I have the nicest friends in the world. They are always giving me little gifts " just because." I am truly lucky and I really value my friendships.
My friend Yo went to Shanghai (for the world expo) and she brought me back this gorgeous strand of pink shell pearls. I love them so much! Thanks Yo! You are awesome!
Its hard to tell in the photo but they are the softest shade of pink. Isn't the clasp gorgeous?
I wore them to an event at the Asian Art Museum earlier this month. The event was called The Shanghai Dress and was a celebration of a traditional style of dress made in Shanghai called a quipao (pronounced chee-pao, which I only mention because I walked around saying key-pao until someone corrected me). You can read more about it here. I was particularly interested in this event because designer Jane Zhu was presenting a talk and fashion show!
Attendees of the event were encouraged to wear their own quipao. I have one made of bright blue satin, from when I was a bridesmaid, but I was afraid I'd be overdressed. Instead I wore a Chinese inspired t-shirt (there is a mandarin collar hidden under all that hair) with a pencil skirt.
The exhibit was small but there was so much to see! I was particularly taken by how much Shanghai art and fashion was influenced by the West from the 1930s up until the communist revolution. It was fascinating to see so many images of Chinese life painted in the style of Monet, Picasso and other Western artists.
Jane Zhu's talk as great! She told us how she she became fascinated with qipao by watching movies like In the Mood for Love and The World of Suzy Wong. Her curiosity lead her to an apprenticeship with a dressmaker Shanghai who taught her the art of making qipao. She produces seasonal collections like any other designer, but those collections really are just "for show." Each qipao she makes for sale is custom-created for the client. She's not so much a fancy-pants designer as a passionate fiber-artist with a taste for vintage style. (Just like us!)
I thought the most interesting part of her talk was when she explained, using a muslin on a form, how meticulously each quipao is measured to match all the of the curves of a woman's body. A perfect qipao will fit like a second skin and not pull, crease, or bulge when you walk, sit, (dance!) or move in any other way. Sometimes the dressmaker will even use a tailor's ham to bend the fabric into the clients exact curves!
Photography of the fashion show was allowed, but without flash. Unfortunately I still don't quite understand the settings on my camera so my flash-less pictures came out like this.
Luckily, the museum set up a flickr page for the event. Follow the link below and enjoy!
We had a wonderful time at this event! Now am inspired to pull out the 1970s qipao pattern I have in my stash and make a go of it. Fit is not my best skill so I'm a little intimidated but it would be a fun long-term project.