Hong Kong 1960 : inventing a gendered modernity through the Qipao
Date of Issue2017
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
The Qipao (旗袍or ‘long dress’ in Cantonese) is a marker of the Oriental identity in which the alluring beauty of the garment accentuates the sexuality of Chinese women. The timeless and alluring cultural garment has evolved over the centuries; from an amorphous long robe donned by royalty during the Qing dynasty, to the fashion icon it is today. With specific reference to 1960 Hong Kong women, this essay explores a background of the ambivalent political and social landscape in post-war Hong Kong – before outlining the issues women face in the onset of Western modernisation while living in a traditional Asian society with strict codes of conduct. With two detailed case studies on Wong Kar Wai’s acclaimed film ‘In the Mood for Love’ and Richard Quine’s ‘The World of Suzie Wong’, women’s insecurities and uncertainty in relation to their social statuses, this essay will further illustrate how the Qipao can be seen as an imagined site for women to carve an identity for themselves in society- regardless of their societal status. By proving that the Qipao can be used beyond the comforts of cultural spatiality, this essay will highlight how the Qipao is ultimately an empowering garment, embodying a new modernity which women create for themselves as they navigate the external landscape of respective societies.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University