Eileen Cheung, a talented woman, and her ties with Qipao

Eileen Chang, born in 1940s, aroused so many disputes on her life and talents. However, Eileen Chang was a lady who can really understand Qipao. She had good knowledge of the development process of Qipao in recent and modern Chinese history and the color collocation of Qipao, as well as the inner goodness of Qipao. When she was in vogue in the literary field, her garment aroused popular attention in the society as well.

Eileen Cheung was said to love wearing weird dress and showing around. She loved wearing dress of late Qing dynasty, which may be stored at the very bottom of wardrobes by common people, and classical western hair style, fearlessly showing around. There are several anecdotes known by us all:

To publish her book, the Legend, she went to the printing house to revise the draft sample and all staff of the printing house would stop their work and look at her dress in surprise. She went to visit her friend, Suzie, and the whole alley would be astounded. She may be followed by a crowd of children, who were chasing after her and screaming. When she attended the wedding of her friend, she went to send her congratulations in an embroidered jacket trouser of Qing style designed by her. Then the attentions of all participants were focused on her.

She recomposed Love in a Fallen City, a novel, into the drama and turned to Kling for help in performance. Kling invited Jian-Yun Zhou, the renowned troupe host, one of the three giants in Zhanqian Stars Company and loving making friends widely, to meet with Eileen. The sociable Zhou felt restrained as soon as seeing Eileen with awesome makeup. So what’s the dress of Eileen Cheung like? As introduced by Kling, she wore a suite of ancient knee-lined jacket, with super wide sleeves and brightly pinky silk and wide black satin selvages. There was a stretch of cloud, maybe Ruyi, on the right front. The long gown with short sleeves covered the Qipao. The writer’s picture attached in Rumors was in this style.

Eileen Cheung carried out her acclamation through making dress. When studying in Hongkong, she got several scholarships in a row and saved some to buy linings to design dress by her own. This dress, her little brother once saw, was a suite of cloth Qipao with short collar and brightly red base. The dress was printed with several blue and white blossoms, with no cottons on both edges and a knot below the collar. The sleeve only stretched to the shoulder and the total length of the body only reached knees. When Zhang Zijing asked her if it’s the latest style in Hongkong, Eileen showed a smile and said, “I’m afraid it’s not very special.”

One time, she went back from Hong Kong with a length of Cantonese homespun. The cloth with harsh pinky rose was printed with pinky flowers. In the pattern, the verdant leaves were printed on the dark blue or green grassland. The dress in this pattern was usually worn by countryside babies. She made it her Qipao in Shanghai and felt very good. She said that it seemed to wear the famous paintings of museum to show around and the wearer felt walking on air. She did not care others’ sense in looking at such style.

In Shanghai, she designed lots of kinds of dress styles by her own. Yanying, one of her friends, painted as well as her and was percipient in design. Both of them may design a style and invited a tailor to make the dress. Eileen’s great grandmother left a quilt cover with a poetic pattern, where cream-colored thin silk was dotted with inks and hiding the dull purple phoenix. Yanying designed a one-piece skirt by the quilt cover and the purple phoenix was put on the lower hem and both wide sleeves, displaying extreme uniqueness. Eileen worn such skirt in a garden party in 1943 and took photos together with Shirley Yamaguchi, a famous Japanese movie star. The photo is now still reserved in Photos Records.

At the old age, Eileen Cheung even though lost her surprising interest in the dress, in some occasions, she still, paid attention to her wearing. Rong-Hua Yang, the wife of Zhuang Xinzheng, once said, “Eileen Cheung is high and attached great importance on her appearance. She always wears neat hairs and becomes more outstanding by wearing Qipao with the pattern where the light base is sprinkled with bamboo leaf.” Yu Lihua, a renowned Chinese woman writer, said, “It’s not a casual collocation to wear the western dark grey woolliness straight under-dress with a red scarf tied on the long neck. It’s an artful coordination between the color of the dress and the slimness of neck. The hair is in microwave style, reaching to the shoulder and coiled up casually by dark hair clips seemingly to prop up the long and round face. I do think she is not beautiful but unique.

In people’s eyes, even at an old age, Eileen Cheung kept her unique style and taste in the dress and could never be too proper to be called Qipao Beauty.

