Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation

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Columbia University Press, Aug 13, 2013 - Design - 359 pages
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Based largely on nineteenth and twentieth-century representations of Chinese dress as traditional and unchanging, historians have long regarded fashion as something peculiarly Western. But in this surprising, sumptuously illustrated book, Antonia Finnane proves that vibrant fashions were a vital part of Chinese life in the late imperial era, when well-to-do men and women showed a keen awareness of what was up-to-date.

Though foreigners who traveled to China in the early decades of the twentieth century came away with the impression that Chinese dress was simple and monotone, the key features of modern fashion were beginning to emerge, especially in Shanghai. Men in blue gowns donned felt caps and leather shoes, girls began to wear fitted jackets and narrow pants, and homespun garments gave way to machine-woven cloth, often made in foreign lands. These innovations marked the start of a far-reaching vestimentary revolution that would transform the clothing culture in urban and much of rural China over the next half century.

Through Finnane's meticulous research, we are able to see how the close-fitting jacket and high collar of the 1911 Revolutionary period, the skirt and jacket-blouse of the May Fourth era, and the military style popular in the Cultural Revolution led to the variegated, globalized wardrobe of today. She brilliantly connects China's modernization and global visibility with changes in dress, offering a vivid portrait of the complex, subtle, and sometimes contradictory ways the people of China have worn their nation on their backs.

 

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Valery M. Garrett has already said what needed to be said about the evolution of Chinese clothes. Finnane's monograph despite being very absorbing at times overall adds little to the pre-existing scholarship.

Contents

Introduction Fashion History Nation
1
Fashion history and early modernity
6
Fashion and national politics
15
Ways of Seeing
19
Early modern commentaries
20
Qing Costume
25
Footbinding and the status of Chinese civilisation
29
Cultural relativism and vestimentary practices
31
Beijing fashions circa 1925
145
The fashionable qipao
149
Beijing style Shanghai style
152
The problem of the bob
157
Bound breasts and brassieres
161
Modern girls and vestimentary sanctions
167
Her Brothers Clothes
177
Suits and gowns in the Republican era
181

Gender differentiation in cultural relativism
35
Conclusion
40
Fashions in Late Imperial China
43
Signs and symptoms of Ming fashions
44
Changing styles of womens dress
48
the example of Yangzhou
52
Fashion the times and the world
56
Fashions in the 1840s
62
Fashion fiction and modernity
64
Soldiers and Citizens
69
New uniforms for a new army
70
The militarisation of civilian dress
75
Campaigning against the queue
77
The fashionable effects of natural feet and education
82
The permeability of gender boundaries
87
Towards xinhai fashion
92
Citizens of the Republic
95
The Fashion Industry in Shanghai
101
A textile industry for Shanghai
106
Tailoring and technology
110
Sewing machines
116
Knitting and knitting machines
120
Advertising
123
Pictorials and fashion designers
127
The shopping Mecca
134
Qipao China
139
The rise of the qipao
141
Gender dress and nation
188
The drift towards trousers
198
The New Look in the New China
201
Fashioning Chinese socialism
206
National culture in Yu Fengs fashion theory
211
Chinese fashions and world time
215
The scope and limitations of the dress reform campaign
219
Dressed to Kill in the Cultural Revolution
227
Dressing in the spirit of Mao Zedong Thought
229
The Cultural Revolution and military fashions
231
Up to the mountains down to the villages
240
The seventies
244
The Jiang Qing dress
247
Breaking with the Past
257
What women should wear
267
Selling clothes designing fashion
277
International relations and vestimentary events
283
Cultural flows globalisation and regional belonging
286
Conclusion Fashion History Time
291
a vestimentary history
294
Fashion and time
301
List of Chinese Characters
303
Technical Notes
311
Bibliography
313
Index
343
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Antonia Finnane is reader in history in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne. She studied at Sydney University, the Beijing Language Institute, and Nanjing University before completing a Ph.D. in Chinese history at the Australian
National University. She is the author of Speaking of Yangzhou: A Chinese City, 1550-1850, which was awarded the 2006 Joseph Levenson Book Award for a work on pre-1900 China.

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