QIPAO (CHEE’-PAU): a classic female garment that originated in 17th century China. With a high mandarin collar, figure-hugging cut, and slits at either side of a straight skirt, the qipao is unique in its ability to communicate both modesty and sensuousness. A qipao in the traditional style is made entirely by hand and requires labor-intensive manual tailoring techniques to enhance and exhibit every unique female form.

The qipao hails back to the Manchu period and Qing dynasty, when its original loose form served as the silken costume of empresses and royal consorts. In 1930’s Shanghai, the qipao dotted the streets and swayed romantically to swoony music amid opulent saloons and opium dens. In today’s bustling metropolitan China, a woman’s life is considered incomplete until she has had her own qipao commissioned, usually as her wedding dress.

In its modern interpretations, the qipao has become surprising versatile. A qipao mini worn over jeans makes for an edgy street look. A short qipao in light, airy crepe de chine allows for a dreamy, romantic alternative to the sundress. A satin qipao cut just below the knee is perfect for a fashionable night out or a cocktail party. And the tailored full-length qipao in formal heavyweight silk brocade is simply incomparable: Elegant, flawless and shamelessly beautiful, fit for a star at the most discriminating sartorial affair.