Cheongsam, a loaned word derived from a Chinese term literally meaning ‘long dress’, refers exclusively to a traditional Chinese female dress form that first came into vogue in Shanghai in the 1920s and saw its golden age in Hong Kong in the 1950s-1960s. Noted for its elegant body-hugging silhouette, exquisite Shanghainese tailoring, unique East-West appeal, amazing versatility and distinct national identity, this dress form was embraced by all local urban Chinese women in its heyday. Although the cheongsam ceased to be a mainstream outfit in Hong Kong after the 1970s, it continued to receive support from the local elite and on special occasions. The apparent revival of the cheongsam in the last two decades has seen this dress form in a new context and subjected to greater freedom of expression. However, reintroducing it back to our daily wardrobe has met many difficulties. Let’s see if the cheongsam images of the 1960s can throw some light
* Jointly presented with Cheongsam Connect.
Dr. Brenda Li holds a BA degree in Chinese literature and history from the University of Hong Kong and DPhil and MPhil degrees in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies from the University of Oxford. She is a multi-disciplinary scholar: Translator and writer in Chinese art and culture, project-based Researcher and Editor of the Hong Kong Museum of History and Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Instructor of Tibetan language and the ground breaking Certificate Course in Cheongsam Design and Production at HKUSPACE, and author of two books on Tibetan history and culture. She was Researcher of the exhibition “A Century of Fashion: Hong Kong Cheongsam Story” organised by the Hong Kong Museum of History in 2013. Dr. Li is an advocate of local cheongsam culture and she makes her own cheongsams.