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Qipao

Qipao (旗袍 qpo and pronounced roughly chee-pow) is the Mandarin Chinese name for the body-hugging, high-necked dress (sleeves optional) fashionable in the Chinese world between the 1920s and 1960s, and still popular on formal occasions to this day.

The qipao was not originally Chinese, but introduced by the Manchu invaders who established the Qing Dynasty and implemented laws that required the populace to adopt Manchu clothing and hairstyles instead of the traditional Chinese hanfu. The qipao was originally loose-fitting; the high-slit, body-hugging dress with which the name is now associated was invented in Shanghai in the 1920s. In English, the same garment is often called a cheongsam, a loan-word derived from the Cantonese pronunciation of the Shanghainese name for the dress. The qipao is a woman's dress; the male equivalent of the qipao is called Changshan (长衫).

In popular culture, nothing spells "Chinese" like a qipao, so if a Chinese girl or a Dragon Lady shows up in a work, the chances are high that she'll be wearing one. The qipao, or at least a dress cut like it, is also occasionally worn by non-Chinese women, as its tight fit and slit up the side ramp up the sexiness of the character while still being relatively modest. Almost always used as Fanservice.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Naruto: Sakura Haruno wears a qipao, and Tenten wears a pink qipao blouse before the timeskip in the series. In 'Road to Sakura', Hinata is made to don one as well.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!: Ku Fei and Kaede both are fond of qipao.
  • Darker Than Black: Misaki wears one with a slit very high up the side at a party thrown by a former high school classmate. Being more used to understated outfits, she feels embarrassingly exposed in it.
  • Rosario + Vampire has the girls dressing up when they're trying to get support for the new Chinese character's polygamy idea.
    • Moka also wears a white qipao in an episode of the anime's second season, in the grounds of Fanservice (as she was under an hypnotic trance).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Vivian Wong wears a skimpy yellow qipao. So skimpy, in fact, that Mr. Digital Paint Bucket added Modesty Shorts in the English dub.
  • Shenhua of Black Lagoon loves wearing these, though she's Taiwanese to be precise.
  • The outfits of the main characters from Saint Beast are actually based off of this.
  • Tao Jun, Ren's older sister, wears a qipao in Shaman King. Fitting, as they're actually from China.
  • Cyborg009 has Francoise wear one while working at Chang's restaurant, sparking humorous reactions from her coworkers.
  • Ikki Tousen:
    • Kakouen Myousai wears a white qipao as her battle clothes.
    • Hakufu gets to be seen in one while waitressing in a Chinese restaurant. She also wore a blue one after being awakened from her coma by Ukitsu's Heroic Sacrifice and returning to the battlefield to fight Sousou alongside Ryuubi.
  • Wang Liu Mei is best known for wearing qipao dresses in Mobile Suit Gundam 00
  • Sumire from The World God Only Knows wears the qipao of her escaped mother.
  • Ixpellia of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has this as her most common outfit.
  • Liang Qi from Canaan wears these, specially a red one.
  • Every once in a while, Kagura from Gintama is dressed in one.
  • In Ranma this is the standard fashion for Chinese Amazon Shampoo, as well as worn occasionally by other characters like Akane and female!Ranma.
  • Kazahaya is forced to wear one as part of a school popularity/beauty contest in Drug & Drop. As Rikuo notes, no matter how much Kazahaya tries, he just can't manage to hide those long legs of his in that getup.
  • Stratos4: The girls all wear these at their jobs as waitresses. The skirt portion is so short they barely even cover their undergarments.
  • One Piece: Boa Hancock wears a purple one. In that case the exposing-leg part is justified because it helps her fighting style.
  • Hong Kong in Axis Powers Hetalia wears a normal changshan, but his girl self wears a short qipao that shows off her legs.
  • Shiuchon (Suzie in the dub) of Digimon Tamers wears a qipao blouse.
  • A 3WA trouble consultant named Beryl in the Dirty Pair OVAs wears one.
  • In the first Cardcaptor Sakura movie, Syaoran's older sisters all wear these. (And it is a way of telling the four apart, apparently.)
  • Yukina of Senko No Night Raid is shown wearing a qipao in a lot of official art. While this kind of makes sense given the series' Chinese setting, she never wears one within the actual series.
  • In Transformers: Kiss Players, Shaoshao Li wears one a lot.
  • In Shakugan no Shana, Shana is shown wearing one in a flashback to her past. She complained that it was too impractical to fight in, but Wilhelmina told her not to make excuses, and that she's seen many warriors wear one.