Biography of Eileen Cheung:

Eileen Cheung, born in Sep. 3th, 1920 and died in Sep. 8th, 1995, originally was named Zhangying. With native home in Fengrun, Hebei province, she was yet born in Shanghai. She grew up in Beijing and Tianjin and moved back to Shanghai in 1929. After graduating from the middle school, she moved to study in Hong Kong. In 1942 when Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese intruders, she moved back to Shanghai again without graduation. She once wrote dramatic criticism and comments on films for the English version of The Times, as well as articles on Chinese life and dress for the 21st Century, an English magazine held by Germanys. In 1942, solicited by My Life, one column of West Wind, a magazine, she wrote a prose, named My Dream to be an Genius, and won the honorary award. In 1943, her first fiction work, Crumbs of Tambac (the first and second furnace incense), was published by Zhou Shoujuan in Violet, a magazine. After that, she successively published Love in a Fallen City, the Golden Cangue and other master works. The following three or four years constituted the harvest of her creation and her works were mostly published in the Heaven and Earth, Panorama and other magazines.

At the age of 23, she got married with Hu Lancheng and divorced after the anti-Japanese war. After the liberation of Shanghai in 1949, she began to publish novels in Yibao of Shanghai with the pen name of Liangjing. In 1950, she took part in the first Literary Convention of Shanghai and moved to live in Hong Kong and worked in the United States Information Service in 1952. She once published novels as Love on Naked Earth and Yangko Dance. In 1955, she resided in America and got married with Reyher, an American writer. And then she engaged herself in translation and novels research in the Chinese Research Center of the University of California. She lived in America as a hermit. In Sep. 8th, 1995, she died of old age in her own apartment in Los Angeles, US.

Her creation was mostly based on the upper class of Shanghai and Hong Kong, not ranging widely in social contents but expanding the subject area for modern literature. All her works both base themselves on Chinese classical novels and highlight the application of the psychological description means of western modernists, two of which are combined together to form the characteristic personal style.

Main works of Eileen Cheung include Legend, the novels collection, and Rumors, the proses collection. Besides, there are Little Ai, the medium-length novel, and full-length novels, including Eighteen Years, Yangko Dance, Love on Naked Earth, and Old Maiden, as well as Nightmare in the Red Chamber, the commentaries.

What figures are most suitable for dressing Qipao?

What figures are most suitable for dressing Qipao?

qipao lady with oriental looking
qipao lady with oriental looking

1. The one with slide shoulder. The wearer with upright shoulder and wide back will look sturdy and stalwart, lacking in grace.

best figures qipao lady with slide shoulder
best figures qipao lady with slide shoulder

2. The one with fine waist. The wearer with thick waist will not be pleasantly looking.

best figure qipao lady with fine waist
best figure qipao lady with fine waist

3. The one with plump hip.

best figure qipao lady with plump hip
best figure qipao lady with plump hip

4. The one with long neck. The high collar will highlight the long neck, demonstrating a kind of grace.

best figures qipao lady with long neck
best figures qipao lady with long neck

5. The one whose breast shall be in right size.

best figures qipao lady with fine breast
best figures qipao lady with fine breast

6. The one with proper height, ranging from 160cm to 170cm. Too high or too short will disturb the charm of Qipao.

qipao lady fine figures
qipao lady fine figures

Overview of Qipao

Overview of Qipao

Qipao originated from Shanghai, China.

Qipao, reputed as the representative of Chinese dress culture, is a classical folk costume emphasizing the harmony and unification of inferiority and dexterity. With its flowing rhyme, stylish artistic inspiration and strong flavor of poetic, Qipao has displayed the elegant and tender disposition of Chinese women.

Qipao follows the trend of era, carries civilization, displays cultivation and reflects goodness, evolving to be like the gorgeous rainbow in sky. May Qipao connect the past with the future and connect life with art, sowing hopes for beauty and charms around the world.

Qipao is the mostly representative traditional costume of Chinese women. When it comes to the tradition, it reminds us of conservation of feudalism and taboos imposed by feudalism on women. Over thousands of years, the dress of Chinese women is solemn. Up to now, solemn and formal career women’s wear dominates the women’s dress of China.

