Skip to main content

Why do I love the Qi Pao?

Maggie Cheung (In the Mood for Love ~ set in Hong Kong 1962)
Is it the way a Qi Pao is cut, fashioned, embroidered or even worn that attracts me to it like love at first sight? I love the Qi Pao which is also known as Cheongsam or simply a Chinese dress.....but it is so much more than that! From the silky brocade, the rich thread tapestry of embroidery, the stiffly noble high collar, the sharply unforgiving cut to accentuate the female form and the seductively high slit; it makes the Qi Pao a beautiful piece of art that represent hundred of years in the evolution of Chinese culture. When I rise to the occasion of wearing one of these great beauties every Chinese New Year, I am reminded of what is beautiful in the history and culture as well as how Chinese roots has infused my life. Make no mistake, as the Qi Pao truly is an unforgiving garment that will display every imperfection I have with the greatest clarity and remind me that I lack the ideal proportion of beauty. But for all its beauty and all its cruelty, I love the Qi Pao and can not stop collecting them like highly prized art.
Fan Bing Bing (Last night of Madam Chin ~ set in Shanghai 1930s-1940s)
As Shanghai singing girls......
Drama: The Last Night of Madam Chin

The Qi Pao is certainly a timeless piece and a reminder of female liberation through the ages, but it is also one of the reasons that attracted me to the historically glamorous 1930s to 1940s Shanghai. The golden combination of fur, pearls, high heels, Marcel waved hair and Qi Pao is still my favourite look. I can easily understand how women spent whatever they could in order to get a new Qi Pao custom made by their favourite tailor or dressmaker, and just had to be seen in a new Qi Pao at different parties! As the make and style of the Qi Pao often told the stories of the women's lives; whether one was a Shanghai dancing girl or a Beijing high society maiden, all could be told from the Qi Pao. At the height of its popularity in the 1940s, Qi Pao loving ladies across China were jolted into a world of war and the Qi Pao became an icon for one of the most painful periods of history.
My plum blossom blue long QiPao with a faux fur coat and pearls.

How can I not love such a beautiful garment that represents so much, gives so much and has inspired designers like Issey Miyaki, Valentino and Pierre Cardin? It is art, it is history and it is is the Qi Pao! Finally, I leave you with a visual taster of what it was like to waltz the night away in a glamorous Qi Pao during 1929, and the sounds from one of the most famous stars of 1930s to 1940s Shanghai......Zhou Xuan:

Shanghai video link:

Zhou Xuan video link:

More recent movies and adaptations of the Golden Shanghai period as well as the Qi Pao:
Gong Li in 'Shanghai' (movie 2011).

Until the next time,
May xx
Note: Some of the photos are my own, but some of the photos have been borrowed from other websites or blogs. For more new and updated posts on Qi Pao, please click here => Label~QiPao


  1. Such a great post! It's always interesting to read about the history of the 1940s - 60s in different cultures. For instance, I love vintage, but when I wear it, I wonder what someone sees who went through all the cruelties non-whites were subjected to during that period. But the aesthetics of the clothing, the details, the composition make vintage clothing like the Qi Pao worth researching and reviving!



Post a Comment

~Thank you so so much! I love hearing from you and appreciate every beautiful comment. Please feel free to follow and walk with me too.....have a fabulously lovely day my darlings!
Until the next time,
♥ May xx

Popular posts from this blog

Qipao Love: Part 5 ~ How-To choose and wear a Qipao (Cheongsam) that will love your frame!

A little warning is probably in order my this will be a rather comprehensive How-To Qipao post! I will try to incorporate my own knowledge as well as what I researched through time, to create a rough but helpful guide for ladies who might want to attempt wearing the Qipao! Why do I say attempt? In today's fast paced life the Qipao has become a rather occasional dress even for a faithful admirer like me and I can understand why it might not be the most popular attire in the world, but I also know that many ladies who admire the Qipao might resist the idea of wearing it because of different barriers. Being a lover of the Qipao me I know the fearful qualms and muffin top resistance to wearing a Qipao all too well.....whether it is a matter of figure, budget, impression, style, occasion, look or finding the excuse to wear a Qipao, I hope to be able to offer some help towards a solution and ask that you forgive me if I am too long winded. The Qipao really i…

Qipao Love: Part 1~ From Qi Pao to evolution of a dress about women!

Welcome my lovely darlings to the new address as the blogspot to custom domain transition is now officially completed! Worry not, if you are still using the address it should automatically divert to the blog and there is also a new e-mail address if you should like to drop me a line to say hello or ask any questions;! What better way to celebrate this transition than to start on one of my favourite topics.....with Part One of my "Qipao Love (All about Qipao)" series of posts!

Throughout my blog over the two years, I have mentioned the Chinese Qipao dress (also known as Cheongsam in Cantonese) quite a few times, especially during the run-up to Chinese New Year. Having a self confessed love of the Qipao, as some of you darlings who have been following may know, I can usually be spotted wearing the Qipao throughout the 15 days of Chinese New Year festivities and have been adding one or two new Qipao dresses t…

How-To: Build a 1920s inspired Great Gatsby look!

With my birthday coming up in a little more than two weeks, and having decided on a vintage themed party, it is time to put my vintage thinking headband on! Last year I had fun dressing up as a 1940s inspired Pin Up girl, and this year I have decided to go a little further back in time.....yes my darlings....we will be roaring in a 1920s glitzy Great Gatsby affair!

The 1920s has been a favourite decade of mine for quite some time.....admittedly the decadence of the glittering heavily beaded long gowns, the extravagantly flirty ostrich feathers and the shiny Art Deco gem-stoned pieces might have something to do with it! It was true that the roaring 20s was a rebirth period for many because of the survival of WW1, so living every new day as free, happy and extravagant as possible became the ideal dream. With more women embracing liberation by replacing restrictive corsets with loose flowing dresses that revealed more flesh than ever before, a period embracing individuality, creativity, …