Festival celebrates enduring appeal of qipao
From June to September at the 2019 Hangzhou Global Qipao Festival, you will find a dress design competition, fashion shows and a host of other activities.
Qipao, or cheongsam, is a body-hugging one-piece dress, usually made from silk and considered the ideal expression of Chinese femininity. Hangzhou, one of the birthplaces of silk, started producing the material around 5,000 years ago.
Last year, the traditional dress was worn at events in San Francisco and Sydney, when models in silk qipao visited landmarks including Stanford University and the Sydney Opera House.
This year, 10 events will be held in overseas cities like Paris, Prague and Vienna. Last month, the festival began with a fashion show at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. French and Chinese models were on the catwalk in ornate qipao by designer Li Jialin. Dancers from the Zumba Alix troupe performed in qipao which perfectly contrasted with the exotic vigor of the fitness craze. The troupe also uploaded a festival video to TikTok.
This year, the festival has an African feel under the “Belt and Road” Initiative. In June, Chinese people living in Zimbabwe hosted a charity activity to promote Hangzhou qipao and raise money for local artists.
In the coming weeks, events in Prague Square, at the United Nations in Vienna, on Tower Bridge in London and in Verona in Italy, will see Chinese women living in those cities come together in music, dance and poetry readings.
Other fashion shows will take place at Hangzhou’s West Lake, the Grand Canal, Liangzhu Museum, Xixi Wetland, the City Balcony in Qianjiang New Town and in Yishang Town. Students from local schools and women from universities and government departments will put on performances themed on qipao to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China.
A qipao design competition has attracted entries from 10 countries and regions. Winning designs will be displayed in Hangzhou China Silk Museum. A video competition on TikTok encourages submission of innovative videos related to qipao.
The qipao festival is the core of Hangzhou Tourism Commission’s “F Plan” — with the F standing for fashion, fans, friendship, fine arts, folk, flights and fairs — an international city branding project for the European and American markets.
In 2014, the “Modern Marco Polo” competition attracted over 25,000 candidates. In 2015, two families were chosen from China and the US to act as city ambassadors and sent on a 30-day trip around the world to promote Hangzhou as a tourist destination.