Wearing phoenix coronet and robes of rank and being a motherly model of the nation. Should the Chinese feudal tradition of thousands of years put the highest expectation for women on this point, the word that can exactly explain everything is “display”. However, the only medium to display the well-shaped figure is dress.

No matter wearing the rainbow-colored and feathered costumes or the phoenix coronet and robes of rank, women will not stay away from hopes for beauty, elegance and romance, except the pursuit of resplendence and dignity. Maybe Qipao appears for this reason.

Human civilization has developed for five thousands of years and the women’s dress constantly advances with history development. Compared with the significant change of the world brought by science, the human body has kept the original state obstinately. This is not a miracle but provides possibility for dress development.

Dress cannot exist lonely without human body, neither does Qipao. Woman’s head, neck, shoulder, arm, chest, hip, leg and hands and feet form the perfect entirety with amounts of curves tactfully combined together. Qipao may be appreciated from this aspect.

Source of Qipao

Jujube(棗) Qipao, as one of Qipao families, could originate from the ancient Chinese robe, which was popular during the Spring and Autumn period.

Robes of banner men are quite different from Qipao or Jujube Qipao. There is a process of evolvement between them.
It seems that Qipao is the robe of banner men or women, but it’s not the correct explanation of Qipao.
At the beginning of the Republic of China, Qipao quietly transited itself.

Chinese regime experienced ups and downs at the beginning of 1900s, when the revolution of 1911 overthrew monarch and the Republic of China was established. Wearing pigtail and costumes tradition of Qing dynasty were abolished. The dressing etiquette of the Feudal dynasty was abrogated and only recorded in the history museum. All of these laid the foundation for the birth of modern Qipao.

During 1900s, mandarin sleeve and fresh style turned up.

mandarin jacket & gown
mandarin jacket & gown

During 1910s and at earlier phase of 1900s, the modern cultivated dress was popular among city ladies.

close-fitting & sleeveless qipao at that time
close-fitting & sleeveless qipao at that time

1930s was the golden age.

From 1920s to 1940s, the modern female dress witnessed its most brilliant period and reached its climax during 1930s. During this period, Qipao established itself as the irreplaceable role among women’s dresses, becoming the classical representative of ladies’ dress of China.

sexy & modern qipao in Shanghai
sexy & modern qipao in Shanghai

1940s was another golden age.

During 1930s, Qipao has become the classic of ladies’ dress; while in 1940s, Qipao achieved further development.

During 1950s, Qipao experienced an instant of resplendence.

In the People’s Republic of China, where the people are the master of the country, the common people played the leading role of the popularity of dress.

1960s and 1970s constituted twenty years when Qipao was desolated.

During the Cultural Revolution period from 1966 to 1976, the traditional culture, as well as Qipao, experienced its catastrophe.

During 1980s and 1990s, the resplendence of Qipao cannot return again.

The golden age of Qipao has gone far away and Qipao, having been desolated for thirty years, seemed to be dropped behind in China where reform and opening-up prevailed since 1980s.

Appreciation of Qipao

In recent dozen years, Qipao found its role in fashion again. Making stage poses usually on the international dress stage, Qipao exceeded its past in charm and grace and was worn in international social occasions as the formal representative folk costume.

Beijig Qipao and Shanghai Qipao

Beijig Qipao and Shanghai Qipao represent two styles in art and culture. Shanghai Qipao is featured with absorbing western arts with modern and flexible style and profound commercial element. While Beijng Qipao represents the traditional style, being reserved and concise.

Artists and Qipao

Art is a kind of social ideology reflecting social lives and thoughts and feelings of writers vividly through shaping images.

Designers and Qipao

Experienced the evolvement during the first half of 1900s, Qipao has had its basic characters and components stabilized and become a kind of classical dress for women. The classic is constant while fashion is ever-changing. As fashion designers found inspirations from classics, Qipao was thus one of sources of designers’ inspirations.

In a word, Qipao is the folk costume of Chinese women, not the lost history dress. Qipao has its vicissitudinous past, as well as the entirely fresh today. Carrying certain history meaning and highly enjoyable, Qipao has extremely high value in collection. Though fewer ladies now wear Qipao, the modern Qipao remain much traditional charm and could as well reflect the beauty of fashion, thus owning certain reserve value.