    Comic Books 
  • Les Innommables: Alix frequently wears a qipao, and so do the prostitutes at the Purple Lotus.
  • An old Archie comic has Veronica wearing a qipao, and getting furious when everyone comments on her "ripped dress".
  • Ninjette wears one in Empowered #4, at the Capeys Awards.
  • The DC Comics villainess Roulette wears one as her signature outfit, despite being white.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Some of the outfits Mulan wore in the Direct-to-Video film Mulan II resemble this. Other times, she would be either wearing the training uniform and/or her battle armor or various types of hanfu dresses.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Nancy Kwan famously wore one in The World of Suzie Wong.
  • The two Chinese women who show up at the party in Breakfast at Tiffany's wear qipao. Another guest tells one of them "Hey, honey, your skirt's split there."
  • James Bond: In Dr. No, Ursula Andress and Zena Marshall are both seen wearing qipao.
  • Maggie Cheung in In the Mood for Love. Not only is she wearing a qipao in every single scene, it's always a different one.
  • 2046 also by Wong Kar Wai is pretty much just the main character reminiscing with how great Maggie Cheung looked in her qipao, complete with long lingering shots of her standing in halls and walking in slow motion.
  • In Kill Bill, Sofie Fatale wears a garment resembling a qipao, but it is actually much closer to the man's changshan. This may have been deliberate to suggest that she's a lesbian.
  • In Lust, Caution, Wong Chia-chi wears a qipao as part of her bored upper-class woman persona. In one scene, she goes to the tailor in the company of Mr. Yee to have a new one fitted, but it turns out to be slightly too tight. The result does not leave Mr. Yee indifferent.
  • The title character of House of Harmony (played by Maggie Q) wears a qipao as a matter of course, except on one occasion, when she put on a Western-style dress in an unsuccessful attempt to blend in.
  • In So I Married an Axe Murderer Nancy Travis wears a red qipao to a dinner on her honeymoon night with Mike Myers.
  • Mary-Jane Watson wears a qipao during a social occasion in the film version of Spider-Man, confusing a great deal of the audience. The juxtaposition is explained somewhat by the fact she wears it at a "World Unity Fair."
  • Many characters in Flower Drum Song since it's set in 1950's Chinatown, San Francisco and the characters are either Chinese immigrants or children of Chinese immigrants.
  • In Brick, the Femme Fatale Laura Dannon wears a rather striking red one in an early party scene.
  • Cho Chang wore a qipao-style dress at the Yule Ball in the film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
  • In the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid, Dre's mother dons a qipao on the occasion the Qi Xi festival.
  • Willie Scott sports one at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

    Literature 
  • The protagonists of Shanghai Girls, being fashion-conscious upper-class young women, make a big deal of wearing qipao in the latest styles.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Anna Wu wore this in an episode of Chuck, to impress her very traditional parents.
  • In The Man From UNCLE episode "The Hong Kong Shilling Affair", Heavenly Cortelle wears a qipao.
  • Mele in Juken Sentai Gekiranger wears a green one (aptly, as she's effectively a chameleon monster in human form).
  • In Pushing Daisies, Chuck's "aunt" Vivian often wears elegant qipao. Also both Chuck and Olive wear them (along with the Victim of the Week, as well as background characters) in the Chinatown episode.
  • Routinely worn by several of the characters of Serangoon Road, which is set in Singapore in the mid-1960s.

    Music 
  • One of the many outfits that Minori Chihara wears in the Self Producer music video.

