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.