The qipao (or cheongsam) is one of the most symbolic garments of Chinese fashion. Although some earlier examples survive, the qipao denotes the glamorous style of “Old Shanghai” in the 1910s–30s. During the Republican era, it became a tool of resistance that allowed women to negotiate with institutional repression through their sartorial practices. And, throughout its history, it has indexed shifts in the balance of power between China and the United States, at times perhaps even mediating relations between the two countries. This reading list offers five perspectives on the qipao historically and aims to show why this style is still relevant to our contemporary sensibilities.
About The Author
Laura specializes in the history of art and fashion in the early modern Spanish World. She is a doctoral candidate at the College of William and Mary and received her MA in Fashion Studies from Parsons School of Design. Her dissertation explores the adoption and adaptation of European fashions, their fusion with local Indigenous elements of dress, and their representation in portraits and pictures of types in the Viceroyalty of New Granada in the second half of the eighteenth century.