    Video Games 
  • Chun Li in Street Fighter II wears a modified version. Among the differences to the traditional kind are short, puffy sleeves, a white obi-like sash lining the waist, and one huge slit on each side (instead of a single slit over one of the legs, making the skirt look more like a cloth on the front and a tail on the back), which allows for more freedom of movement and kicking (and not coincidentally shows off her muscular thighs).
  • One of Morrigan Aensland's favorite Victory Pose outfits in the Darkstalkers series.
  • An outfit for the thief class for females in MapleStory.
  • Guild Wars: Female mesmer clothing in factions.
  • Litchi Faye-Ling from BlazBlue wears a highly Fanservice-riffic version. How? It shows a lot of her curvy legs from the front, and it features Absolute Cleavage, displaying her big boobies. Sweet.
  • Hong Meiling of the Touhou series is also depicted in fanart as wearing one, though in the original ZUN art, she wears a cheongsam with a pair of pants.
  • Part of the 'official' uniform for female Monks in Dragon Quest IX.
  • Anna Williams in Tekken. Oddly Xiaoyu, the actual Chinese Girl of the game, largely eschews ethnic dress, mostly favoring athletic wear instead until 5 when she wears it as her default costume.
  • One of Lei-Fang's costumes in Dead or Alive. Very iconic of the series since almost every attack she does while in it guarantees a Panty Shot.
  • Maggie Chow in Deus Ex wears one to go with her Dragon Lady character.
  • Li Kohran, the Chinese girl of Sakura Wars, is often seen wearing one.
  • Final Fantasy V: Lenna wears one when she becomes the Monk class. Female monks in some other games followed suit. Examples include Ursula from Final Fantasy IV The After Years, and all three female characters in Final Fantasy Dimensions when they are in the Monk class.
  • Shadow Yamato in the Sega CD version of Eternal Champions. She's a ninja, by the way.
  • Shenmue 2: Xiuying Hong.
  • In Perfect Dark, Joanna Dark dons a qipao with a red dragon print in preparation for a formal event, as seen here (spoilers).
  • In Resident Evil 4, Ada Wong fights zombies in an incredibly tight qipao. One wonders how she manages to walk without falling in it, let alone pull some of the stunts she does.
  • Marilyn Sue from Akatsuki Blitzkampf fights in a gold qipao with very high slits running up either side. This doesn't pose much of a problem for her during fights, since her style emphasises powerful jabs, chops and palm strikes over kicks.
  • Occasionally on winning, Mei-Fang in Arcana Heart changes costume into a Qipao.
  • Fumi in Devil Survivor 2.
  • Lilly Satou dresses up in one of these on her first date with Hisao in her route in Katawa Shoujo.
  • Mei Ying, the female lead in Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb wears a pink qipao for much of the third and fourth sections of the game.
  • Flare and Rayea in Panel de Pon.
  • In Lost Horizon, Kim wears the shorter, shirt-like version over trousers. (The freedom of movement is probably useful when kicking people.) Other women seen in Hong Kong have fuller versions.
  • Vera's dress from Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money looks like this, minus the high neck. Bonus points if an Asian Courier is wearing it.
  • Xiaomu in Namco X Capcom, Endless Frontier and Project X Zone wears one with a conveniently-placed zipper for either conservative or fanservice purposes.
  • In Syd of Valis, a "Chinese Dress" with a Cleavage Window is Yuko's first costume upgrade.
  • One of the alternate costumes for Bayonetta in the sequel.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Chinese superheroes Cloud Dragon and Summer Cloud (no relation), from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, both wear qipao as part of their costumes.

    Western Animation 
  • The Venture Bros. - Dr. Girlfriend wears one to pick up an on-the-prowl Rusty as part of a scheme of the Monarch's.
  • Wing, the real life Chinese songstress appearing on the eponymous episode of South Park wears a red qipao.
  • As in the DC Comics, Justice League Unlimited depicts Roulette's standard costume as a qipao.


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alternative title(s): Chinese Dress; Cheongsam
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