Qipao Love: Part 8 ~ Qipao on the silver screen.....

Jennifer Jones as Han Suyin ('Love is a many splendored thing' - 1955)
The film that actually made the Qipao (Cheongsam) a frenzied fashion trend in the West, with dress patterns suddenly appearing for the public to create their own version of the style, was actually the American production 'Love is a Many Splendored Thing' (1955) with lead actress Jennifer Jones ...but the British production 'World of Suzie Wong' (1960) is often more remembered with the greater display of tightly glamorous Cheongsam dresses in every scene, the scandalous nature of the character's profession and lead actress Nancy Kwan's Golden Globe nomination. Just in case you lovely darlings may be wondering...I am indeed devotedly fascinated by the Qipao, as many of you can probably tell already, and I also found it interesting how this beautiful garment is depicted in different films on the silver screen...which is why this is Part 8 of 'Qipao Love'. Though this is a long list of beautiful films featuring the Qipao, each is unique with its own perception and agenda...I must also confess that some I have watched whilst others are on my to-watch list...but they are all films that I think are worth a gander for many reason. So here goes.....

'Love is a Many Splendored Thing' (1955)
Here is a video clip of the love story between mixed heritage doctor Han Suyin played by Jennifer Jones and Mark Elliot (by William Holden) that runs to the song 'Love is a Many Splendore Thing' [Youtube Link] ...one for my to-watch list as I am certainly intrigued by how it began the Qipao trend in the West!
Links: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Is_a_Many-Splendored_Thing_(film)

'Love is a Many Splendored Thing' (1955) - Source 

'Kong Zhong Xiao Jie' (Air Hostess - 1959)
Air Hostess (1959) - Source
What I found interesting about 'Air Hostess' is how the film managed to capture a period of technological modernity towards the end of 1950s Hong Kong and focus on the changing roles of women as well as fashion. It was the first film produced in colour by MP&GI of Hong Kong cinema, and the vibrancy of differing daily 50s wear from tightly fitted Qipao to flouncy full circled or narrowing pencil dresses is indeed a feast for the eyes! A rather refreshing film that follows three women who deviate from the traditional route of marriage to become a part of the modern workforce, choose what they want despite stereotypes and enjoy newly found independence through flying in the air. Below is a video clip of lead actress Grace Chang singing 'Oh Calypso' (in Mandarin with English subtitles) from the film and also a link to the full movie!
*To watch 'Air Hostess' in full with English subtitles: www.viki.com/channels/12165-air-hostess

Hong Kong Cinema production 'Kong Zhong Xiao Jie' (Air Hostess - 1959) with Grace Chang, Julie Yeh and So Fung
Source: www.brns.com/pages4/drama259 

'The world of Suzie Wong' (1960)
Scandalous in the sense that the main role Suzie Wong happens to be a prostitute who falls in love with a Westerner, but heart warming in the sense it was an old fashioned Cinderella love story and glamorous because of the array of beautifully fitted Qipao dresses worn by lead actress Nancy Kwan!
'The World of Suzie Wong' (1960) - Source: www.ferdyonfilms.com/the-world-of-suzie-wong-1960 
'The World of Suzie Wong' (1960) - Source 

'Raise the Red Lantern' (1991)
[Actress: Gong Li]
This was probably the first Zhang Yimou film I watched and the first time I saw the beautiful Gong Li on the television screen...but it is also a gripping film I have been unable to forget ever since. The story of a young girl who becomes a concubine in 1920s China and a film that explores the value of a female in traditional Chinese society...intense and not one for the faint hearted.
Source: kirasan.kenne-ich.net/red_lantern 

'Center Stage - Ruan Ying Lu' (1992)
Famous 1920-30s Shanghai actress Ruan Ying Lu
A film that is part biography; in telling the short life of legendary 1920-30s silent film actress Ruan Ying Lu, who was named the Chinese Garbo and acted in over 20 highly regarded films before taking her own life at a tender age of 24 years (1910-1935)...and part documentary. Maggie Cheung plays the starlet Ruan Ying Lu in the film, but also narrates and answers an interview in what she as an actress herself thinks about the great Shanghai golden age siren. Having read mixed reviews from sheer brilliance of perception to failed documentary claims, it is still a film I wish to track down and watch as Maggie Cheung simply looks ravishing in all 1930s gloried Qipao style from the photos as well as trailers I have seen so far...



'In the Mood for Love' (2000) 
[Actress: Maggie Cheung]
It is difficult to sing praises for such a well known film, but I can't tell you enough...how much I adore the 23 Qipao dresses that Maggie Cheung dons in the film! A visual feast and a suspense of emotional high...it is a simple story of people in love and torn between desires as well as choices...but it holds me to silence every single time I watch this film. The beautifully restricting high collar holds her to the principles she values, the pretty floral prints are a dream of better days and the figure hugging silhouette of the Qipao tells of a desire to seek perfection as well as beauty...and I have not even begun with the handbags or decor. It is not really a film about the plot, it is more an experience of walking slowly through a gallery of art pieces...intensely beautiful...definitely take a little gander and see what you think!



