Transformative Chic – The Everlasting Cheongsam Exhibition

Venue: 4/F Pao Galleries, Hong Kong Arts Centre 
Date: 2021.10.29 - 2021.11.13
Time: 10:00–20:00 
Price: Free admission 

Transformative Chic - The Everlasting Cheongsam Exhibition


⦿ Participating Cheongsam Designers:
Blind by JW | Cantosoul | Grace CHOI | Polly HO | Ranee KOK | Janko LAM | Kenny LI | Mountain YAM | Mary YU


⦿ Curatorial Statement:
People often attempt to preserve Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), yet ICH, being the crystallization of human life experience, evolves alongside humanity itself. By putting ICH into the contemporary context one can contest its fluidity, vitality and adaptability through a series of multi-arts experiments and showcases, to allow us to appreciate ICH to be more than just a carrier of humanity’s past but also a gateway towards humanity’s future. 

Only change is eternal. 

Just like any other thriving cultural heritage, cheongsam remains fluid, and has become the subject and source of new inspiration and creativity. Its three key elements – the mandarin collar, the flower button and the split – are unique features that can be used to create infinite mix-and-match combinations with fabrics such as Cantonese silk and other materials, giving cheongsam different styles and shapes that serve a wide spectrum of functions and occasions. 

Cheongsam is one of the most fascinating ICH entities found in Hong Kong. Also known as “qipao”, cheongsam originated from the traditional Manchu costume which was introduced to China nation-wide after the establishment of the Qing dynasty and continued to evolve during the Republic era. First worn as a daily unisex dressing with slight differences in cutting and style for the two genders, cheongsam gradually gained recognition as a national symbol favoured by many cultural figures in the Republic, such as HU Shi (胡適) and ZHANG Ailing (張愛玲). Particularly, in the case of ZHANG, her style of cheongsam was later developed into the Shanghai-style which combined features of both the traditional Chinese and European tailoring that highlights the body contour of the Chinese women. 

Later on, wars and social unrests in the mainland China resulting from the Japanese invasion during World War II and the Civil War drove many intellects such as ZHANG, as well as a lot of Chinese tailors to the colonial Hong Kong to seek refuge. It was in Hong Kong where cheongsam continued to serve as a symbol representing the Chinese identity in this culturally hybrid city. The influence of cheongsam is so profound that to this day, Hong Kong is the only place in the Greater China where cheongsam has been adopted as school uniform for female students. Under the influence of many internationally award-winning Hong Kong movies such as In the Mood for Love (花樣年華) by WONG Kar-wai (王家衛) and Lust, Caution (色戒) by LEE Ang (李安), cheongsam is still a fashionable formal dressing as well as a symbol of femininity in Hong Kong. 

The magic of cheongsam lies in its simple cutting and stunning outcome which highlights each wearer’s individuality. Cheongsam has evolved over generations; it is still evolving in Hong Kong in the good hands of different contemporary designers, who are working beyond the realm of contemporary cheongsam, seeing in cheongsam the muse for endless inspirations for innovative designs. 

This exhibition serves as a window into the unique charm and transformative world of cheongsam – an ICH entity and a symbol of the culturally rich city of Hong Kong. It is also a showcase of the creativity of Hong Kong fashion designers who have revitalized this ‘timeless’ cultural icon and are making it relevant to the contemporary world. Not only has cheongsam survived through history, but it has continued to become the trendy fashion of our daily life in Hong Kong and across the globe.

Hong Kong Arts Centre


⦿ There will be a cheongsam pop-up store at the exhibition venue during the exhibition period.
Visitors can try on and buy the cheongsams and cheongsam-related products designed by the nine designers while enjoying the exhibition!


⦿ Presented by

Hong Kong Arts Centre 

Special Thanks:

Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Toronto)

Venue Supported by

Haw Par Music

Support Hong Kong Arts Centre 

 To reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, the presenter have implemented the following precautionary measures:-

  1. Visitors are required to provide personal information or scan "LeaveHomeSafe" venue QR code before admission.
  2. Visitors are required to measure body temperature before admission. Visitors with normal body temperature below 37.5 degrees Celsius (as indicated by the temperature detector used by presenter) would be allowed access;
  3. Visitors are required to clean their hands with hand sanitiser before admission;
  4. Visitors are required to wear their own mask inside the venue.

The presenter will review the situation and adjust the measures if necessary. We appreciate your understanding.
The presenter reserve the rights of final decision on the arrangement.

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