Author Archives: ejiu

Qipao’s Significance in “In the Mood for Love”

In Wong Kar-Wai’s film, In the Mood for Love, Maggie Cheung is seen in more than 20 different Qipaos. Each Qipao that is worn in the movie is specifically crafted for each scene and is perfectly tailored to Maggie Cheung’s body. Although the Qipao is only a costume in the film, it actually is more than just a costume. The Qipao in Wong Kar-Wai’s film is used as a mode for time and mood for each scene in the film. In Giuliana Bruno’s article, Surface, Fabric, Weave: The fashioned World of Wong Kar-wai, Bruno argues that fashion is an art form in the sense that it’s considered a form of imaging similar to a painting or photograph. With this in mind, it is clear while watching the film that Wong Kar-Wai uses the QiPao as an “aesthetic form of Visual fabrication” that is in-sync with the history of visual culture.

Picture captured from late scene in the Film

Picture captured from late scene in the Film

In the film, Mr. Chow (Tony Chiu Wai Leung) and Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung) found out that their spouses are having an affair with each other. However, neither of those characters are shown during the movie keeping the focus on the two victims of this affair, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan. Furthermore, the majority of the film is focused around Mrs. Chan’s Qipao. Every time Mrs. Chan is seen, she is wearing a Qipao, which brings to light Mrs. Chan’s beauty, femininity, and sexuality. The color of the Qipao, like a mood ring, indicates what mood she is in, but also the mood of the scene. So, when Mrs. Chan is seen wearing a simple, or colorless Qipao, she is concealing herself and gives off a conservative attitude, which is in contrast with the Qipao’s historical and cultural connotation. But, when Mrs. Chan is in a more colorful Qipao, she steals the focus of the audience, furthermore drawing the attention of Mr. Chow. cite a visual evidence

The Qipaos that Mrs. Chan wears indicate a change in time. Because the film jumps around from moment to moment with no indication of time change, it is difficult for the audience to know the context of when these actions are taking place. But, thanks to the different Qipaos worn, it is clear to us that it is a new day or moment because Mrs. Chan is wearing a different QiPao. need a visual evidence

Maggie Cheung’s face throughout the film is also very simple, making sure not to show her emotion through her facial expressions, but rather have the audience interpret and understand her emotions and thoughts through her costume in that scene. After Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan end their affair, Mrs. Chan tells Mr. Chow to never look at her again. This is a great example of how the Qipao is used. As she tells him this, she is wearing a colorful Qipao, which was previously an indicator of her happiness, but also that she was trying to attract Mr. Chow. So, when she tells him to never look at her again, we can assume that the beauty and elegance of the Qipao is the reason Mr. Chow was so attracted and enamored with her.

Fashion put aside, the music of this film also played a significant role. In the film, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan role played as each other’s spouses in an attempt to figure out how their spouses’ affair began. In multiple scenes, the same music is played as Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow come in contact with each other. This music is an indicator of the heightening of their affair. Also since they are trying to figure out how their spouses’ affair started, the music can also indicate a moment their spouses shared in the beginning stages of their affair. focus on qipao as there is no enough room for music

a nice work, Ejazz 

Consumption of Color in China

Louisa Schein in The Consumption of Color and the Politics of White Skin in Post-Mao China, argues that the representation of white women overwhelms the contemporary Chinese world. She continues this argument by observing the denotations and connotations of the white woman’s body and facial features and attributes. Stein gives us 2 symbolic meanings of the western woman. The first being the physical meaning, the second being the ideological meaning. The physical meaning is the “emblem of radicalized difference which signifies not the blondness (or paleness) of western physical taxonomy”, but any color lighter than jet black or tan skin, which has unequivocal connotation of value. The ideological meaning is that the “White woman’s body has been written over by a multitude of other meanings including freedom, individualism, democracy, and progress. The white woman, or the western woman, that is featured in many Chinese advertisements denotes a soft, pale face, with a curvy body that not only insinuates sexuality, but also wealth and success. These connotations of the western woman developed a fetish for many Chinese women who also wanted to represent these ideas that, in their minds, couldn’t be achieved through Chinese fashion and culture.

nice thesis potential and extend it well

Lighter hair was also a cosmetic desire western women had that was sought out by Chinese women. Lighter hair in addition to lighter skin meant that you had more beauty value than if you had darker skin and hair.

