CNY cheongsams at the stores

Lately, the brick and mortar stores like Blum and Gorgeous Gorgeous have launched their initial collection of CNY cheongsams. I am not sure why,  but the Japanese theme seems to be the trend for the coming festive season. The nippon  floral prints are everywhere!

So far, I must say many of the Blum dresses look rather gorgeous. Like this elegant cheongsam with Japanese floral prints and a pleated purple skirt. Typical of Blum, they have to add on an ugly belt which is really redundant, even the necklace too.
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Floral prints are very popular for cheongsams and we see them in shades of orange and red.
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The cheongsam below is not just about Nippon prints, but is inspired by the kimono. I thought it’s a rather interesting fusion of both designs. But I don’t know why the designer has to include the fabric buttons on the chest. It’s like he/she is trying to make known to everybody that this is a cheongsam. The mandarin collar is already an indication. The buttons just make the dress look busy.
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Another view of the dress.
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A stunning straight-cut fiting cheongsam. Notice the arm-hole design, which is different from the usual curve.
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The same dress is paired with a chinoiserie cap-sleeved cardi.
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A beautiful piece from Blum, which has no Nippon influence. Yes, this is the typical cheongsam design, but I like the seductive see-through fabric on the decolletage and the pretty orchid prints that don’t cover the entire dress.
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Gorgeous Gorgeous (at Raffles Place) offers a 1950’s style cheongsam with poufy skirt and petticoat. This is retro in a pretty way, but only suitable for a young lady.
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Another Nippon print cheongsam in the traditional design that looks rather dated,
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A pale orange lace dress, also from Gorgeous Gorgeous, with beads (God knows why) and none of the elegance nor sophistication.
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Separately, Hana has not showcase anything that is a standout either. This is another of their matronly looking cheongsam.
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I have started to see appearance of cheongsams in other boutiques, including Miz Apparels, from whom I have received photo-shots of new designs. I will be sharing them in my next post.

Finally, the CNY cheongsams

I thought I would put up a lighter post this time, after a very serious topic in the last one (though the issue is constantly on my mind). Besides I have been waiting to put up a post on the Chinese New Year (CNY) cheongsams.

The first to launch the festive collection is Our Bitsy Prints, on 27th November, called “Flower Power”. There is no new designs here, all of them are rehashed from previous collections, A set of mother-daughter matching dresses was included in the mix.
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To be honest, I don’t find the little girl cheongsam as pretty as those from Miz Apparels; it seems more like a casual dress to me. The mama design was offered in one of the previous collections, and is one which I don’t think much of. But I guess it may be suitable for the chubby ladies.

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OBP has launched two prints for this high shoulder-cut design, which doesn’t appeal to me.

The one that caught my eyes is this wrap skirt cheongsam dress.
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I like the pretty colors and the faux wrap skirt design which is something new for my wardrobe. This time I was super quick to place my order. On a side note, there was a couple of times when I had wanted to get a dress from OBP, but was never fast enough. For this collection, to make sure I would get what I wanted, I had OBP website opened, and drafted an email in preparation. When it was launch time, I quickly refreshed the website, scanned through the dresses and spotted this, and within two minutes sent out the email. When i received a reply from OBP, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it would be an early Christmas gift from them, and so thank you very much for it.

When I sent this wrap skirt cheongsam for alteration, there was a lady who wanted to have her DvF wrap dress altered as well. That got me thinking that perhaps we can incorporate the warp design into cheongsam dress. It won’t be completely without buttons, but studs can be added on the chest area, with a bottom wrap held by the tie. I do realize, though, that the type of fabric material used is essential for the dress to drape beautifully.

Anyway I have digressed. So back to OBP’s other designs for the first CNY collecton. There is the usual sleeveless flare skirt cheongsam.
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And the cheongsam top.
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I don’t know why it is paired with a white jean skirt with tattered seams, which I find makes the whole get-up sloppy.

Anyway OBP is planning their next CNY launch in end December, after Christmas, with 15 designs this time. Most of them would be in the ubiquitous red color, befitting of a CNY dress. Hopefully there will be new designs then because this batch looks a little tiring.

Another online boutique, Joli Pretty, also had its first CNY launch that took place last Friday. According to Ann, one of the co-owners, they brought forward the launch date by a week.

