswear."

Wang wants to promote qipao with modern elements, so that it will suit the office lady crowd.

The center has arranged various cultural activities that take place after the exhibition, such as flower arranging, tea performances, a book club and lectures on traditional culture - and the only requirement for joining is that members should wear a qipao for the sessions.

In recent years, qipao culture has also been promoted at universities in Shanghai, so that youths look more favorably on the style.

More than 200 university students are expected to wear qipao in 2013 on Huaihai Road as part of a show for the Shanghai Tourism Festival.

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The wow of qipao

The wow of qipao

(China Daily 12/30/2012 page13)