Location, in other words, depending on where a Chinese woman is from, greatly effects whether or not Chinese women have access to the makeup that allows them to replicate the image of the western woman. Women who live further from cities and work outside a lot have darker, tanner skin as opposed to women who live close to or in cities that, due to less exposure to the sun, have paler, whiter skin tones. Therefore, the paler face connotes wealth in China because if you are wealthy you don’t have to work outside, if you have to work at all. This is an attractive aspect in China because it is the revival of femininity since Mao’s socialist China, where women were asked to be more masculine than feminine. However, although paler skin is the desirable look for Chinese women, it is mainly to attract and entice men.

use the ad as visual evidence to support the thesis statement, thereby tighten the organization

Estee Lauder make-up AdvertisementIn the photo to the left, there is a fair skinned, light-haired, young, western female posing for an ad advertising makeup. It’s clear that this woman is a model and has very attractive facial features that draw consumers to immediately stare at her beauty. Sometimes this stare can become a gaze of envy. Her bright blue eyes draw the consumer in like a black hole. Her skin is soft and if you look close enough, her skin is shining a little. Her skin in contrast with the white backdrop shows that she truly has a pale skin tone. Once the consumer has taken in all of this model’s beauty, the eyes immediately look for what product made this woman look this way. The make-up container that is juxtaposed to her face is the center of the photo, sharing an equal amount of focus with the actual model. The containers label says “CyberWhite, Brilliant Cells”. Because the container says “CyberWhite” on it, the ad is selling the luxury of having paler, whiter skin, as opposed to tan, darker skin.

nice description of the ad which can be divided into different sections according to different denotations/connotations

This ad is a perfect example of what Schein means when she says, “the passion for the Western Woman is a panacea, one that provides a focal point for Chinese longing and one that, in the process, effaces the subjectivity of Chinese women as women.” (Pg. 145) In this quote, Schein points out that the image of the Western woman is a solution for all difficulties faced by Chinese women to present themselves as “beautiful”. Furthermore, that this image of Western women makes the  Chinese woman appear insignificant in contrast to the Western woman’s beauty. This explains the fetish that not only Chinese women have to be like the Western woman, but also that Chinese men have to desire the depiction of the Western woman. This is the reason why many Chinese women sought to lighten their skin tone, hair, and sometimes even change their facial structure to replicate the image of “Beauty” in reference to the Western thought for female beauty.

It would be very interesting to explain how the ad creates western fetish for Chinese consumers


Fashion & No gender in Mao’s China

The Mao suit dominated fashion during the Cultural Revolution in China (1965-1968) not because it was a “fashionable” outfit, but rather because of its denotation of support for Mao and his ideals. Mao’s Cultural Revolution was motivated by a “power struggle” towards the top of the party system. However, although Mao established The Great Leap Forward, the movement was powered by the massive amount of students and young adults supporting Mao’s ideas. When the Cultural Revolution was still just a thought, a group of students openly denounced their school administration for repressing the students’ voice in a letter to Mao, later labeling themselves as “the Red Guards of Mao Zedong Thought”. This established the term “Red Guard” which is greatly affiliated with the Mao suit. Not long after, the Mao suit became the uniform and fashion that defined the Red Guards. The reason many of Mao’s supporters were young is because young people were intrigued by the freedom they were given by joining the Red Guard. Not only that, but also younger citizens were more likely to follow their friends and fellow classmates in fear of being left out of this trend. And with the Mao suit being the dress and uniform of the Red Guard, the Mao suit in fashion spread across China like wildfire.

Please introduce a central argument that addresses the relationship between the CR and the Mao suit

The Mao suit was a very simple dress that sported little to no decorations. Li Li in Uniformed Rebellion, Fabricated Identity: A study of Social History of Red Guards in Military Uniforms during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and Beyond, shows that clothing is a sign of social status, religion, political party, & gender. However, Li states that uniforms that are worn as a group create a group identity. So, taking into account Li’s connotation of a uniform,

The Red Guard’s uniform was more than just a green jacket, a soft cap with a red star, belt, and red arm sleeve. By simply wearing the uniform, it showed to those around that “the urban adolescents not only legitimize their collective action of social rebellion, but also mobilize themselves to be the political frontrunners with the support of Mao.” well composed and hope you could use it as thesis statement

From Keynote Tsui

From Keynote Tsui

In the photo above, a train full of young citizens is on its way to the country side as a part of Mao’s Cultural revolution. The viewer’s eye is immediately drawn to the two young adults with their smiling faces out the train windows holding their Mao red books with joy. Both young adults are wearing a Mao suit, however, the young adult on the bottom has white cuffs (possibly fur) and a fur collar on his or her Mao suit. Whereas the young adult above doesn’t have these features on their Mao suit. There seems to be a hair tie in the young adult’s on the bottom hair, which may indicate that this young adult is actually a girl.

what do those visual denotations reflect?