To be honest, the collection is also not inspiring, whether it’s the designs or prints. In fact it looks rather run of the mill without any outstanding piece.
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By the way, The Happy Cheongsam will be launching its next collection this Friday evening local time. This is not the CNY theme, but inspired by a trip to the zoo. Unfortunately, instead of being whimsical, there are a lot of kiddy prints and so most of the designs are strictly for the young ladies: below 30 years old can check it out.
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Like this dress above, if I were to wear it, it would be a picture of farcical youthfulness, like the late Nina Wang aka 小甜甜. The print on the skirt reminds of that for children bed linen.

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Another dress for young girls.

There are 3 tops offered this time, mainly in kiddy prints, like this below. (My toddler son has two whimsical panda T-shirts, and so such prints should be restricted to the young.)
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Still, there are two designs for the more mature crowd, one of which is a mother-daughter set. Unfortunately, like that from OBP, the set doesn’t jump out at me, and the little girl cheongsam is not very pretty either.
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The designs for this latest collection from THC stick rather closely to previous ones; there is no pushing of any envelope here, nor anything interesting. I’m disappointed to say I don’t see anything chic.

Suffer the little children

A couple of evenings ago, I caught snippets of an episode on Channel News Asia program, “Get Real”, about child abuse in China – Behind Classroom Doors. It turns out that in April this year, there was a major news of a remote village in China, where twelve preschoolers were sexually violated by their teacher for more a year! To say I was shocked was an understatement, I was seriously horrified, especially when I learned that the youngest child was only four years old then. This is pedophilia, and the freaking monster should be jailed for life! But he is still in detention instead of being tried in court.

The program also featured other child victims, one who was beaten by his teacher which caused him to be blind in one eye, and a couple of others were secretly fed antibiotics by their school, which were meant for adults.  I was really disturbed by such abuses on the young children, and that their parents could get little justice for them because of loop holes in the law.

I wanted to find out more about child abuse cases in China, and googled online, and was very appalled by the various cases that were reported. (To think that those that went unreported could be even higher.) The latest incident that went viral on the web happened in October, of this toddler girl who was kicked and beaten by her step-mother because she wet herself. A neighbor staying above filmed the whole terrifying ordeal which I didn’t watch, but I was really shaken just reading the article and looking at the images. I broke down when I later read that the little girl cried for her mother to save her while being tortured. I don’t know what happened or where her real mother was, and unfortunately she wasn’t around to stop it. If this had happened to Buddy, I would literally skin the sicko alive even if I had to strike a bargain with the devil.

I don’t know if this woman is mentally disturbed or a psycho, or if she is really human, but a little research made me realize that many children are suffering the same or worse fate from either their parents or step-parents. I tried to find out what happened to this little girl, hoping that the bloody perpetrator would be  caught. There was not much info other than the Chinese netizens are trying to find out where this happened in order to rescue the victim, and the police are involved as well.

What I find unbelievable is that, in China, most of these parent perpetrators go unpunished, and social service is almost non-existent. According to this Chinese article on why the law can’t be relied on to tackle child abuses, written in Chinese, there is little or no consequences for the abusers because the laws are too vague and nothing specific on minor protection. In fact, such cases are largely considered as family affairs, and the saying “spare the rod and you spoil the child” is deeply ingrained in the culture. Somehow this justifies corporal punishment on kids. In fact, it’s not just in China but in many parts of Asia, even Singapore.

Unlike the developed countries, China does not have a system for child protection. In fact the above-mentioned article stated a survey showing that almost 40% of Chinese kids suffer abuses of different forms, of which 4% suffer from serious abuses. Judging from the news reports I read, the seriousness warrants hospitalization and sometimes even resulted in death. I know that child abuses occur in all countries, like there was a case reported in New York in August of an Indian couple charged with severely abused their 12 years old girl. Luckily she was rescued by child services, though New York Times criticized the government agency for being slow to act and not alert to the signs of an abused child. Yes, the wheel of justice turns rather slowly, but at least it turns. The couple faces a whole battery of charges including first, second and third degree assault, among others; the woman (who is the step-mom of the girl) bears the bulk of them and is facing 33 years in jail if convicted, while her husband faces seven years jail term. In China, a woman was charged and tried for severely abusing her step-daughter in 2012, which left the young girl disabled, and was only jailed for 5 years.

There are all these talks about children being our future, well, try telling that to the poor little victims. For a country that spent so much on defense and fueling ambitious space programs, the freaking Chinese government should pause and seriously consider the well being of its future generation. How about increasing the budget for education so that there is stringent vetting of teachers and inspection of schools, strengthening the law to punish the abusers, making sure the laws are enforced, and setting up a system to protect the minors? And stop touting the tired rhetoric of the Chinese culture being a few thousand years old, because it sure looks like it is still stuck in the dark ages.

