The Eternal Elegant Cheongsam (Qipao)

The elegant cheongsam

The most elegant of all known attire

In my most biased opinion, the most elegant of all female attire in the world is the cheongsam. "Cheongsam" is in Cantonese dialect meaning "long dress". Cantonese is the local dialect of the people of southern China's Guangdong Province, the capital city is Guangzhou which was formerly called Canton in English. Cantonese is also the dialect spoken by the Chinese people in Hong Kong.

This Mother of all dresses is called qi pao (旗袍) (pronounced as chi pao) in Mandarin Chinese or in Shanghainese. In the Western world it would be generally called the "Mandarin gown". Not only that the cheongsam is most elegant, it is ageless, eternally defying the fickle idiosyncrasies of the ever-changing world of fashion. I can bet my last penny that every Chinese girl worth her pinch of salt would have worn a cheongsam on many occasions of her life. Well, at least my wife did. This article is about the beautiful fairy-tale story of the eternal elegant cheongsam.

The origin of the term "qi pao" seems to be incongruent with such a beautiful piece of garment. It was during the last dynasty of China, the Qing (Ching) dynasty (1644–1912) under the Manchu rule that "qi pao" was first introduced. "Qipao" literally means "banner dress". In 1601 the Manchu leader by the name of Nurhachi who was the father of the first Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, created a "banner" system to manage his great armies of men. Qi is the term for banner or flag. He divided the army into eight groups, each under a separate colored banner or flag. Those noble people in the respective groups were addressed as "Qi" people or qiren, and their ladies' dress came to be called "qipao".

The original qipao was a long one-piece loose fitting meant to cover the whole body from neck to feet. The qi pao was initially not worn by the ethnic Han Chinese ladies. It was only after 1900 that the Han Chinese began to wear them with some variations in design. It was during the 1920s in the heyday of "decadent" capitalist Shanghai, that the qi pao became the fashionable party dress of the socialites and the upper-class ladies. The unassuming loose-flowing dress by then would have metamorphosed into a stunning, sexy tight-fitting body-hugging elegant gown with daring high slits on both sides to display the slender legs and thighs of the most beautiful ladies! The eternal elegant cheongsam was thus born.

I think the term "cheongsam" is now more widely used than "qi pao" unless one is speaking Mandarin. As such from now on, in this article, I shall only use the term "cheongsam".

The Killer Cheongsam

Super micro in black!
Super micro in black!
Mini and sexy!
Mini and sexy!

Old classic qipao

Early calender girl in qipao

Early qipao-clad girls in advertisement

Metamorphosis of the cheongsam

The present day cheongsam has come a long way through its 300 years' journey from a conservative loose fitting dress covering from neck to toes, to a modern no-holds-barred piece of high-society fashion icon. The cheongsam now comes in a million and one designs, and the myriads of fabric materials to accentuate the shape, the feel and the comfort of each piece. The Cheongsam is now the epitome of exclusivity, sensuality, and elegance of high fashion. It is clearly the undisputed choice of attire for all the famous Chinese female celebrities. It was such in the 1920s, and at present, and will forever be! If those former "banner" ladies were brought to live again, they would be shocked to death on seeing the present day figure-hugging sexy qipao!

The first sign of the cheongsam metamorphosis appeared during the 1900s culminating in the glorious 1920s era especially in the metropolitan city of Shanghai, where foreign legions ruled supreme from the forced unequal treaties that the Chinese regime had to humiliatingly signed to cede sections of China in the form of "foreign concessions" to the barbarians, as such was the term the Chinese used to describe the invading foreign forces. Most of the foreign enclaves were in the vicinity of Shanghai which made it a cosmopolitan metropolis.

With nightly parties of the well-groomed and the well-connected, a new genre of high-society socialites emerged with their ladies adorned in elegant figure-hugging cheongsam. The era of the sexy elegant cheongsam thus began in the enclaves of these "foreign concessions". Shanghai became the metropolis of high fashion and the Chinese capital of haute couture. It was in the 1920s in Shanghai, that the modern cheongsam was born. Shanghai was then hailed as the Oriental Paris.