Read more:

Ways to choose lining of Qipao

Sorting, laundering and storing of Qipao

Five suggestions for wearing Qipao

Who will be more beautiful in Qipao?

Beauty of Chinese Qipao: keeping pace with the times

The charming Chinese Qipao is favored notonly by Chinese women, but Japanese ladies. As early as in 1941, there was ajournal of photography, named North China particularly introducing the northernarea of China, and in this journal there was description on the dress ofChinese women:

“In Beijing, it’s usually seen the modern Chinese women wearing high-heeled leathersandals and walking on the street elegantly. Their charming and slim figure matched with fitted Qipao, a kind of pretty Chinese one-piece dress, displayed the natural and unrestrained disposition. Shell fabric of Qipao adopts silk orgeorgette and the lower hem and the lining are embroidered with lace. Qipao with slightly short under closure displays fully the graceful line of the ladies’ legs. From the height of collar, configuration of lace, to the choice of color, Qipao impresses us the fresh style. The Chinese women’s dress leads the development trend of the times.”

In International Photos Communication published in October of 1952, there was the description that Chinese dress was quite popular among the Japanese women this summer. The Chinese women’s dress (refers to Qipao) used the minimal shell fabric and could display fully the beautiful line of ladies. In demonstrating the sex appeal of women, the Chinese women’s dress ranked No.1 in the world. Conversely, the Japanese women’s dress, using the maximal shell fabric in the world, wrapped fully the women’s body. There was a striking contrast between the two kinds of dress. The recent popularity of Chinese women’s dress among Japanese ladies,except the reason stated above, was also due to the homesickness of Japanese people for the mainland. The model wearing Chinese women’s dress in the photo was Shirley Yamaguchi.”

Shirley Yamaguchi loves wearing Chinese Qipao. (1947)
Shirley Yamaguchi loves wearing Chinese Qipao. (1947)

Maybe we are not familiar with Shirley Yamaguchi, but we know more of Li Xianglan, which is the stage name of Shirley Yamaguchi in China. Even though she was an Japanese, Li Xianglan became a famous singer and movie star in China in 1930s and 1940s. When Will You Return, Suzhou Nocturne and Cordate Telosma, the three songs sung by Li, are still popular now. After the Anti-Japanese War, Li returned to Japan and served once as the senator of House of Councilors of Japan and host in Television station. However, she remained affection on Chinese Qipao.

Shirley Yamaguchi wearing gorgeous Qipao (1948)
Shirley Yamaguchi wearing gorgeous Qipao (1948)

Photos about Qipao published here were mostly taken by Japanese people in China in 1930s and 1940s. These photos showed us the style of Qipao more than 70 years ago and made us know more of the evolvement of Qipao. It’s widely believed that Qipao is the representative dress of the Chinese Han people. Actually, Qipao was originally the national dress worn by Qiren women of Chinese Manchu and got its Chinese name from this.

The dresses worn by the two Manchu ladies were the traditional Qipao. (1938)
The dresses worn by the two Manchu ladies were the traditional Qipao. (1938)

At the beginning of 1900s, Qipao became to be favored by Han women. It’s those young school girls that made great contributions to the popularity of Qipao. The commodious Qipao worn by them was greatly envied and followed by women in each field. Public opinions appreciated highly the general mood. Thus, Qipao became the most fashionable women’s dress at that time. At the end of 1920s, influenced by western dress, Qipao experienced great changes. Qipao at that time got rid of affectation of Qing dynasty and tended to be simple and elegant in color, emphasizing the natural beauty of women’s figure. Qipao reached its golden age in 1930s when Qipao achieved great popularity and had constant fresh styles. Influenced by western short skirt, Qipao had its length shortenedand cuff relatively diminished, more fitting than before. Even the Qipao keeping original length has had slits on both sides increased. And the waistline was more uptight. The beautiful body curves of women were displayed fully.