The same goes for other Asian countries who don’t seem to find it a problem for parents to inflict violence on their kids, like using the cane. Earlier this year, Sweden made news when the court jailed a Malaysian couple for smacking and caning their children. Most Malaysians was shocked, not because of what happened to the children but their parents, and questioned the ban of caning in Sweden, all because they had grown up being beaten themselves. Like a woman recalled how her father tied her to a tree and beat her, while another had raw chilli forced into his mouth when he told a lie. It’s strange that they don’t realize violence begets violence, and very few, if any, question why the kid behaves the way he or she does. There is very little effort to try to understand the child, and instead it’s easier to resort to using corporal punishment when the child gets “out of line”. It was said that Einstein was a difficult child when he was young and he didn’t really do well in school. If he was born in Asia, he would have the shit beaten out of him, and probably we wouldn’t have the theory of relativity today.  Parents don’t realize that in the fit of anger, they don’t know when to stop. Most of all, where and how do we draw the line between punishment and abuse when it comes to corporal punishment?

In Singapore, the judicial system allows the use of caning as a form of punishment for crimes like vandalism and rape etc. And I presume parents think that since the state condones it, parents can do the same to their kids who are deemed to be disobedient. I tried to look for information on child abuse here, but could only find one reported case that happened in 2013, which is strange. I don’t believe that it hardly happens here. In this particular case, a nanny and her children had abused two brothers for years, before it was found out. I can understand that the poor boys didn’t dare speak up out of fear. But I am amazed their mother didn’t even notice the injuries inflicted on them.

Separately I saw a news headline that the number of suspected child abuse cases in Singapore had increased by 40% in 2012 compared to 2008, but I can’t find the full article. I am not sure if it is a case of sweeping the dirt under the carpet, but we should be open about what is going on around us, and people should be made aware that we have to stand up for the little ones. This is not about others’ family affairs, this concerns the physical and psychological well being of a child. I am supportive of the ban on caning of minors, like in Sweden.

Sit, Buddy, sit!

This sounds like a command learned from Cesar Milan, but no, Buddy is not a dog, he ‘s our 2.5 years old son. Though some parents may actually use it on their kids. The reason I said this is because, like a dog, it’s just as difficult to get a young child to sit still.

Though every child is different, one thing they have in common, at least for very young children is their curiosity. When Buddy started walking, he wanted to explore the surrounding and refused to sit quietly. When we took him to church, he always pointed to outside and whined for us to take him out instead of being cooped up for the entire mass service. My husband and I had to take turns to take him on a tour of the place. And there were many tours because we had to do it every Sundays for several months. My husband claimed he had cover all the nooks and crannies of the church with Buddy.

As Buddy got slightly older, we thought it might be easier to keep him occupied. So I brought along a bag of toys, books, and of course the ubiquitous ipad to church for him. It took time, but eventually he was able to stay with us for 3/4 of the duration, and the ipad is a must-have. But it seems like certain parents (or mothers) frown upon such behavior.

A couple of months ago, as usual, Buddy was watching the ipad quietly (volume off).There was a family with two toddler kids and a baby sitting in front of us. The two older kids were a couple of years older than Buddy, but still at the fidgety age. They were curious about what Buddy was watching and peered over the bench. But their mother was not pleased, and kept telling them to face forward. During peace offering, she looked like she was doing it out of obligation(in a grudging manner) when she looked at me. I don’t know whether it was because she wasn’t happy that her kids were distracted by the iPad or she disapproves of using iPad to distract the child. I would think that she should understand it is very difficult for a young child not to fidget, especially for active kids like Buddy, and that they really don’t understand what the mass was about, and no interest to focus on the ritual or songs. If it is the iPad, then she doesn’t realize that watching the right educational apps in a moderate amount of time does help the child learn. In fact Buddy learned alphabets, shapes, phonics and developed a love for puzzles from the ipad apps.