The moment the Qing dynasty fell in 1912, the status of the cheongsam rose. By the 1920s, cheongsam hemline was raised, shortening the length, with corresponding shortened three-quarter sleeves, revealing the ankles and the lower arms. The waistline became more tight fitting to reveal the female curve.

The 1930s era in China is considered to be the Golden Age of Chinese Cinematography. Pretty film actresses emerged, came under the limelight of the new entertainment world. Fashions became more important that politics, when China took a breather for a brief period of superficial "peace" after the ravages of war. The place to be for action and entertainment was metropolitan Shanghai, where by then, high fashions from Europe had begun to influence local fashion. Well-heeled ladies from the West had followed their gentlemen to enjoy life in their respective "foreign concession" enclaves. Nightly parties were a norm rather than exceptions. The well-connected local Chinese took the opportunity to join in the fun. The socialite Chinese ladies had to transform their status and personality, and the most logical approach would be to display their figures in the most alluring and fitting way (pun intended).

The cheongsam was thus transformed and further elevated to be a party or formal dress for special occasions in high society. By then, Western high-heeled shoes and natural colored tights (stockings) were carefully matched with the elegant cheongsam. With the "discoveries" and the rise to fame of pretty film stars and singers, Shanghai became instant Hollywood. The fashion of the day was of course, the qipao. I used this term "qipao" here to emphasize the local dialect spoken in Shanghai. The qipao was daringly re-designed and up-graded to be a dress of elegance and sensuality, with high side slits and innocent-looking "cap" sleeves and flamboyant "flared" sleeves.

From the 1930s to the 40s, pictures of famous film stars, singers and calender girls were all invariably dressed in the elegant qipao. The qipao had metamorphosed into a regal status of its own, revealing every curve and bulge in the appropriate places of the female anatomy.

In 1949, following the establishment of the People's Republic of China, there was a diaspora of Chinese people to other countries, notably Taiwan, Hong Kong, and most of the South-east Asian countries, especially Malaysia and Singapore. While the mainland Chinese were hailing Chairman Mao with nationalistic fervor, the overseas Chinese were transforming the cheongsam with passionate embrace. The cheongsam took on a new perspective in its adoptive countries. Qipao gradually became more commonly known as cheongsam. The cheongsam maintained its regal status. Ladies would wear the cheongsam more exclusively for special functions. Because of the cheongsam's exclusive regal status in fashion, the new generation of expert cheongsam tailors further enhanced its sensuality with front and back waist seams, creating an hour-glass figure for the wearer. Gradually, the cheongsam became a popular day-wear for most Chinese ladies in their adopted countries in the 1950s.

The new generations of Chinese from the 1960s onwards were exposed to modern contemporary Western-style dresses which were more casual and more comfortable to wear and generally less costly. The cheongsam returned to its deserving status of exclusivity and worn mainly for exclusive functions and festivities.

In the craft of cheongsam design, there are actually two main traditional styles. The northern part of China follows the Beijing style and is called "Jing pai", while the southern part follows the Shanghai style called "Hai pai". The Beijing style has a more angular or squarish cut and a more conservative loose form with full-length. As expected, the Shanghai style incorporates western ideas and has a fitting cut, hugging the contours of the body and has various lengths. Of course today, there is no boundary to cheongsam design.

Cheongsam, the legend

Something as legendary as the cheongam would eventually be a good subject for creating a legend. A legend is most probably a fictitious story. And this legend of the qipao is definitely just a fairy-tale story.

Once upon a time in a place called Jingbo Lake, there lived a beautiful fisherman's daughter. She was skilled in all the affairs of the home. Being a fisherman's daughter she was also skilled in fishing. However, she was always hindered by her clumsy dress each time she went fishing. So one day she had an idea, and she sewed herself a special dress with slits on both sides which made her movements much easier. The qipao was thus created. Hold on; this is not the end of the story yet.

