Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Shanghai Beret Project

To my enormous surprise, I found out that there is more than one "The Beret Project". Apart from what you are reading right now, there is also The Shanghai Beret Project!
Frank Quan, an English-speaking Shanghai gentleman who has written two books on old Shanghai. Not surprising, for as the son of poet Zau Sinmay (Shao Xunmei 邵洵美, 1906-1968), he knows something about that period.
Copied from Historic Shanghai: "It’s a classic Shanghai sight: older Chinese men sporting rakish berets. The iconic headwear of the French never seems to have gone out of style among gentlemen of a certain age in Shanghai, a legacy formed during the period of the French Concession (1849-1945). Some hypothesize that since famous revolutionaries like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara also favored these practical chapeaux, Chinese men may have felt comfortable wearing them post-1949. Patrick Cranley’s been on the streets of Frenchtown and beyond, documenting the laokele (distinguished Shanghai gentlemen) and their berets."
Mr Zhang has always worn a beret in the winter. "It’s just what us old guys do!"
Mr Zhou, 93, is rocking his raspberry beret from his wheelchair!

Mr. Qu, 67. He’s been wearing a beret since he was five, “because I was born in the French Concession and live here still!” He’s been taking photos of historic buildings for more than 20 years and is a big fan of architects Laszlo Hudec and Alexandre Leonard.

Mr. Shen, 75, started wearing a beret about 15 years ago. “I’m an artist, so I thought it was appropriate to wear a beret.”

Mr. Tang, 68. He started wearing a beret about 10 years ago. “Because senior citizens need to keep their heads warm.”

Mr. Xu, 88. He started wearing berets in his 70s, “because they look good and are very practical.” 

Mr. Zhu, 65. He started wearing a beret two years ago, when his wife knitted him this nice grey model. Sharp!

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