When people think of Chinese traditional wear, their minds often jump to the Cheongsam, also known as the Qipao. It originated in the Manchurian dynasty, evolving until it reached its peak of popularity during 1912 to 1949. The Cheongsam, a form-fitting women’s dress, features a Mandarin collar, hemmed slits, a fitted waist, and Chinese knots. Made from satin brocade, cotton, or silk, it is often embroidered and decorated.
The History: The original Manchurian form was more loose and covered more of the people. The garment began changing due to Western influences. The hemline rose, the cut became more tailored, and the collar grew smaller. The peak of the garment’s development was during the 1820s and 1830s, when it occupied a high place in women’s fashion. The modern version of the Cheongsam developed in the 1920s, when high-class courtesans and celebrities popularized the tight-fitting Cheongsam. It transformed from covering the female body to celebrating it.
Modern Wear: Today, the Cheongsam is worn to special events such as weddings and festivals. It is becoming more popular than in previous decades, since the Cheongsam fashion was curbed in 1949 with the Communist Revolution. It is also worn as a uniform in certain professions, such as flight attendants.