One night the young emperor had a dream where his deceased father told him of a beautiful and clever fisherman's daughter who had created her special qipao, and who would be his beautiful wife. Upon waking up, the young emperor summoned his generals to search for this beautiful lady, and sure enough they found her and brought her to the palace. The Emperor saw the beautiful girl wearing the special qipao and fell in love with her. And they lived happily ever after! Soon all the ladies across China adopted the qipao as their favorite dress.

See, told you so; just a fairy-tale story.

How the cheongsam remains eternal

Fashion comes and goes in no time. It seems to me, the only garments that have withstood the ravage of time are those worn by spiritual or religious persons. One such dress is the nun's attire which still maintain its form although it has also undergone many subtle changes. How did the cheongsam outlast every other attire of fashion? There are three factors that sustained the survival of the cheongsam. Versatility, exclusiveness, and elegance.


The versatility of the cheongsam enabled it to flow with the times and accommodate to the dictates of changing fashions as well as traditional values, while still was able to preserve its intrinsic form. Had the cheongsam been a one-off rigid fancy fashion it would have reached its life-cycle a long time ago.The cheongsam featured different designs and styles in order to accommodate different groups of wearers. Even the elderly ladies could wear the cheongsam befittingly. Little children also look cute in cheongsam. And flowing with the stream of constant change, there are now cheongsam "tops" to add to the wardrobe. Take a look at the photo below.


The next factor is the cheongsam's exclusiveness. Although for a time the cheongsam succumbed to being treated as a most common garb for the ordinary Chinese women, it then was successfully elevated to its rightful status as a regal and exclusive attire for ladies of culture and high society. The cheongsam has now become a symbol of class, making exclusive appearance in important functions and events.


Fashion is all about beauty and elegance. The elegance of cheongsam is beyond imagination. For the elderly ladies, the cheongsam can cover up all the flaws of the wearers. For the shapely and pretty ladies, the cheongsam will reveal every sensuous curve and bulge. The loose-fitting cheongsam makes the elderly matriarch look matronly. And figure-hugging cheongsam, turns the beautiful ladies into stunning and sexy creatures!

With the combination of versatility, exclusiveness and elegance, the synergistic outcome is a dress that exudes an aura of glamor and regality. Cheongsam, the "Mother" of all dresses, will forever remain timeless and eternal.

Cheongsam tops

Cheongsam, exclusive work dress

It is no surprise nor coincidence that many high-profile Chinese companies have adopted the cheongsam for their female staff. Taking top places are airlines, hotels, and places of entertainment. It is safe to bet that all the airlines in China and Taiwan, have chosen the cheongsam as one of their work dresses, from the ground staff to the air-hostesses. Walk into any famous hotel, and you will be greeted by shapely ladies in high-slit cheongsam with matching high-heeled shoes. And when you are in the exclusive restaurant, your dining feast will be equally matched with a visual feast of ladies-in waiting wearing...of course, the high-slit cheongsam!

Air Hostesses of China's Sichuan Airlines

Hand-crafted embroidery on a cheongsam

Samples of traditional Chinese buttons

Matching the cheongsam

Do you know, wearing the cheongsam elegantly nowadays is not that simple? There are other factors that the wearer needs to consider. Bearing in mine the cheongsam is no longer an ordinary wear, but an exclusive and regal attire that showcases the female form in the most pleasing manner befitting the occasion. It now comes in a package. The wearer needs to consider a proper match for the occasion. These include hairstyle, accessories, and shoes. The design of the cheongsam will take into account, what function one is going to, and the time of day or night, the material used, and the two most important considerations, the type of button design, and the fabric design.

There are so many types of traditional Chinese knotted buttons with different designs to choose from. Traditionally, the most important and attractive part of a cheongsam is the hand-crafted embroidery on the material, in the form of colorful flowers, beautiful butterflies, imposing dragons, elegant phoenixes, and the many artistic and intricate Chinese geometric motifs. Even to this day, a truly cheongsam masterpiece lies in its hand-crafted embroidery on the fabric.

