Sunday, August 8, 2010
Shanghai & Overalls
Pilippe Perrot. “Introduction,” “Toward a History of Appearances,” and “Clothing’s Old and New Regimes.” Class Reader
Beverley Jackson. “From Long Robes to the Republic.” Reader.
The day started off bright and early as I headed straight to San Francisco at 8:00 AM to go to the Shanghai Museum. I did not know what to expect from the museum, but the section within the exhibit that I impressed me the most was the beginnings (1850–1912), and the high times (1912–1937). My favorite paintings were chromolithography on paper by Yuan Xiutang that captures the different roles and images of women during the 1930s. The paintings, “Moonlight Over Huangpu River,” and “A Prosperous City That Never Sleeps” shows women sitting in a home overseeing the beautiful water and nightlife of Shanghai. These two images showcase the beautiful and majestic life in the city as well as the luxurious clothing. The remaining paintings by Hnag Zhiying, “Southern Beauty,” and “Finishing Orchid Water Bath,” depict the beauty, and elegance found uniquely in women and their role as a mother and wife to their children and husband. These different paintings had different intentions, but relied on the styles of dresses to show the multiple roles that women had in Shanghai such as a wife, mother, and/or sexual subjects. In addition, it also advertises that Shanghai has gorgeous modern women. The different dresses in the paintings demonstrate how clothing is used to visually project an individual’s values and constraints, which is determined by society at the time. Depending on the occasion, the stitching, patterns, and colors became more or less intricate and complex. Thus, I felt these paintings alone demonstrate the evolution of clothing and its representation in society, which were discussed in Pilippe Perrot and Beverley Jackson articles.
This innovative use of clothing is apparent in the millennium today with the returning of the overalls. Oprah Winfrey acknowledges that overalls are extremely frumpy, but can be turned into something fabulous. Overalls use to be considered a worker’s wardrobe because of the numerous pockets for storage. However, with its comeback, it has now moved into high fashion runways and shows with many clothing brands such as Tommy Hilfiger producing them. While walking in the mall, I noticed stores displaying overalls of different lengths, styles, and color all over the place. Better go buy a pair of overalls…after the compact challenge of course.