School girls played a pioneering role in Han people wearing Qipao. (1937)
School girls played a pioneering role in Han people wearing Qipao. (1937)

 

Young ladies in front of dress stores on the street of Changchun (1938)
Young ladies in front of dress stores on the street of Changchun (1938)

 

Eight ladies wearing different styles of Qipao were in a garden of Xiamen. (1939)
Eight ladies wearing different styles of Qipao were in a garden of Xiamen. (1939)

The1940s witnessed the further development of Qipao. Qipao tended to be shorter in body length and collar height. The length of sleeves only stretched 2 or 3 inches under the shoulder. Sleeves even disappeared and the outline of Qipao would be like the streamline. Chinese Qipao were becoming more beautiful and charming. It’s Shanghai woman who made Qipao display different poises and become lovingly. Elegance of southern women, delicacy of metropolitan ladies, significance and intelligence behind the prosperity, as well as the beauty of Shanghai womenwere combined perfectly with exquisite Qipao. Li Lihua, a movie star from Shanghai, was quite popular in 1940s and 1950s in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Her photos of a famous star in those days and as well photos in casual dress many years later gave off a kind of attractive charm of Shanghai woman.

 

Li Lihua, wearing Qipao, was more charming. (1949)
Li Lihua, wearing Qipao, was more charming. (1949)
Li Lihua, aged 60, still kept her charm when wearing Qipao. (1959)
Li Lihua, aged 60, still kept her charm when wearing Qipao. (1959)

In 1950s, the government of the People’s Republic of China called that the dress of national people shall reflect the thriving and prosperity of socialism. Qipao at this time was added with the natural air in both character and pattern. Qipao at this time emphasized the natural beauty, generosity and practicality, not the morbid charm. 1960s and 1970s constituted twenty years when Qipao was desolated. During the period of the Cultural Revolution ranging from 1966 to 1976, the Chinese traditional culture, as well as Qipao, witnessed great catastrophe.In 1980s and 1990s, the uniform Qipao, carrying a meaning of professional symbolism, became popular in China. For the purpose of publicity and promotion, Miss Etiquette,ceremonial usherette and female attendants in entertainment places and hotels began to wear Qipao. When it comes to the 21st century, Qipao welcomed its real prosperity. The improvement combined with traditional and western styles and inspirations from the new era have made Qipao become more charming.

 

In youth, Song Ching-ling, the wife of Sun Yat-sen, loved wearing Qipao. (1931)
In youth, Song Ching-ling, the wife of Sun Yat-sen, loved wearing Qipao. (1931)

 

Women wearing Qipao rode bikes on streets of Beijing. (1939)
Women wearing Qipao rode bikes on streets of Beijing. (1939)

 

The modern lady walking in the Center Park of Beijing (1940)
The modern lady walking in the Center Park of Beijing (1940)

 

Fashionable school girls in Zhongnanhai (1940)
Fashionable school girls in Zhongnanhai (1940)

 

Young ladies wearing Qipao and walking on corridor (1940)
Young ladies wearing Qipao and walking on corridor (1940)

 

A smile, together with Qipao, would display the endless charm of Chinese women.(1941)
A smile, together with Qipao, would display the endless charm of Chinese women.(1941)

 

Two Qipao beauties in the Temple of Heaven park.
Two Qipao beauties in the Temple of Heaven park.

 

Female artists on the street love wearing Qipao. (1942)
Female artists on the street love wearing Qipao. (1942)

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How to be a most beautiful Chinese bride

Tactics for bride to choose their own Chinese style

Compulsory course for bride-to-be

As a bride-to-be, are you worrying about how to choose a suitable Qipao? Or are you not sure which hairstyle and makeup can match with Qipao? Or do you have trouble in choosing suitable wedding shoes, bags and accessories? Then you must carefully read this topic.

Wedding is such an great event in your life and beauty is supreme. So you can’t deal with them casually.

Chinese wedding dress:

1. Traditional and festive

Most girls deeply love traditional Qipao. Slim-fitting dress can accentuate your nice figures. Its knee-length is just perfect. Your exquisite figure can be set off.

Traditional Wedding Choengsam
Traditional and festive

2. Fashionable bride

Fashion is often shown in choice of fabrics and decorations, and variations of length and slit. Solid-color fabrics combining distinctive Chinese decorations or nifty skirt is a good choice.

Designer Chinese Wedding Dress
Fashionable bride

3. Chinese Kimono

Chinese Kimono is a kind of clothes. Chinese Kimono is also known as Dragon & Phoenix Dress which belongs to Chinese wedding gown. Comparing with Qipao, Chinese Kimono looks more solemn and gentle.

