Audiences were captivated by a fantastic display of Chinese Qipao dresses at the sell-out fashion show and exhibition From Shanghai with Love. This was a unique 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe event organised by the Donghua Edinburgh Centre for Creative Industries. It is a collaboration between the Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation (SCF) at Donghua University and the Confucius Institute for Scotland at the University of Edinburgh.
The stunning Playfair Library at the University of Edinburgh provided a magnificent backdrop. Audience members gathered around beautifully preserved traditional Qipao at the exhibition specially curated by the Shanghai Museum of Textile and Costume. The oldest pieces included a brilliant red damask silk embroidered robe and a bold orange satin dragon emblazoned robe from the Late 19th Century. More fitted, contemporary Qipao were from the 1930’s and 1940’s when Shanghai was known as the “Paris of the East”.
All eyes were on the catwalk as the show began with upbeat music. The first collection was Shanghai style Qipao for the modern business woman – long, elegant cream and gold Qipao. Delicate design details included the traditional Chinese dragon and phoenix. A key theme for the fashion show was the traditional Chinese five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. The earth designs were a brilliant yellow, a colour associated with prestige in China. Fabulous fire designs included flames lapping from the bottom of a long, slim dress and red velvety, figure-hugging Qipao with detailed Chinese designs.
The SCF Graduation Design Show from this year’s bachelor degree graduates showed off wild creativity. A large, exaggerated, chequered trouser suit and a red swimsuit on top of a cream knitted winter outfit made the audience sit up and ponder the extraordinary possibilities of fashion.
Finally we moved to the futuristic designs featuring new technology. Highly wearable silky peach Qipao gowns were accentuated with colour changing panels. The stage darkened as we were taken on a journey to the galaxy of luminous Qipao – flowing, swirling dresses with luminous turquoise, curly wires controlled from a switch in a handbag. Healthcare and fashion blended in designs with inbuilt devices to monitor the temperature and humidity of the wearer’s breasts. The finale was an ensemble of butterfly transforming Qipao. Special colour-changing yarn in the Qipao changed from grey to pink after being heated. The audience was awed.
The students of SCF created their own imaginative interpretations of the Qipao with influence from their Chinese and international teachers. Some of the designs were created in cooperation with SCF’s partners including various Qipao companies. A few of the designs used sustainable, environmentally friendly materials. The College encourages the students to develop creative fashion design using technology, material innovation as well as drawing on cultural heritage
Thank you to audience members who provided us with excellent feedback.
Photos by Through the Curtains Productions, Creative Team & Models by Colours Agency