The Minneapolis Institute of Art held its annual “Art in Bloom” last month. Next month, San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum will present “Flower Power” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco. The exhibit will feature pan-Asian artworks that reveal the “powerful language of flowers across times and cultures.” The exhibit begins June 23 and runs through Oct. 1.
Any mention of the phenomenal Summer of Love of 1967 and what immediately pops into mind? Images from the counter-culture San Francisco scene: hippies with long hair blowing in the wind, dancing in Golden Gate Park and/or tripping out on the streets of the Haight-Ashbury district. Some might even have flowers in their hair! So it is fitting that 50 years later, “Flower Power” is celebrated in the form of an art exhibition that “invites audiences to explore the lasting appeal and surprising stories of six flowers as distinctive as their blooms,” as stated in the Asian Art Museum’s press release.
The elegant qipao has a distinctive man- darin collar and slitted skirt that reaches mid- thigh. The traditional Chinese women’s national dress is an imagery of China made popular by Hollywood in the 1920s and 1930s.
The qipao, also known as the cheongsam, originated in Manchurian China during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Qipao was originally a long, wide, loose- tting garment. Legend has it that a sherwoman made it more practical and less cumbersome by making it slimmer, but with slits at the sides to en- able her to tuck the front of the customized “qipao” in. At the same time, legend said the young emperor woke from a dream that said a sherwoman in a qipao would become his consort. He sent his men out to nd the sherwoman and the sherwoman became the emperor’s wife.
Since then, Manchu women copied the sherwoman’s qipao style. With the fall of the Qing Dynasty and great social change, tailors found a way to revamp the qipao. The waist was nipped, dress shortened, sleeves also were shortened and the entire qipao was slimmed down to hip the curves. One of the socialites of the time, the in uential Soong
Ching-ling, wore the gure-hugging gown and made it the fashion de rigeur for women all over China – the symbol of modernity.
The qipao was phased out with the dawn of the Cultural Revolution, which dictated the uniformity of the unisex Mao suit. After the Cultural Revolution, western in uence increased and the qipao was only worn at formal occasions.
In recent years, it has made a comeback in mainstream fashion. In 2007, the Shang- hai Cheongsam Salon was created to pro- mote the elegance of the national dress. The 2013 Beijing Fashion Week had a number of pieces inspired by the qipao. And fashion houses such as Dior, Gucci, Lauren, Versace and Vuitton had been incorporating ele- ments of the qipao on their runways. Could a qipao revival be close behind? ♦
By Michael Anthony | 09/16/16 This article by Michael Anthony was originally published in MINNPOST and is being reprinted with their permission
Photo by Cory Weaver - San Francisco Opera's production of "Dream of the Red Chamber."
“Who would have thought that this little group from Minnesota would have generated a major world premiere? It’s unbelievable.”
Kevin Smith, president of the Minnesota Orchestra, was speaking to 119 guests at a banquet last Friday, Sept. 9, in the suburban town of Millbrae just south of San Francisco. The banquet, during which an army of waiters delivered a seemingly limitless round of Chinese delicacies – deep-fried milk, sea cucumber, bird’s nest soup, Peking duck – was a prelude to the main event the next evening, the premiere of “The Dream of the Red Chamber,” an operatic treatment by the San Francisco Opera of one of the landmarks of Chinese literature with music by Bright Sheng and libretto by playwright David Henry Hwang.