Anyway, a few months ago we switched churches because Buddy has gym classes on Sunday, and so we are going to one which is nearer to the center. There is a creche at this church but only for parents with infants. Still, even when Buddy was a baby, we hardly used it. For reasons unknown, the aircon inside the creche was broken since the church opened a few years back. My husband hated staying in there because not only was it cramped and noisy, but also stuffy. We found out that the aircon was finally fixed a month ago, but we are not qualified to use it now. So we have to use the same modus operandi to keep Buddy from wanting to go outside to play at the fake gardens. (Once he is out, it’s difficult to return into the church, and when he wails, we end up outside anyway.) The ipad also keeps Buddy from jumping up and down the kneeling bench, probably a warm up to the gym class.  Though there is the children’s liturgy but it is only for kids at 5-12 years old. So for the toddlers, unfortunately their parents have to try to keep them quiet, which is really not an easy task.

Last Sunday, during mass, Buddy asked for the iPad, and I gave it to him with relief. I turned off the volume, and placed it on the bench ledge in front of us, with Buddy sitting on the kneeling bench.  There was a woman and her son, sitting in front of us, who shifted their positions and pushed against the iPad a few times, causing it to fall flat on its attached casing each time. I guess when Buddy pull the ipad upright, he might have pressed on the volume button. So there was a teeny sound coming from it. Again, during the peace offering, the woman in front turned around and told me I should teach Buddy to respect the Eucharist and that the iPad sound was distracting and disrespectful. I apologized to her. Yes, I should have immediately checked the volume control and disabled it, but pray tell how do you explain the Eucharist to a 2.5 years old kid and expect him to respect the ceremony? The lady is lucky to have a quiet  son who can sit still. (He looks like 11 or 12 years old, so I guess it’s easier for him to focus.)

To be honest, as long as a child is not disrupting the service or causing a nuisance for more than 5 minutes, we should learn to live and let live. I guess there are some who have a holier-than-thou attitude.

I also have to say that for an institution which is supposedly to be pro-family, the church has not provided adequate facilities for families with young children. There is no baby changing table installed; many times we had to change Buddy on the bench outside the church. Maybe babies and toddlers don’t poop in church except for Buddy. There are facilities to accommodate the elderly and disabled though. Maybe the church clergy and laity think that as long as the parents are abled, they should be able to handle on their own. Unfortunately the clergy has no idea about caring for young kids, and the laity is either too old to remember or too absorbed in other matters.

What’s up with the cheongsam?

Things have been a little slow with new designs and launches lately. Only Joli Pretty had another new launch, which happened last Thursday. Our Bitsy Prints will be coming out with their next collection in late November, which is very likely next Thursday. Blum hasn’t launched their Chinese New Year designs yet, probably scheduled for next month.

Anyway Joli Pretty added some festive cheer to its latest collection – the Christmas prints are found in two of the dresses. To be honest, I don’t think that is such a good idea. Would you wear a Christmas theme dress for Chinese New Year or even middle of the year? 

One of them is this green Christmas tree dress called “Be Home For Christmas”, which must be inspired by the song “I’ll be home for Christmas” by Michael Buble. (Not my favorite song, I prefer “It’s gonna be a cold cold Christmas” by Dana. ) I call it the Christmas tree dress because it looks a little like one.

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Home for Christmas

A cutesy cheongsam is this Kawaii Kimono dress, one of two with Japanese-themed prints. It’s sold out, which is not surprising. But the design is the usual flare skirt, nothing exciting.
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There are a couple of pretty dresses, like this turquoise blue cheongsam with tulip skirt. The top print reminds me of the Gucci logo. I also like that there are side pockets sewn in. I’m now a fan of dresses with pockets, which is such a convenient.
JP - Tulip Love

JP has a flamenco design which I like a lot, but not the print combination which I don’t think they match. This dress doesn’t have any pockets, and I believe it is due to the design. I also prefer for it to have a slightly higher collar. (I should return to Studio 55 to see if the flamenco dress is still available.)

Vintage Darling

Vintage Darling

Anyway I bought a dress from their previous collection, which I didn’t spot when it was launched, called “Green Forest”. I will review the dress in my next post once I have it in my hands.