Ruan Lingyu, China's first movie actress

Ruan Lingyu, the first icon of Chinese cinematography

Ruan Lingyu's funeral

The dimpled Hu Die

Zhou Xuan, most famous Chinese actress

Lin Dai with Kirk Douglas

Lin Dai in gorgeous cheongsam

The wax figure of Teresa Teng

The real Teresa Teng in action

Past Chinese celebrities in cheongsam

During the roaring 1920s and 30s, Shanghai was not only the center of trade and business, it was the Hollywood of Asia. Shanghai was the birth-place of the first generation movie actresses. All the female celebrities wore the modern qipao. This included all the famous actresses. Let me share with you the three most famous Shanghai actress celebrities of that era. And take a look at their glamor in classic qipao.

1. Ruan Lingyu (1911 - 1935)

The first and foremost was Ruan Lingyu of the silent film era in the 1920s. Ruan, not only was the first Chinese movie celebrity in the entertainment history of China, but also unfortunately became the first victim of fame and glamor. She committed suicide at a youthful age of only 24 in 1935, at the height of her career. Such was her fame and fanatic love by her fans that her funeral procession was reportedly 3 miles (4.8 km) long, with three women committing suicide during the event.

In 1992, a film was made about Ruan's life, called "Center Stage - Ruan Lingyu" starring Maggie Cheung.

2. Hu Die (1907 - 1989)

The dimpled Hu Die (pronounced as "tare" as in "stare") was the first Chinese actress to appear in the first sound film of China, in 1930 in the movie "Sing-song Red Peony" (The singsong girl) . Her name means "butterfly" and was fondly called "Butterfly Hu". Hu Die was a contemporary of Ruan Lingyu. Hu Die's most famous film was "Twin sisters" which she acted in twin roles of the two sisters. She died in April, 1989 in Vancouver, Canada.

Hu Die was the pioneer who modernized the cheongsam design. She daringly shortened the cheongsam to knee-length, and to balance it off, the sleeves were likewise shortened to above the elbow. It was such a refreshing innovation that her fans called her creation the "Hu Die" qipao.

Another "Hu Die" product was the iconic Chinese vacuum flask. Those born before the 60s in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia would be familiar with those ubiquitous "Butterfly" brand vacuum flasks made in Hong Kong. Every household in these regions would have the iconic "Butterfly" vacuum flask in the kitchen. Apparently, those "Butterfly" vacuum flasks were named after Butterfly Wu by her businessman husband who produced those flasks.

3. Zhou Xuan (1918 - 1957)

Zhou Xuan (pronounced as Chou Shuen) was the most famous of all the Chinese actresses even today. To me, she was also the most beautiful. She was the iconic Chinese actress, and no one could ever replace her as the most revered Chinese actress of all time. Zhou Xuan ruled the silver screen from the 30s to early 50s until her untimely death on 22, September, 1957. She was both a talented actress and a singer to boot, earning her the accolade of "The Golden Voice". Her evergreen songs are still being played today. The most famous is "The Wandering Songstress" (1937), which incidentally is still one of my favorite songs. In those days, every Chinese movie would be accompanied by many songs, sung by the leading actress. Zhou Xuan almost single-handedly monopolized all the famous Mandarin songs during the 30s to the 50s. Following the release of her film, "Shanghai Nights" (夜上海) in 1949, the theme song became the most popular song eversince. For sure, if ever there is a retro celebration of old Shanghai, this song "Shanghai Nights" will definitely be the theme song.

Tragically, Zhou Xuan died in a mental asylum in Shanghai at the age of 39, in 1957.

The New Wave in Hong Kong

Lin Dai (1934-1964)

The Chinese movie scene shifted to Hong Kong and Taiwan, following the take-over of China by Mao in 1949. The 1960s era produced the famous actress Lin Dai (pronounced as in "tie") who was awarded four times as the Best Actress at the Asia Pacific Film Festival. Lin Dai was then the new product of modern cinematography. The stage name "Lin Dai" was chosen from her Christian name Linda.

