Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation

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Overview

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.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times - Susan Salter Reynolds

It is clear from these pages how frequently the world of fashion has turned to China for inspiration.

The Journal of Asian Studies - Robert Culp

Finnane has produced an impressive history of modern Chinese fashion and much more. It will be a vital cores text for students of Chinese cultural history for decades to come.

Business History Review - Elisabeth Koll

Changing Clothes in China is beautifully produced, offering readers a splendid visual presentation of its rich content.

American Historical Review - Louise Edwards

This book makes important contributions to scholarship in the areas of both history and fashion.

Los Angeles Times
It is clear from these pages how frequently the world of fashion has turned to China for inspiration.

— Susan Salter Reynolds

The China Beat

[A] beautifully illustrated book... with delightful analysis of how gender, class,and nationalism have influenced Chinese fashions through the ages.

The Journal of Asian Studies
Finnane has produced an impressive history of modern Chinese fashion and much more. It will be a vital cores text for students of Chinese cultural history for decades to come.

— Robert Culp

Business History Review
Changing Clothes in China is beautifully produced, offering readers a splendid visual presentation of its rich content.

— Elisabeth Koll, Harvard Business School

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231143509
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 1/17/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

AcknowlegmentsList of Illustrations

1. Introduction: Fashion, History, Nation2. Ways of Seeing3. Fashions in Late Imperial China4. Soldiers and Citizens 5. The Fashion Industry in Shanghai6. Qipao China7. Her Brother's Clothes8. The New Look in the New China9. Dressed to Kill in the Cultural Revolution10. Breaking with the Past11. Conclusion: Fashion, History, Time

List of Chinese CharactersTechnical NotesBibliographyIndex

Columbia University Press

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