In Chinese films and TV series, we can often see women wearing “旗袍”(qí páo, cheongsam, a Chinese style dress)”. It always impresses viewers seeing female leading role in a “旗袍 (qí páo)”.
“旗袍 (qí páo)” is one type of Chinese traditional costume. It first appeared about a century ago, developed from the changes of women’s costumes in Qing Dynasty. The royal nobility in Qing Dynasty was also known as “bannerman (旗人-qí rén)”. In Chinese language, “袍 (páo)” means long clothes. As it was the female “(旗人-qí rén)” who wore this kind of long clothes (长袍-cháng páo), the name “旗袍 (qí páo)” was born.
During the Republic period, “旗袍 (qí páo)” became popular. At the same time, feminist movement came onto the stage in the world, and in China. Women hoped to have equal rights and social position as men did. “旗袍 (qí páo)”, was seen as a female costume with great individual characteristics, and began to appear in Shanghai, still considered the most fashionable city in China, and then spread throughout other big cities. Gradually, “旗袍 (qí páo)” became the major formal wear for Chinese women.
The “旗袍 (qí páo)” at that time was quite different from the modern variety. The earliest “旗袍 (qí páo)” was very long with a high collar and sleeves. Later, all of these parts have been simplified. Now it is more comfortable and charming to wear the modern “旗袍 (qí páo)”.
The Chinese traditional costume is relatively loose and conservative, while “旗袍 (qí páo)” highlights the beauty of the feminine shape, but still keeps the features of Chinese traditional costume – patterns, buttons, edging and collar, all of which adhere to the traditional design style of China.
The beauty of “旗袍 (qí páo)” is combining traditional and modern features. Until now, it is an important formal dress-code in China. Not only Chinese females, but those from other countries are fond of “旗袍 (qí páo)”. Many famous Hollywood female stars love wearing the gorgeous “旗袍 (qí páo)” for red carpet shows. In China, some brides will prepare two dresses for the wedding, a western white wedding dress and a Chinese “旗袍 (qí páo)”.