As Ruan Lingyu committed suicide at the age of 24, Lin Dai also committed suicide in 1964, at age 30. As mentioned earlier, the most famous Chinese actress, Zhou Xuan, died in a mental asylum in Shanghai at the age of 39. The curse of fame, glamor and beauty. There is this Chinese proverb that states something like this : "Beauty suffers the fate of sorrow".

The Diva from Taiwan

Teresa Teng (1953-1995)

Mention Teresa Teng to any Chinese and you would be told that she was the greatest diva in the Chinese music scene. Teresa Teng was born in Taiwan on 29 January 1953. She was only 15 when she had her first recording release. From then onwards, her fame spread throughout China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. She went to Japan and created a huge following singing in Japanese.

Teresa Teng had the most pleasing vocal that would melt any man's heart. And with a natural innocent girlish look, she became the greatest singing idol of every Chinese, and other nationalities who had listened to her songs. With such a great voice it seemed ironic that Teresa Teng suffered from Asthma, and it was in Chiangmai, Thailand that she had a severe attack of asthma that caused her sudden death on 8 May 1995 at a young age of 42.

Teresa Teng was so famous and popular that Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Hong Kong honored her with a full-size wax figure dressed in elegant cheongsam. By the way, in 1983,Teresa Teng became the first Chinese ever to perform at Ceaser's Palace in Las Vegas.

Teresa Teng was given a state honor with the Taiwanese flag draped over her casket, with the Taiwanese President in attendance. Such was Teresa Teng's greatness in the Chinese music scene.

Teresa Teng sang in many languages, and of course in English too. Below is the youtube presentation of her singing in English, "I just called to say I love you".

One outstanding Chinese American Actress deserves mentioning

Anna May Wong (1905-1961)

Anna May Wong was born near the Chinatown neighborhood of Los Angeles to second-generation Chinese-American parents. She was the first Chinese American actress to gain international recognition. Her career spanned from the silent film era to stage, radio and television.

Anna May Wong, The First Chinese American Actress

Teresa Teng - I Just Called To Say I Love You

The dimpled Hu Die

Zhou Xuan:The Greatest Icon of Chinese Movies and Songs

Li Li Hua with Clark Gable (1954 in Hong Kong)

Li Li Hua

Nancy Kwan

Michelle Yeoh

Maggie Cheung

Gong Li in the movies "Shanghai"

Zhang Ziyi

Tang Wei

Jiang Yi-Yan

Chrissie Chau

Liu Yifei

Current Chinese celebrities in cheongsam

Under this section, current Chinese celebrities include those who have long retreated from public eyes, but are still enjoying good health. They surely deserve to be honored under this section instead of putting them in the "past" category. Two of the most well-known actresses are Li Li Hua and Nancy Kwan.

The Two Living Chinese Icons in Early Chinese Movie History

1. Li Li Hua:

Li Li Hua was born in 1924 in Hebei, China. Her mother nicknamed her "xiaomi" meaning "little kitten", as she was born prematurely at only 7 months and used to cry like a little kitten. Li Li Hua is known as the "evergreen tree" because of her ever lasting beauty. Her first movie was at age 16 in Shanghai when she appeared as the main character in the film "Three Smiles" (San Xiao).

In 1962, eight year old Jackie Chan was selected to act as Li Li Hua's son, and subsequently appeared with her in two more movies. Her career spanned more than 30 years from the 1940s to 1970s, and her roles in films even in the later years had never been relegated to lessor roles. She was always the main character in all her movies, many were epic blockbusters. She appeared in no less than 120 films until her retirement in 1978. Her career spanned the movie world of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei. In her movies she sang numerous songs. However, her songs are not as popular and evergreen as Zhou Xuan's.

Li Li Hua's fame and beauty spread to the movie world in the west. In 1958, she starred opposite Victor Mature in "China Doll". During that period, even Yul Bryner could not fail to notice her beauty. She was also featured in Life magazine in the early 50s.

