Katy Perry and Modern Orientalism

The style of qipao began during the Manchu rule and was originally a Manchu style. All qipaos have high collars that are tight fitting, there are slits that go up the leg which make it more convenient for women to move easily, qipaos are typically made with silk and satin, and have knot buttons that are used as clasps. In the 1930’s qipao signified a modern woman, and since then there has been a global re-emergence of the qipao. Many fashion designers began using the qipao as inspiration. Before long the qipao style became a major trend, and celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, and Katy Perry were seen in qipao style dresses. The image of Katy Perry in qipao is an example of modern Orientalism.

if this the thesis, then clarify the meaning of “modern orientalism”


“VMA 2011: Red Carpet Fashion.” Katy Perry Photographed on the Red Carpet at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. Accessed February 28, 2016. http://www.mtv.com/photos/vma-2011-red-carpet-fashion/1668988/6501727/photo/.

At first glance Katy Perry is dressed in a bright outfit, she is wearing a tight dress with somewhat revealing cutouts, and an umbrella to match the dress. There is nothing subtle about her choices in style. The dress has some qipao like qualities with the high, tight fitting neck, and the fabric that the dress appears to be made from, however she has clearly strayed from what a traditional qipao looks like. Orientalism can be explained as how the west perceives the East, and as Katy Perry demonstrates, it is typically an exaggerated perception. The flowers in her hair have an oriental look to them that match some of the embroidery on her dress, and the color of her hair. Perry takes it one step further by adding the umbrella as an accessory. The fact that she uses the umbrella as her chosen “accessory” instead of a purse or handbag to pose with on the red carpet is a clear sign of exaggeration. Flowers are used frequently in oriental designs, and Katy Perry makes that aspect quite apparent by matching the color of her hair to the flowers that decorate it. Qipaos traditionally have slits along the side to maximize movement, but Perry exaggerates this quality with the cutouts on the front and sides of her dress.

Many American celebrities have been seen in qipao, but never as exaggerated as the look Katy Perry chose to wear. One stereotype of the West is that they view the East as exotic, and Katy Perry defends this stereotype with her chosen style of qipao. Katy Perry has Orientalized the entire look by exaggerating common oriental traits.

strengthen the connotation part with denotation as supporting materials, asking the question of how Katy and her qipao construct “modern orientalism?”