Repetition of the Iconic Qipao

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Source: Wong, Wesley Thomas: “China Stories- Greeting Girls,” 2013, Hangzhou, China

The image above, titled “China Stories- Greeting Girls” portrays three young, beautiful Chinese women in Hangzhou China sporting Qipao dresses. The symmetry and simplicity of this image initially caught my eye, in which the three women of equal stature stand in a similar stance in a neat row. The color of the women’s Qipao dresses are red and of an elegant and traditional style, and their hair is styled in a neat and sophisticated bun. The photographer, Wong, explains how this photo was taken at a Comic-Con Anime festival in Hangzhou, China in which the three women acted as hostesses and “greeting girls” to guests at the event.

The image exemplifies how the Qipao has become an iconic garment in Chinese society and a stylistic trend that has been embodied as an archetype of Chinese femininity. When viewing “China Stories- Greeting Girls,” one can observe various signs upon conducting a deep connotative analysis of the image:

Repetition: In the image, 3 women are standing in a row. In their identical outfits, the women create a sense of repetition and duplication. The theme of recurrence is evident in the image, showing how the Qiapo has been reproduced and “cloned” throughout Chinese society. This reproduction of the dress has resulted in the garment becoming an iconic symbol of feminine Chinese fashion. One can also consider how, within the Chinese context, the garment has created a “standard” of feminine beauty, confining and restricting the Chinese woman to a definitive national style.  These women pictured in the image appear to represent a narrow standard of Chinese feminine fashion.

how about the qipao for those three “greeting girls” speaks for their social/gender identity: insignificant female other dressed for advertisement

Color and Style: The style of the Qipaos in this image can be viewed as being of a more traditional nature than what has come to represent the Qipao in later years. The neckline is high, and the adornments are simple, yet intricate. Where in later Chinese fashion following the 1980s, the slit rising up the side of the dress transformed to become more revealing, the slit on the dresses these women wear appear to be conservative and small. The fabric used in these Qipao dresses is red with a delicate flower design in gold. The aim of these particular Qipao dresses is not for sexualization of the feminine body, but a straightforward depiction of classic Chinese fashion, instead.

again their social status and gender identity: “greeting girls”

Embodiment of “Chinese-ness”: It is important to consider here the context of the image.   The women who are portrayed in the image are known to be “greeting girls,” for both a Chinese-speaking and English-speaking audience. It is noteworthy that the hostesses of this large event have been dressed in the Qipao outfit. The women appear to be a tool for marketing Chinese culture to the event’s guests. It is important to consider how the women are being Orientalized or exoticized to a greater mass of people through the “Chinese-ness” of the Qipao. The outifts of these “greeting girls” were intentionally chosen as a representation of Chinese femininity. a strong paragraph

The image ultimately shows how the Qipao style has not only been reproduced and repeated as an archetypal Chinese dress, but has been used to display and represent a Chinese feminine identity.