Re-enacting the 1930s at the 2018 Qipao Festival

Hundreds of visitors gathered on October 1 for the 2018 Shanghai Qipao Culture and Art Festival at the Shanhai Film Park. 

Many people unfamiliar with Chinese culture may not have heard the word qipao before.  

However, if presented with these images, most will recognise this iconic garment which is closely associated with China.

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Li Zhang posing in front of a 1930s advertisement of Shanghai girls in qipao.

Qipao (cheongsam in Cantonese), played a big role in the struggle for gender equality in China.  After the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, various feminist movements started rebelling against Neo-Confucian gender segregation.  Symbols associated with oriental beauty, such as bound feet, long hair and two piece female garments were criticised.  More women were encouraged to cut their hair short and wear men’s one piece garments, known as changpao.  Women were not allowed this privilege during the Qing Dynasty.

By the 1930s, qipao in its many forms and variations was very popular in China among women of all ages and social status.  Some styles were loose and wide, others more form fitting. They also varied in length.    

The Shanghai Film Park is the ideal photography spot for those who want to re-enact this interesting period in history, as it boasts various sets replicating the old Shanghai. 

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Friends (from left to right): Fung Liu, Marleen van Wyk and Li Zhang.

Some women went through great lengths to attend the festival for this exact reason.  

‘I am here to take pictures’, said Zhu Ai Min, who traveled from Hangzhou to attend the festival.  

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Zhu Ai Min.

With a 1930s style train slowly approaching in the background, a group of ladies dressed in multi-coloured modern-styled qipao took  pictures on the tracks.  

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The Siping Street Fashion Club.

“We are the Siping Street Fashion Club.  We bought our clothes at our own expense,”said one of the members, Li Ping.  

According to her, the team regularly gathers together in scenic areas to photograph themselves wearing various fashion items.

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The Siping Street Fashion Club.

Mrs. Shao from Shanghai brought along four qipao for the day.  

While her husband photographed her in front of various replicas of French Concession mansions, she said: “Qipao is a symbol of Chinese culture.”

Mrs Shao.

Li Zhang, from Anhui province was wearing Qipao for the first time on this day.  She said: 

“Qipao is tailored to flatter the female body.”

Li Zhang

Fung Liu, from Hebei Province,  found this ticket booth to be humorous.

Fung Liu

Whilst posing for pictures, she said:  “Qipao makes you feel confident and beautiful, because you are beautiful.”    

I doubt many people would disagree with Fung!

Han Fenglian,Shen Yuying, Kong Jinghua, Marleen van Wyk, An Miao Xue,Jia Lijuan, Wang Yixuan, Hu Aixiang, Huang Yahan (PRC politician) and Ma Shuyuan (Order not confirmed).
Li Zhang and Fung Liu.
Fung Liu
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From left to right: Fung Liu, Marleen van Wyk, Mrs. Shao and Li Zhang.

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