She now lives in Hong Kong and is enjoying her twilight years with charity work appearances,

2. Nancy Kwan:

Nancy Kwan was born in Hong Kong in 1939. Her father was a Chinese and her mother was of English-Scottish ancestry. Nancy Kwan became famous after appearing as Suzie Wong in "The World of Suzie Wong" in 1960. In this movie, Nancy Kwan dressed almost entirely in cheongsam throughout the film, accentuating her hourglass figure at its best. She then starred in "Flower Drum Song" the following year.

Nancy Kwan appeared in more than 50 films and in two television series. She is now involved in AIDS awareness work and contributes funds for this cause. Her son died of AIDS. She now lives in Los Angeles. Nancy Kwan is also a close friend of the late Bruce Lee.

Present Day Chinese Celebrities

There are too many present day Chinese celebrities to be mentioned here, all of them have displayed their beautiful figures in the cheongsam. As this article is about cheongsam and not about Chinese celebrities, I shall only write briefly on the most famous. Amongst them, I have chosen 8 of the most famous and show them in their cheongsam elegance.

1. Michelle Yeoh:

Michelle Yeoh was born on 6 August 1963. She is from Malaysia just like me. She was crowned Miss Malaysia in 1983, and was chosen "Queen of the Pacific" in Australia. She represented Malaysia in the 1983 Miss World pageant in London.

Her first break into the international movie scene was in 1997 when she appeared in the James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies" under the stage name of Michelle Khan. Her two best known films are "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Memoirs of a Geisha". Her latest film in English was "The Lady" portraying Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar.

2. Maggie Cheung:

Maggie Cheung Man-yuk was born in Hong Kong on 20 September 1964. She grew up in England and Hong Kong. In 1983, she was the first runner-up of Miss Hong Kong, while winning the Miss Photogenic award. She went on to reach the semi-final in the Miss World contest the same year. Her acting career also started in 1983 with Jackie Chan in :Police Story" and since then has appeared in more than 70 movies. Apart from Mandarin and Cantonese, she also speaks English and French,

She portrayed the first Chinese movie star Ruan Lingyu in "Centre Stage" in 1992. She married French director Olivier Assayas in 1998 but divorced in 2001. However, in 2004 she collaborated with Assayas to produce the award-winning film "Clean" which she also acted as the character Emily.

Maggie Cheung now pursues her other interests in painting, composing music, and philanthropy. In April 2010 she was appointed as UNICEF's Ambassador to China.

3. Gong Li:

Gong Li (pronounced as Kong Lee) was born in China on 31 December 1965. Gong Li is also well-known in the western world, as her films have been shown in Europe and the United States. Her three most memorable films are "Raise the red lantern", "Farewell my concubine" and "Memoirs of a Geisha".

Gong Li was voted the "Most beautiful woman in China" in 2006. Not a surprise given her voluptuous proportions! Take a look at her in the red cheongsam.

Gong Li is now a citizen of Singapore.

4. Zhang Ziyi:

Zhang Ziyi (pronounced as Chang Chee Yee) was born on 9 February 1979, in Beijing, China. At the age of 15, Zhang won the national youth dance championship. At 19, she appeared in the leading role in "The Road Home" directed by the famous director Zhang Yimou. Her two other famous films are "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Memoirs of a Geisha".

Her simple beauty now endorses the famous brands like Maybeline, Garnier, Omega Watches, and the Shangri-la Hotel and Resort Group.

5. Tang Wei:

Tang Wei was born in China on 7 October, 1979. In 2006, she was selected from more than 10,000 actresses to take on the lead role in the film "Lust, Caution". After "Lust, Caution" was released in 2007, Tang Wei rose to fame. In the film, Tang Wei showcased a total of 27 cheongsam dresses.

6. Jiang Yiyan:

Jiang Yiyan ("Jiang" is pronounced "Chiang") was born in China on 11 September, 1983. She speaks Mandarin, English and Japanese. She appears in films and on tv, apart from being a dancer and singer.

