San Francisco Mayor London Breed, wearing a bright-red classical Chinese cheongsam dress, joined the Chinese community here on Sunday to kick off the annual Fourth San Francisco Cheongsam Culture Month.
Breed said the traditional Chinese cheongsam dress, or cheongsam, which was once part of many Chinese women's daily wardrobes, highlights the beauty, elegance and empowerment of women in the city of San Francisco that stands for equality and diversity.
"Tonight is about feeling beautiful ... about celebrating not only fashion but the history of fashion, because we know that cheongsam originally started as men's attire and transformed into what we see today," she told hundreds of people, including women who were wearing various styles of cheongsam, a fashionable and elegant traditional Chinese form-fitting dress.
"Women took over. We took over the power of fashion, and we elevated and created something absolutely beautiful," Breed said about the evolution of the cheongsam.
The San Francisco Cheongsam Culture Month, which was established by Sunny Shen, founder of Qifengtang, a San Francisco-based organization advocating Chinese cheongsam culture in the United States, has been held for the fourth year in a row since 2016. The late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee proclaimed April 14 the San Francisco Chinese Cheongsam Day in 2017.
Shen said Breed is the first African-American female mayor of San Francisco who wore cheongsam to showcase the elegant beauty of the traditional Chinese dress, as well as the inclusiveness of San Francisco as an international metropolitan city advocating harmony among communities of diversified cultures.
"We as Chinese Americans want to share the soft power of the Chinese heritage with the unique Chinese dress as a language of communication," she said.
Chinese Deputy Consul General in San Francisco Ren Faqiang said the centuries-long history of the cheongsam demonstrated the openness, inclusiveness and mutual respect among various ethnic groups in the "big family" of the Chinese nation.
"We hope all other countries in the world, including the United States, would show their respect for the Chinese nation and the diversified forms of their culture such as dress and cuisine, as well as China's political system and its path of development," Ren said.
This year's cheongsam culture month aligned its celebration with the theme of promoting Chinese state banquet-style food and cuisine culture among the American public.
David Smith, mayor emeritus of Newark City in Alameda County, Northern California, said he has been involved with Chinese restaurant undertakings for many years.
He said the combination of celebrating the Cheongsam Culture Month with Chinese food works.
"It can be a theme of many banquets and gatherings in the future ... I think that would be a very healthy link, and a very good positive link actually going forward," Smith said.
The Cheongsam Culture Month will also launch a week-long campaign to shoot the Global Chinese Cheongsam Images Scroll (Long Scroll) for 2019, a long banner featuring stylized calligraphy-like images of women around the world wearing the elegant Cheongsam dress.
In 2019, over 48,000 women from the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand participated in the Long Scroll program and the scroll's length has now grown to more than 20,000 meters, said Liu Bing, founder and chief producer of the Long Scroll program.