As usual, I have taken pictures of cheongsams on window display while moving around. This is a beautiful red lace top from Hana. I wouldn’t pair it with the long pencil skirt though, the whole get-up looks matronly. Instead it would go well with a fitting dark blue jeans (without holes please).
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A boutique, located at Raffles X-change, called “Gorgeous, Gorgeous” offer vintage looking dresses with flouncy petticoats and some cheongsams. The latters tend to be the usual straight-cut fitting form, nothing spectacular. A lace dress is shown below; I find it doesn’t look quite as elegant as the simple lace cheongsams from Hana.
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A high shoulder cheongsam, with boring print.
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I spotted these two dresses on the window display of Ong Shunmugam boutique. The green dress showcases a beautiful interpretation of a modern cheongsam. I find it looks really vibrant and sexy. When the design is good, it is really good.
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I guess this light grey dress is for the elderly women?
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For those looking forward to Our Bitsy Prints’ next collection, here is a sneek peek to a couple of rather pretty dresses.
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Adhoc ramblings

I celebrated my 43rd birthday last week in a quiet manner. Well, as per my usual practice, I took a day off to have a break since Buddy was in daycare. My husband and I went to Pasarbella at the Grandstand which we hadn’t been for a long time. We felt it was a little cramped to take Buddy along, especially with him in a stroller. Perhaps because we had brunch at Jones earlier, but I didn’t have enough tummy room to indulge. Still we ordered paella, salad, and my husband had the crackling roast pork. The place is big on meat, you see it available everywhere. We’re surprised there’re not a lot more salads available.

Anyway I didn’t get any gift for myself for my birthday, instead, I bought Christmas gifts for Buddy and his cousins. Yep, it seemed a little early, but I enjoy getting presents for the kids rather than for myself.  In fact, I have no desire to get a bag, shoes, or jewelry. Even for clothes, the only thing I’ll consider getting is cheongsam. I actually find it quite fun to shop for pressies at woodwould, a quirky shop selling vintage toys, trinkets, planners, and accessories etc, located at Mandarin Gallery. We showed Buddy what we were getting for him, and luckily he didn’t clamor to open up the pressies. We told him he could only open them on Christmas Day.

Lately, in the news, there was significant publicity on a satirical group (or what some would describe as a mega trolling group), SMRT (Ltd) Feedback. I first found out about it after a couple of friends liked its FB posts on vigilantism against a hateful cellphone shop owner. Only then did I catch on to the news of how a poor Vietnamese tourist was scammed and humiliated. Briefly, this man, a factory worker who only earned $200 a month, came to Singapore on a vacation with his girlfriend, and wanted to buy an iPhone 6 for her. He was offered S$960 for it at this shop, Mobile Air, which he paid for it. Then the seller asked if he wanted warranty for the phone, which he affirmed, and was made to sign on an invoice. Following this, he was told he had to pay S$1500 for the warranty! He was shocked and declined it, but the seller told him he wouldn’t get his phone if he didn’t pay for it.  The Vietnamese man got desperate and went down on his knees and begged for the refund of the phone, while being filmed by the staff, who laughed at him. They told him they would only offer half the money back.

This said shop is located at Sim Lim Square, which is known for selling electronics, computers and cell phone products, but is also notorious for being a place teeming with fraudsters. The article from Vulcan post (in the above link) stated that the place is rife with negative reviews in Tripadvisor. But for those tourists who come from non-English speaking countries, it’s understandable that they might not have caught wind of the warnings. The bloody shop was also in the news a few days earlier for refunding a Chinese tourist S$1,010 in coins, after being ordered to do so by the Small Claims Tribunal.

SMRT Feedback then launched a vigilante movement against the shop and it’s owner, forcing the shop to close for several days (according to netizens, it reopened today). You can read all about the actions in this Vulcan post which includes an interview with SMRT Feedback. By the way, for those not familiar with Singapore, SMRT is the tube transport operator in the country, and of course, this is not the real feedback unit of the operator. As mentioned, this is a satirical (or troll) group, and apparently set up after a massive train disruption happened in December 2011. No one knew who the person or people behind it, though the administrator/s claimed there were four of them, one from each racial groups in Singapore: Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian.

Since getting to know of the group, I’ve been following the posts on Facebook, and have to admit that I was intrigued and impressed by their investigative works of digging out information on the shop owner. Sure, I know some do not condone the vigilante behavior (like my husband who thinks that you can’t resort to chaos to counter chaos when there is still law and order within the country). I personally feel the bastard shop  owner deserves the “lynching”, since consumers here get almost no protection and rights. Though we have a Consumer Association or CASE, it is practically useless and should be closed down.

Singaporeans are aware of the scam tactics employed by a number of shops at Sim Lim Square, and this is because many were cheated previously. Now that the people have wised up, the bloody shops turn their targets to tourists, who are also easier to scam. When the public read about the plight suffered by the Vietnamese tourist, there was a lot of empathy and anger. A good Samaritan used crowdfunding to raise funds for the Vietnamese man, and within an hour, he reached his target. But the bloody shop was still operating because, apparently no law was broken, and so when SMRT Feedback took matters into its hands to punish the owner, many cheered and supported the action. I admit I was one of them, and I understand the feeling of the mob.

