Fan Bing Bing on the Red Carpet

“Fan Bing Bing in Dragon Robe by Lawrence Hsu” Fan Bing Bing photographed at the premiere of “Robin Hood” during the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Accessed February 29, 2016.“robin-hood”-premiere-–-fan-bingbing


While traditionally the qipao served the purpose of being the state mandated Chinese dress in the early 20th century, the gown has made a comeback in recent years. Despite having exited the realm of high fashion in the 1950s, the qipao now returns re-legitimized, having a very obvious presence on the fashion runway. In his article, Contemporary Re-Emergence of the Qipao: Political Nationalism, Cultural Production, and Popular Consumption of the Traditional Chinese Dress” author Matthew Chew accredits such a re-emergence largely to the influence of cultural elites in China- most specifically, prominent fashion designers.

The image I chose to analyze this week serves as evidence to Chew’s claim, as it pictures well known actress Fan Bing Bing on the red carpet, dressed in qipao. Fan Bing Bing’s outfit combines both traditional and modern style, showing not only the ever-present cultural importance of the qipao, but also transforming the qipao to fit modern standards of fashion.

To further prove this transformation of the qipao, we must observe the entire image at first glance. My eyes immediately noticed the low neckline, something that is obvious and critical to a traditional qipao piece. Next, I noticed the bold yellow color of her gown, and the many symbols it represented- the Dragon, the peonies, and the water. The embroidery is extremely fine and detailed, and the material resembles that of a traditional qipao. She wears dangly earrings and no other jewelry with her hair pulled back simply and elegantly. Fan Bing Bing is featured on the red carpet surrounded by tons of photgraphers- not even Chinese, mostly western- that seem to have all their eyes on her.

The neckline to me really symbolized the modern twist Bing Bing is putting on the look- Bing Bing is drifting away from the traditional neckline and replacing it with something a bit more cutting edge and revealing. The bareness of her shoulders and neck serve the purpose of drawing even more attention to her gown. The yellow color immediately made me think of the Emperor’s traditional robe. Yellow, the color of royalty, was only to be worn by the emperor. By wearing this color, Fan Bing Bing is making a bold statement and showcasing her high status on the red carpet. The dragon, which traditionally symbolizes adaptability further evidences the qipao’s ability to adapt to modern times. The traditional looking embroidery and material to me showed that she respected the original look, yet still looked to update it to modern times. The background further evidences not only her importance, but the importance of the qipao in the global sphere as many western photographers are looking at the qipao, photographing and admiring the piece very graciously.

further address the idea of qipao tradition and modern celebrity  through the lens of global photographers

let the connotation follows immediately the denotation, in so doing, the organization may be clearer.