SHANGHAI'S tourism authorities are inviting expats to experience the city's qipao culture by launching its first cheongsam-themed tourism routes and opening a vintage photo exhibit of the traditional dress at the Bund yesterday.
The cheongsam, or qipao, is a body-hugging one-piece Chinese dress for women.
The routes string together 40-plus spots including historical buildings, museums, cheongsam-making stores, water towns, hotels and streets that are tranquil, elegant and rich in history.
To learn the origin and evolution of Shanghai qipao, visit the Shanghai Municipal Archives and the Shikumen (stonegate) Open House Museum.
To purchase a hand-made qipao, come to the Changle Road section between Shaanxi and Maoming roads and the Dongjiadu area, where qipaos in exquisite flower patterns are created by tailors.
To pick up a nostalgic memory, wear your favorite qipao dresses and wander around Xintiandi, Wukang Road, the Bund and Duolun Road where shikumen (stone-gate) houses are hidden away. They are good locations for shooting photos for a chic, vintage feel.
Wearing a qipao was once a fashion craze in Shanghai and the dress is deemed a gem of the haipai (Shanghai style) culture.
"That piece of memory is deeply rooted in the minds of Shanghainese," said Zhou Zhuguang, deputy director of the Shanghai Apparel Institute.
The history of qipao can be dated back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when Manchu women typically wore a one-piece dress.
In the 1920s, the qipao was made fashionable by socialites and gained popularity quickly in the city.
The display at the Shanghai Municipal Archives takes visitors through a journey of time with more than 100 precious old photos and qipaos. The display will run through the end of December at 9 Zhongshan Road E2.
A common qipao involves some 3,000 to 5,000 stitches, with some exquisite ones taking 8,000 to 9,000 stitches.