'2046' (2004)
[Actresses: Carina Lau, Zhang Ziyi, Maggie Cheung and Gong Li]
Like watching fragments of memory and imagination mixed into the same slot...the characters weave their own life and desires into form. This is the aftermath of the unconsumated affair of 'In the Mood for Love', where the male lead Chow enters into three different relationships and later reveals a futuristic figment of his imagination...emotional, fun and illogical, but shot beautifully in the quirky Wong Kar-Wai way.
Zhang ZiYi as Bai Ling in '2046' (2004)

Lust, Caution (2007) 
[Actress: Tang Wei]
Lead actress Tong Wei is transformed from a girl into a lady through a total of 27 different Qipao dresses in the film 'Lust, Caution' (2007). A wartime thriller with spies, missions, love, sex, loyalty and betrayal... contradictory and scandalous...but artfully directed by Ang Lee and winner of the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival.
Source: www.nainai-fashion.com/2012/cheongsam-in-chinese-films 

'Shanghai' (2010)
[Actress: Gong Li]
With John Cusack and Chow Yun Fat as the leading men, beautiful Gong Li delivers a captivating performance in 'Shanghai' (2010). A thriller that was meant to be set in war washed Shanghai in 1941 (WW2), where an American agent seek to uncover the truth of a murder but ends up involved with a wealthy war lord and his wife...



'The Flowers of War' (2011)
[Actress: Ni Ni]
Based on the 1937 'Rape of Nanking', the film tells the brutal story when Japan invaded China...but the focus is on the women and children of war. The good, the bad and the beautiful in humankind can be seen in this intensely gripping film, which made me gasp in excitement for the visually stunning costumes and drove me to tears in silent emotions that applauded the bravery of the forgotten unsung heroes towards the end. Thoroughly recommended though not for the faint hearted...a Zhang Yimou film that was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and deserves much more than it got. Below is a video clip from my favourite part of the film...

Source: leopardandlipstick.blogspot.co.uk/the-flowers-of-war 
The Flowers of War (2011) by Zhang Yi Mou.
Source: http://news.cultural-china.com/20111230094025.html 

'Dangerous Liaison' (2012)
[Actresses: Zhang Ziyi and Cecilia Yip]
A remake of the 1782 French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, but this time the story is set in the decadent 1930s 'Paris of the East' that is Shanghai...definitely one on my to-watch list after all the beautiful costumes spotted in the photos as well as trailer, and the picture painted by the glorious reviews so far...


'The Grandmaster' (2013)
[Actress: Zhang Ziyi]
Having just been released in parts of the world, Wong Kar-Wai's 'Grandmaster' (2013) will be one to catch in the cinemas or on DVD with a male companion...as it continues to surprise box office figures and plans for festival appearances create a promising image. An action orientated  film based on the life of Kung Fu (martial arts) master Ip Man during the 1930s to 1950s. Mixed reviews so far and claims that it is packed with stunning stunts but also visually pleasing Qipao dresses...an intriguing one to anticipate perhaps!



Apologies for another long post my lovely darlings and I hope you enjoyed it! We are drawing near to the end of the 'Qipao Love' series I am afraid and the next post will be the finale...but I can reveal that it will be a crafty post I promised for some time! Perhaps next year we will have a 'Qipao Love 2' series, but for now I must say a very big THANK YOU for all your loving support of the series so far! It has been a lovely journey to share with you and I really have loved hearing what you think about the Qipao series. As we have been encroaching into March I am looking forward to spring, and tonight I am heading to a special 'In-Salon Vintage Styling' event at the Painted Lady which I can't wait to tell you all about soon! Have a fabulous weekend my lovely darlings!

Until the next time,
May xx

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My 1920s inspired Qipao (Cheongsam) look...Part 3 of the 'Qipao Love' series!


  1. There isn't a bad shot of ANYTHING in this post - GORGEOUS, all of it! Love the long coats with the fur collars in the Flowers of War section, too. I will definitely be checking out some of these movies, and thank you for the thorough list. Hope your weekend is wonderful, May - Tanya

  2. I'd always had an interest in qipaos and thought they were marvelous, but your weeks of stellar, detailed posts on them have turned me into a die-hard fan. I'd love to see any (or all!) of these great sounding films.

    Wishing you a gorgeous, relaxing weekend, darling gal!
    ♥ Jessica

  3. I really want to watch Air Hostess! I'll get back to you once I've watched it :D
    I am a huge fan of the Pan Am series and just anything to do with air hostesses in the 60s! The film looks like it has some brilliant outfit inspiration too :D

  4. I really wanna watch all these now!

    Is it bad that I hate Nancy Kwan for being so beautiful? SIGH SIGH SIGH! I don't know whether I will start wearing a qipao, being a Chinese I feel like I should but never had the occasion to! Maybe when I get married :) I have some qipao-style modern dress but it's not quite the same hey? :)


  5. The beauty of qipao brings out so many personas in these TV actresses on screen. N versatile for all kinds of occasions. Even I was impressed to read about Jennifer Jones. Women could fight for their rights and beliefs even in their cheongsam back in those movies..like flower of wars and Gong li movies. Speak of Women with Power!

    Issa x

  6. Hi there,

    If you have the time, I'd really appreciate it if you could pop by my blog where I'm hosting a $50 gift card giveaway for my little vintage etsy store:
    Hill Side Story
    Hill Side Story on FB

    xx Aliya

  7. Wow - I become more fascinated by the Qipao every time I visit your blog. It really has had some very glamourous moments on the silver screen over the years!

  8. wow especially flowers of war seems really worth seeing only for the breathtaking costumes! love those patterns and the fur trimmed colorful coats! stunning!


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♥ May xx
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