A while ago I was asked about the construction of the Vietnamese Ao Dai and Chinese Cheongsam/Qipao. I had a few dresses at my disposal and figured it would be fun to do a compare and contrast. Due to the small collection, I was only able to photograph a few samples (all tailored circa 2000s, except one I’m sure…). This basically just covers the “classic” tailoring styles of Ao Dai and Cheongsam/Qipao. The latest trends may not adhere to it!
NOTE: For simplicity’s sake, I primarily used the word Cheongsam (Cantonese) instead of Qípáo (Mandarin) because its wider use as an English loanword.
Qipao (Cheongsam) is a female dress with distinctive Chinese features and enjoys a growing popularity in the international world of high fashion. It is said that Qipao is the earliest fashion for women in Shanghai.
Chinese Humiliation Parade, May 10, 1938. New York City. Photographer: Peter Stackpole for LIFE Magazine.
Twelve thousand Chinese Americans from all parts of New York City, Newark, Jersey City, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Washington D.C. closed their laundries and other businesses to take part in one of the largest demonstrations staged in the USA, observation China’s ‘National Humiliation Day,’ on which to pause and recall Japan’s humiliating Twenty-One Demands on China of May 9, 1915. They marched from Mott Street in Chinatown through lower Manhattan.
A group of a hundred smiling young Chinese women in cheongsam carried a 45 x 75-feet Nationalist Chinese flag. It was reported that although no appeal was made for funds, spectators threw coins and even dollar bills onto the flag, and this appears to have been the prototype for future fundraising parades in Chinese American communities.