7. Chrissie Chau:

Chrissie Chau was born in mainland China on 22 May, 1985. She is now based in Hong Kong. She is a celebrity model in Hong Kong as well as an actress.

8. Liu Yifei:

Liu Yifei was born in China on 25 August 1987, making her the youngest of all the celebrities mentioned here. She began modelling at the age of 8. She moved to the United States at the age of 10 with her mother and lived there for four years. She is an actress, appearing in movies and on tv, as well as being a dancer, a model and a singer. She also sings in Japanese and is very well-known in Japan.

Nancy Kwan in "The World of Suzie Wong"

Gong Li in stunning red cheongsam

Zhang Ziyi in a spaghetti-string cheongsam

Jiang Yiyan in a sleeveless cheongsam, with front split

Liu Yifei in a classic elegant high-collar cheongsam

Miss Cheongsam Contests

Given the popularity of the cheongsam, it is not surprising to see "Miss Cheongsam" pageants in Asian countries. Of course we have the "Miss Cheongsam" competition in China. The winner of the 2012 Miss Cheongsam of China was Wang Yili.

In my country, Malaysia, there is also the "Miss Cheongsam" competition. In both the 2012 and 2013 competitions, the winners were from my state, the paradise island of Penang. For 2012, Lliss Wong was Miss Cheongsam, while first runner-up was Stephy Lee, And this year 2013, Miss Cheongsam is Billie Lim, and first runner-up is Joo Huei. All four of them are from my homestate, the paradise island of Penang! So you can say, Penang produces the most beautiful girls!

Hope in the near future, there will be a MIss Cheongsam International contest.

Miss Cheongsam China 2012:Wang Yili

Miss Cheongsam Malaysia 2012 (#5 Lliss Wong and first runner-up #7 Stephy Lee, both from Penang, my home island)

Miss Cheongsam Malaysia 2013 (#8 Billie Lim and first runner-up #11 Joo Huei, both from Penang, my home island)

Miss Cheongsam Malaysia 2013 Pageant (#8 winner, #11 first runner-up, both from my island home, Penang)

Soong Ching-ling, Shanghai after Sun Yat-sen's funeral, April1925


The last Queen of China, Empress Wan Rong

Han Suyin, famous writer on China

China's First Lady, Peng Liyuan

Famous Chinese Personalities in Cheongsam

Soong Ching-ling (1893-1981) more often addressed as Madame Sun Yat-Sen. Sun Yat-Sen was the first president and founding father of the Republic of China after overthrowing the Qing Dynasty in 1912. During her final years, she was given the special title of Honorary President of the People's Republic of China.

Empress Wan Rong (1906-1946) was the last Empress (Queen) of China. She was the wife of the last Emperor of China, Henry Puyi. She died a tragic death in 1946 from starvation and drug withdrawal in prison.

Han Suyin recently passed away on 2 November, 2012 at a ripe old age of 96. She was a doctor and writer. Her books were all about life in China especially during those turbulent years of modern Chinese history. Her most famous book was "“A Many-Splendored Thing” which was made into a film.

Peng Liyuan is China's new First Lady. In China, she is more famous than her husband, President Xi Jinping because she has been a very popular and glamorous singer in China.

Jennifer Jones

Foreign celebrities in cheongsam

Jennifer Jones (1919 – 2009) was an American Oscar-winning actress. She played the lead lady in "Love is a many splendored thing" in 1955, from Han Suyin's book "A many splendored thing".

The other four foreigners in the cheongsam line-up are Grace Kelly, Celine Dion, Nicole Kidman and Paris Hilton.

Grace Kelly

Celine Dion

Nicole Kidman

Paris Hilton

Adoring children in cheongsam

Cheongsam looks cute on little girls too! Take a look at the pictures below and you will surely agree with me. Next time instead of buying toys for the little girls as birthday presents, try the cheongsam. I am sure they will love to wear them as well.

