The cheongsam, the body-hugging one-piece Chinese dress also known as qipao, has been a mainstay in the costumes worn by female characters in the Hong Kong movies of yore.
Clad by popular entertainers, the cheongsam became a highly fashionable garment in the 1950s and 1960s and became a distinctive feature in the local movie industry.
Over the years, the dress has undergone some modifications in terms of the cut and features but it still holds a special allure, with many women wearing it for important occasions.
To pay tribute to the dress and outline the important role it played in local movie history, the Hong Kong Film Archive has now opened a new exhibition to the public.
The event, titled “The Stars, the Silver Screen and the Qipao”, is being held at the Fim Archive’s exhibition hall at its facility in Sai Wan Ho and will run until January 1 next year.
Among the exhibits are 24 pieces of cheongsam dresses featured in movies of different eras.
The displays comprise five thematic zones, namely “Women in Wartime”, “Modern Girls”, “Stars on the Stage”, “Wife Life” and “Souls in the Shadows”.
On show are cheongsam costumes that appeared in movies from the 1940s to the 2000s and were worn by renowned actresses past and present, including Bai Guang in “Blood Will Tell” (1949), Zhou Xuan in “The Flower Street” (1950), Linda Lin Dai in “The Orphan Girl” (1956), Hsia Moon in “Sunrise” (1956).
Other actresses featured in the exhibit are Li Xianglan in “An Unforgettable Night” (1958), Anita Mui in “Kawashima Yoshiko” (1990), Maggie Cheung in “Centre Stage” (1992) and “The Soong Sisters” (1997), Joey Wong and Miyazawa Rie in “Peony Pavilion” (2001).
Specially edited film clips and photogravure will be screened at the venue, allowing visitors to take a journey into the past for a glimpse of the charm of some of the cheongsam-wearing belles on the silver screen.
To complement the exhibition, a cheongsam workshop will be held on November 11, 12, 25 and 26, during which participants will be able to try their hand at being a tailor.
Also, a seminar entitled “The Charm of Qipao: The Daily Wear that Became a Cultural Icon” will be held on November 25 at the archive’s cinema.
Admission to the exhibition, workshop and seminar is free. The address of the Hong Kong Film Archive is 50 Lei King Road, Sai Wan Ho, a few minutes’ walk from Exit A, Sai Wan Ho MTR station.
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