Chinese kimono wedding gown
Chinese Kimono

4. Chinese gown

Many brides has been hesitating about Whether choosing Western veil or Qipao. Fortunately, Chinese Gown integrates their advantages. It can let you be the most beautiful Chinese-style bride.

Chinese wedding gown
Chinese gown

Hairstyle and makeup:

hairstyle for chinese style wedding

1. Elegant and virtuous

Bright red bride Qipao is more suitable for a little bit elder bride, for red can make bride look more mature and generous. Matching with this hairstyle which equally highlights female’s elegance and generosity, will make bride strongly appealing. You can even unconsciously feel the bride’s glamour.

2. Beijing-style luxury

This type of Chinese Kimono Qipao can seamlessly combine with this hairstyle. Bride will look like a shy and pure white lotus in bud, eagerly and patiently waiting for her sweetheart to appreciate.

3. Fashionable and simple

The knee-length and close-fitting trim of modernized Qipao have been improved by designers through long time. The new meatball head hairstyle matches with it very well. A big flower bud is made on the back top of head; a clean forehead highlights female’s elegance and generosity. Big flower headwear is full of Chinese traditional festive atmosphere, vividly showing the oriental charm.

4. Competent-look bob

The overall hairstyle consists of slightly inwards-styling hair Shaft and heavy neat bang, making bride look exquisite and beautiful. This hairstyle’s feature lies in letting you look young and cute and it’s fit for young females. It’s important to note that bang can’t be long to reach your eyebrows and hair can’t be long to reach your ears. Fluent radian looks like pupil’s standard hairstyle.

5. Republican lady

To wear this type of Qipao, you must match it with hairstyle and makeup appropriately, otherwise it will easily look rustic. This type of Qipao hairstyle is full of Shanghai female’s charm. The red lip sends forth charm males find hard to resist.

Shoes and accessories

Some jewelry accessories are lively and fit for Western-style wedding, such as diamond. Some jewelry accessories feel warm and humid, thus more suitable for Chinese people’s disposition and image, such as pearl and jade. The same matching theory goes for shoes and bags.

Accessories for Chinese wedding
Accessories for Chinese wedding

Q & A

Q:  I want red Qipao! Will it be festive?

A: Bright red bride Qipao is suitable for a little bit elder bride, for red can highlight bride’s steadiness and generosity. Rosy Qipao is suitable for young bride, for she has good skin and complementing with rosy colour, she will look young and beautiful. Crimson Qipao is appropriate for steady and educated girls!

Q:  How can I choose a Qipao according to my figure?

A: Strictly speaking, thin and small brides are not fit for wearing Qipao. However, you can refer to the above traditional Qipao patterns which suit delicate and cute girls. X-type Qipao is perfect for plump bride, for it can hide the over plump hip. Active and lively bride can also wear X-type Qipao, for bride can stand, walk and sit more flexibly.

Q:  My neck is short. Will I look ugly in Qipao?

A: You have many options to choose Qipao. Elegant bride with long neck can wear high collar Qipao, while bride with short neck can wear collarless Qipao.

Q:  My skin is a little black. Which color of Qipao is suitable for me?

A: Bride Qipao is not limited to red only. Actually, new-style Qipao has an important element-seven bright colors which represent jubilation and is especially suitable for bride with black skin, making them more striking and glamorous.

Q: I’m short. Can I wear Qipao?

A: It’s generally thought that Qipao highlighting exquisite figure only belongs to tall women. Of course not! New-style Qipao has become shorter, such as knee-length Qipao. So even the shortest bride can still wear Qipao and equally send forth the classical charm. Bride with neat figure and nice leg type can better highlight their body advantages by wearing Qipao with slits on both sides.

Q: How can I choose Qipao fabrics? What kind of fabric is better?

A: As for fabrics, try not to consider artificial silk and pure polyester, for it’s easy to generate static electricity. If the wedding will happen in Spring, Summer or Autumn, thin and light fabrics such as real silk should be considered and the color shouldn’t be too thick. If the wedding will be held in Winter, you’d better choose tapestry satin which can set off the luxury of wedding.

The following are things you may need in your wedding

wedding candy,  invitation card, bridal jewelry, flower festive lantern, wedding stamp, wedding tissue, balloon candy box attendance book,  limousine decoration…