The Cheongsam (cantonese "long robe") known too as Qipao (mandarin "banner robe") has its origins in the beginning of the Qing dynasty in 1644 under the manchu rule. They were called Qiren (banner people) because they ruled with the Eight Banner System. Each banner represented a location, etnia or heritage. Long story short: the chinese who lived under this administrative system had to wear a robe cutted in one piece with a circle as a collar and slits to move freely in the horse, the Changpao, although women attire mixed with Ming Dynasty clothes. Years passed, things evolved, new western currents entered China after the Opium War and the Qing dynasty fell in 1911. Shangai became what was called "the Great Athens of China", the 20s entered and women liberated, they cutted their hair, ended the foot binding tradition and adapted the one piece changpao worn by men for themselves and, although students were who encouraged the trend, were high class women who made them fashionable, celebrities and socialités like the First Lady Madamme Wellington Koo who worn cheongsams with lace pants and promoted the local materials. Little by little through the 20s and #30s the cheongsam was embracing the women bodies more and more, the slits grew higher, rich motifs adorned them and lace pants and trousers were discarded so now high heels were visible but was a must though to mantain the traditional neck and buttons. So in the 40s cheongsams has become meaning of sophistication and essence of chinese pride and feminity. Hollywood, with its darks and lights, helped to give an idealized vision of China in occident with films like Limehouse Blues with Anna May Wong or the World of Suzy Wong with Nancy Kwan. Sadly, on the verge of the comunism, cheongsams were seen as something of high class and a political misbehavior and its popularity decreased. Nonetheless the emigrants from Shangai who went to Hong Kong, among them skilled tailors, kept making them and cheongsams survived.