In contrast with Chinese fashion in previous years, the Mao suit was gender neutral. The Mao suit was worn by Women the same way it was worn by Men. This made it hard to differentiate boys from girls, but it shows the underlying idea of Mao that every citizen is equal and is merely just a part of a bigger social/working system. The fact that you can’t tell what gender either of them are for sure shows that the Mao suit was truly gender neutral. Further proving that Mao’s Cultural Revolution was in fact not about individuals, but rather about the larger population as a whole. The smiles on their faces in addition to the red books they are holding displays the blind support that young adults had in Mao Zedong as their leader. The color red is also very dominant in this photo but also in many other photos as well.

if gender is the focal point, please introduce it at the beginning of the paragraph via a topic sentence

The Qipao’s Comeback Story

The Chinese Qipao as the standard wear for chinese women in the early 17th century was a more conservative dress than the Qipao after it’s resurfacing in the early 1990’s. The original Qipao sported a wide, baggy, and loose fit which ended up covering most of the female body. It’s baggy feature cocealed the figure of the wearer regardless of size and age. The Qipao was worn by women for everyday occasions, however after 1644, the Qipao was no longer required to be worn by all. But, in the 300 years following, the Qipao was ultimately adopted and tailored to suit the entire population.

The modern Qipao was established in Shanghai in the early 1900’s. It’s fit was slim and tight with a higher leg cut then the original Qipao. Because of it’s slimmer fit, the modernized Qipao highlighted the figure of women. The modern Qipao was brought back to light mainly by politicians, entertainment figures, and fashion idols. the modern Qipao was a sign of high society. furthermore, because the modern Qipao accentuated the figure of the female body, it became a sign for sexuality and femininity, similar the the concealed Golden Lotus.

Qipao, 1930s, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The photo on the left displays a Qipao from the 1930s. This Qipao is fashioned like the original Qipao was. As you can see the sleeves are long and baggy. The dress itself is also long and baggy going down to just above the ankle. The high neck piece conceals the women’s neck. The old-fashioned Qipao was a lot less constricting then previous garbs, which is the reasoning behind the baggy look. The embroidery on the Qipao is also well illustrated. It’s detailed in flowers and other greenery all over the Qipao. This well detailed embroidery is what catches the eye first.

2015 Qipao Dress

The photo below displays a modern Qipao dress. This Qipao is form fitting, highlighting the woman’s physique. The neck piece is not as high as the original and reveals the woman’s upper neck. The Qipao’s length has been cut to show the lower half of the woman’s thigh. A slit was also added on the sides of the dress showing only a slight part of her upper thigh. The sleeves are cut short, showing most of the woman’s arm. Although the design on the modern Qipao is beautiful, it is not the main focus of the dress like the embroidery of the traditional Qipao was. Overall, the modern Qipao is centered around the woman’s slender physique, bringing forward her sexuality.

nice, but explain what are the social, cultural, historical, or gender connotations that the transition of qipao style suggests?

Foot Binding in China

In early Chinese culture, Foot Binding was a sign of beauty and elegance. Foot Binding (or Golden Lotus) is rumored to have been started by a Chinese Prince’s sexual interest in one of his concubines small feet. He was said to have watched her dance on a pedestal of golden lotus. This story is where Golden Lotus gets it’s beauty and elegance connotation. After many years of this practice being a part of Chinese culture, Golden Lotus became a sort of right of passage for young Chinese girls into becoming a woman. Women bound their feet because it had connotation of high class, luxury, and grace. Men were sexually driven by the bound foot’s concealment. However, although to Chinese culture foot binding was a beautiful practice, westerners saw it to be ugly and shameful. After being confronted about the ugliness of the practice, many Chinese families discontinued the practice. Westerners only saw the ugly denotation of foot binding, instead of looking at the beauty connotation of the practice.

start from here: The image below is of a group of Chinese women with bound feet. Although bound feet were a sign for social class, clothing was also a sign of social class. In the photo the woman sitting in the middle is wearing a very fancy dress that is probably made of high quality fabric. She also has a flower or head accessory on her head, which shows that she is of middle or high class. Comparing this woman to the woman to her right, you can see that the woman on  the right has a dress that is probably of less quality fabric and is wearing pants instead of full dresses like the other women. Many times women of this dress were workers, prostitutes, or low class women. The shoes all the women are wearing however are small slippers of nice designs and patterns. In many photo of women with bound feet, they are seen sitting down. This is so that their feet can be seen because that’s how important the Golden Lotus was. The women’s dresses also are long enough to hide the small slippers, which goes back to the bound foot’s concealment aspect.

Overall, Foot Binding was a practice misinterpreted by western views. However, within Chinese culture it had a beautiful connotation that was elegance, luxury, and grace for Chinese women. Foot binding was a fashion for Chinese women.

make an critical argument first, then organize the analysis with denotation-connotation structure: dress indicates social class, for instance.

Chinese Women Foot Binding, Photo, 1080 x 1134