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Fashion (Term Paper Sample)


The Cheongsam is a female dress with distinctive Chinese features. In the last decade it has enjoyed a growing popularity in the international fashion market world worldwide . The name “Cheongsam,” simply means “long dress,” and it entered the English vocabulary from the dialect of Southern China, the Guangdong Province

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Fashion and its Association With femininity and Bourgeois Decadence (Cheongsam)
The Cheongsam is a female dress with distinctive Chinese features. In the last decade it has enjoyed a growing popularity in the international fashion market world worldwide (Bennett, A 2005, p. 96). The name “Cheongsam,” simply means “long dress,” and it entered the English vocabulary from the dialect of Southern China, the Guangdong Province (Cantonese). In other parts of China, like Beijing and Shanghai, it is known as the “Qipao”.
The Chinese Cheongsam is more than simply a garment; it's emblematic is a mixture of the ancient and the modern designs. There have been a few changes in Cheongsam for the last few centenaries (Bennett, A 2005, p. 96). This fashion design shows the intense Socio-political and cultural activities of those times. There is a blend of the masculinity and femininity, when it comes to the development of the Cheongsam. This has been reflected when it come to the process undertaken to execute a Fashionable Cheongsam (Bennett, A 2005, p. 96). In this essay, we will be considering the theory of masculinity and femininity and how globalization may have changed the Cheongsam when it comes to the fusion of Chinese tradition with modern styles (Roche, D 2000, p.193).
The Cheongsam originated from the Manchu's who grew out of the ancient Nuzhen tribes. In the beginning of the 17th century, Nurhachi was a great political and military strategist. He was able to unify the various Nuzhen tribes while creating up the 8banner System. In the coming years, a collarless, gown with a tube shape was created. It was worn by all members of the society. It is known as the embryo of the Cheongsam (Bennett, A 2005, p. 96). This dress can be buttoned up from the right side, or the loose chest. This dress can be translated as "banner gown" as it came from the people who lived under the Banner System.
In the Qing dynasty, the Cheongsam had two symbolic implications which we will look at. Initially, it symbolized the submissive relationship between the commoner and the people in power. Either member, either the common banner6 lady could wear the Cheongsam casually, while the noble family members wore only formal court dress. Secondly, the Cheongsam did display the cultural and ethnic distinctions between Han7 and Manchu8 women (Bennett, A 2005, p. 96). Apart from protecting one's body from snow and sun, a cheongsam served to indicate the gender and social status of its owner through its fit, color, and fabric.
It should be noted that when it comes to the design of the garment, the patterns of the sun, moon, mountains and dragons were exclusively reserved for the emperor's garments. The Cheongsam initially was used to represent the dictatorial rule of the Manchu minority in the Qing Empire, while it showed the ability to symbolize the segregation of different social groups. We should remember that for the last three centuries in the Qing Dynasty, their women did not have clothes that they could call ‘fashion' (Bennett, A 2005, p. 96). The people then wore the same clothes from generation to generation and yet no one was tired of the cheongsam.
The blue cloth Cheongsam then became the typical female student's uniform toward the end of Qing Dynasty. The cloth then became the symbol of national identity as it was used to differentiate between educated and uneducated women in the society. It later became an icon of the initial stages of modern Chinese fashion (Bennett, A 2005, p. 96). By the late 1919, a manifesto for New Youth (the trailblazing literary journal of the democratic New Culture Movement) noted that woman's role in society must be respected for social progress, the greater individual freedom and equality impacted particularly on the role of women in China since that time. Women could be seen wearing a jacket and a skirt while on the next day men could be seen wearing the Cheongsam.
The cheongsam is known to invoke modernity as it has an imitation of the men's single-piece cheongsam, worn by traditional scholars, claimed for women an equal status with men. Gradually, the cheongsam became a tighter fitting by the 1930s, this means that it had a body-hugging and slit to the thigh. This symbolized the new sexual availability of China's women and the desirability of the new-style woman (Bennett, A 2005, p. 96). The attributes of the Cheongsam shows that gender can be borrowed or swapped and it has been expressed in a single garment from which gender identification and significance are laid out while been able to be interchanged. The fluidity of its gender associations is not a privilege solely for women. We can take the example of Jean Paul Gaultier‘s brocade cheongsam for men (Roche, D 2000, p.193). The designer is known to have endorsed femininity for men.
Fashion historians have a careful depiction of the cheongsam. The typical cheongsam at that time was long, cut close to the figure, and featured long slits up the sides. Some people think that the feminization of the cheongsam was taken to some extremes. Turning to 1920s, Shanghai was the most active and flourishing port with an international connection of foreign commerce in China. It's trading connections and large population of foreigners had a great influence on the Cheongsam (Roche, D 2000, p.193). The port and its business people therefore increasingly subjected to the western influence and the associated impact of modernity. For example the great popularity of cinema brought knowledge of Western customs and fashions into people's daily lives.
The international fashion trends have been shown by Western style accessories and their feminine stereotypes has served as reinforcement in to objectifying the wearers. There have been two different types of stereotypes: the ‘new' or ‘modern' woman and the conventional ‘family woman' (Roche, D 2000, p.193). The family woman stayed at home taking care of the children and husband. All the two stereotypes were cheongsam, but the differences comes with the roles which they played after been distinguished by their fabric, style, shape, and the accessories they used to match the dresses and the details of the garment eroticism.
It should be noted that all the stereotypes were using their own way to represent the sexually subordinate to their counterparts. By the late 1920s and early 1930s, big Shanghai companies used the modem woman as an enticement to purchase and consume their "modem" goods and services. In this commercial framework, the modem cheongsam woman was seen as glamorous, fashionable, desirable, and available.
During the 1930s, the cheongsam had become the symbolic dress of what the west could expect from the appearance of Chinese women. It was used to express the new Chinese woman while growing the industrial complex and consumer culture (Bennett, A 2005, p. 96). Compared to the 1920s fashionable cheongsam, it still bore traits like the traditional Manchu robe, but in a much more modified form. It shows that the decades of evolution have earned it a global recognition valued by the fashion conscious male and the Western gaze (Roche, D 2000, p.193). In the end it has picked up symbolic meanings projected by popular and media culture where celebrities across the globe refashion it with sexiness, exoticism and eroticism.
There was a whole point of desirability when it comes to the new-style cheongsams. The collar of the Cheongsam generally takes the shape of a semicircle, with its right and left sides being symmetrical, while gratifying the soft and slender neck of a woman. It could at the same time press against the woman's lips and chin, bringing out the female sex appeal (Bennett, A 2005, p. 96). The front of the Cheongsam is rather ordinary; to be more exactly its bust girth is appropriate. The design of the front of the garment is simple and flowing without any decoration. The designers make the waist girth appear as thin as possible to present the high breast indirectly; by means of the flat back of the Cheongsam they highlight the wavy shape of the breast.
The Cheongsam seen today may have a variety form of sleeves. One of the Cheongsam is without sleeves. Quite contrary to the traditional cheongsam with a protrusive front and tiny waist, sleeveless, cheongsam exposes a woman's slender arms, making her feel comfortable and cool. On the other hand, the garment shows the inventiveness of the designer. Example, it has long sleeves, elbow sleeves, cornet sleeves, and double sleeves (Roche, D 2000, p.193). The cuffs of the cheongsam are so varie...
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