Shanghai Glamour: New Women 1910s-40s
Shanghai Glamour explores how Shanghai women and their fashionable dress epitomized the seduction and mystery of this legendary city as it was modernizing in the early 20th century. Shanghai was established as a treaty port in the nineteenth century and became a major modern metropolis by the 1920s, internationally known as “the Paris of the East.”
The city’s identity was deeply associated with its women and their fashion. Their dresses and manners textured the city’s modern life and became the emblems of Shanghai modernity. Beyond the glamour, the changing styles of female clothing and the controversial images of modern women also manifested the social and political anxieties in the transitional period that ushered in new gender roles.
The exhibition, guest-curated by scholar Mei Mei Rado, features 12 exquisite outfits from 1910s to 1940s on loan from the China National Silk Museum in Hangzhou – on view for the first time in the United States – and three dresses from prominent private New York collections. They will be presented alongside over 50 accessories, posters, lifestyle magazines, and period images. Focusing on the unique Shanghai allure represented by women of different roles and their dresses, the exhibition examines how Shanghai women initiated styles that expressed their identities in relation to the city and how each archetype of femininity came to be associated with a certain characteristic Shanghai look. The show will describe styles from various corners of Shanghai society — the student, socialite, courtesan, movie star, artist, dancing girl, and housewife — to reconstruct the social and cultural pulses behind the many facets of Shanghai glamour.
Curatorial Advisor: Dorothy Ko
Guest Curator: Mei Mei Rado
Exhibition Design: Rebecca Shea
Valerie Steele (Fashion Institute of Technology); Harold Koda (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute); Dorothy Ko (Barnard College); Christina Moon (Parsons The New School for Design); Jason Sun (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Image credit: Cover of Ling Long magazine, no. 1, 1931. Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries