Stylish and sexy, the signature dress of 1930s Shanghai is the focus of MATCHA: The Shanghai Dress on Thursday evening, June 3, 2010, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Shanghai born and Bay Area bred Jane Zhu will narrate a show of her gorgeous and updated qipao and explain the history and intricacies of the iconic garment. Museum visitors can also learn how to make traditional Chinese buttons, tour the galleries and special Shanghai exhibition (which will be staffed by docents), and enjoy music by DJ Quantum. There will also be cash bars and Shanghai dumplings being served at the museum cafe.
The qipao originated in the 17th century Qing Dynasty as a baggy, one piece dress that hung straight and covered a woman from her neck to her ankles. In the early 1900s, the garment was revised in Shanghai to be body-hugging and sleek. Shanghai socialites and high-end courtesans made it the centerpiece of their wardrobes and the qipao became a symbol of sophistication, elan and modernity. Called “cheongsam” in Cantonese, the qipao is the dress made famous from the movies “In the Mood for Love”, “Lust, Caution” and “The World of Suzie Wong.”
Designer Jane Zhu’s custom made qipao have been spotlighted in Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and other publications in China and have become a favorite of brides. Before launching her boutique qipao business in Shanghai three years ago, Zhu learned cutting and design from qipao specialists and scoured Suzhou and Hangzhou, China’s silk capitals near Shanghai, for sumptuous fabrics and eye-catching fabrics.
Qipao by Jane only sells to customers directly, which entails taking more than 20 measurements, choosing fabric, lining, piping, button design, lengths and other finishes and refitting. Zhu has modernized the classic qipao by playing with the hem length, collar, closures and other details, including adding slits and visible zippers that wind around the dress and designs inspired by traditional Chinese papercut art.
The Matcha event is from 5:00 to 9:00 PM at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, and admission is $10. Now in its sixth year, Matcha is a mixer of art, performance, music and conversation that allows visitors to experience the museum in engaging ways.