Little sweeties in cheongsam

Vietnamese Cheongsam

Take a look at the Vietnamese national dress called "ao dai". The ao dai usually comes in 2 pieces, the full dress with two side slits, just like the cheongsam, and a pair of free flowing pants. Whether it is called "ao dai" or Vietnamese cheongsam, there is no doubt that the dress is equally sexy and appealing. Have a visual feast below, of the two beautiful Vietnamese ladies in the equally beautiful "ao dai". Or can we call it the Vietnamese cheongsam?

Jennifer Pham in a Vietnamese Cheongsam

Vietnamese Ao Dai or is it Vietnamese Cheongsam?

Vietnamese Cheongsam

Vietnamese Cheongsam

A parting advice on which type of cheongsam you should wear

This piece of timeless, elegant garment cuts both ways. Beware of the dangers awaiting you. The cheongsam is a "killer" in two different ways. Wear it appropriately and befittingly, it will display your beautiful figure approvingly, or if you are past 50 and have a "compromised" figure, the cheongsam may even hide your physical liabilities and make you look matronly elegant.

In other words, if you wish to display your figure in a cheongsam, please ensure that you have a beautiful figure. Otherwise, the cheongsam will kill your physical image publicly. However, for older women, a loose-fitting cheongsam may streamline the figure for a more elegant motherly look. As a general precaution, I would advise those ladies who are too over-weight, to avoid wearing the cheongsam. Don't blame me for not giving this warning.

History and description of Qipao (Cheongsam)

An elegant display of the eternal cheongsam

Latest : 2000 ladies in cheongsam

This is the latest I found from one of my friends' blog.

On June 6, 2013, about 2000 ladies dressed in different cheongsam styles in Shanghai's Oriental Pearl TV Tower to showcase China's cultural heritage. It was the largest cheongsam-clad gathering in China, or surely, the biggest in the world. Take a look at the picture below.

The eternal elegant cheongsam is certainly going to last "10,000 years", the favorite term used by the Chinese to describe something that is going to last "forever" or at least 10,000 years.

Largest cheongsam-clad gathering in Shanghai, China

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Comments 10 comments

Prisana profile image

Prisana 3 years ago from Thailand and Colorado

Extremely well written and researched with fantastic pictures and video...a truly interesting hub with great visual appeal and historic data!

Good Guy profile image

Good Guy 3 years ago from Malaysia Author

Hi Prisana,

This hub is supposed to be for the "Stellar Hub" contest which Admin announced a few months ago. What a let down when they did not even want to respond to my query about whether the contest is on or not. So I got fed-up with their "elegant" silence, and decided to publish it after freezing it for weeks. I bet they are not keen to keep their promise. Never mind.

Thanks for reading and comment.

Prisana profile image

Prisana 3 years ago from Thailand and Colorado

Never mind...Mai Pen Rai in Thai...I am surprised that they did not respond to your query...maybe email them again...via a different email? I have not heard of the Stellar Hub did you learn about it?

Good Guy profile image

Good Guy 3 years ago from Malaysia Author

jacklace profile image

jacklace 3 years ago from china

The QIPAO come from Qingchao and it is really beautiful

Robes Rouge profile image

Robes Rouge 2 years ago from Xiamen, Fujian

Wow, this article shown very details about qipao. As one of qipao lover and editor, someone who interested in qipao, should like to read my article: or visit my fanpage or visit my website

cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

cmoneyspinner1tf 20 months ago from Austin, Texas

This is horrible! Not the HUB. It's horrible there are so many wonderful images and the article is so informative I don't know where to share it? Pinterest? Google+? My blogs? I'm overwhelmed!! VOTED UP!!!

Good Guy profile image

Good Guy 20 months ago from Malaysia Author

Hi Treathyl you are horribly funny. I nearly have a heart attack when i read yout first sentence. Thanks for your hotrible compliments. Lol!!!

Joan King profile image

Joan King 10 months ago

Very elegant and beautiful, I can see myself in all of those lovely dresses

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jackclee lm 8 months ago from Yorktown NY

Excellent hub on a Chinese traditional garment. Very informative.

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