The locals are pissed that nothing has been done to these errant shops despite the numerous complaints in the past. And much vitriol was leveled at CASE, which, for unknown reasons, when it was called in to mediate on behalf of the Vietnamese, it resulted in the poor man getting even less refund from the shop.  (CASE, is also an organization which the locals avoid because of its notoriety for being useless.) Until and unless there are serious regulations in place to protect consumer rights, I think such vigilante acts will receive widespread support.

On an unrelated note, the other day, I read an FB  post written by a mother who crowed about her daughter graduating from college at the tender age of 17, after she left the Singapore education system which failed her. The article was  a criticism of the education system, of how  the school teacher didn’t bother to teach and  left it to the tuition teacher. It started when she decided to prep the daughter for the primary 5 science exam the day before it, and was shocked to find out she didn’t know the answer to a simple question. The daughter told her because she was in the top class, the students were expected to know their stuff, and the teacher just put the answers to assignment questions on the board. The little girl was also afraid to ask questions for fear of getting reprimanded for interrupting the class. The mother also revealed that she had not bothered to attend any parent-teacher-meetings previously because she wasn’t interested to know where her kid ranked vis-à-vis others, and she thought she could entrust her child’s academic development to the school since she didn’t believe in tuition. Anyway after realizing the problem, she took her daughter out of school and home-schooled her, and only returned to school to take the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Exam). I presume (though this wasn’t mentioned) that the girl was sent overseas after that and hence able to graduate at 17 (which is not possible in Singapore).

What surprised me is the naivety of the mother, that she was completely clueless of the Singapore education system, and also completely hands-off in her child’s developments until she realized the problem at the last minute.   I know I sound harsh, but I would call that irresponsible parenting. If they were from a poor family where both parents had to work long hours to make ends meet, I would understand  the predicament and be sympathetic. But this is obviously not the case, so how could the mother not monitor the progress of her child and wash her hands off any responsibilities?  Parents cannot just push the education of  their children to schools and expect them to emerge as top scorers. The teacher is responsible for a class of at least 35 kids, on top of administrative duties and many other stuff, and you expect him/her to take care of your child’s learning entirely? Parents, it’s your job to understand your children and their progress in school. You should inculcate the love for learning right from the beginning, and develop self-motivation and discipline in him/her. You should also encourage your kid to be assertive, to speak up, to confide in you when there’re problems or issues. You don’t outsource this responsibility. This mother didn’t even realize that her daughter was also bullied in school until much later.

Thank God the girl emerged fine from the negative experience. Though, to be honest, I am not so sure about the early college graduation, because one would have to wonder how matured she really is. Many top secondary schools make their students go through the process of tough competition, tons of project works, and learning to work independently and in a team, on top of academics, over the four-year period, followed by another two years of junior college (senior high in the US), because they will face the same challenges at top colleges. If I’m not wrong, Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford or other Ivies don’t accept students who are not of college age, because the environments are ultra competitive and complicated. Even at 18, some students struggle to cope, least alone the young teenagers. You are facing some really scary smart kids here who are also damn good at strategizing (or manipulations). You have better be equally good or have some sort of support behind you.

The truth is education is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to spend time preparing for the 42km race. It also doesn’t matter how long it takes, but as long as you finish  it, that is what matters. So parents should ensure their kids build a strong foundation starting at a young age , no matter how long it takes, and with a strong base, the sky’s the limit.

I am ultimately responsible for Buddy. If he doesn’t do well in school or he turns out to be a scumbag, I would have to reflect upon myself and ask how I have failed as a mother.

Pushing the cheongsam envelope (update)

When it comes to pushing the envelope, there are sone designers who try to create avant garde cheongsams so that their designs stand out. Sometimes the results look fabulous, and sometimes they just look plain weird.

The Happy Cheongsam
THC is launching its 7th collection this week, which is inspired by the tuxedo. The same inspiration that sparked Yves Saint Laurent to create the first female pantsuit, Le Smoking, in the 1960’s, which is still so iconic to this day. In fact, many years ago,  I fell in love with the look and got myself a pencil pantsuit as well. While wearing it, I was trying hard not to look like I was sweating like a pig inside. (Hell! It’s really not suitable for Singapore’s humid weather, and you have to be in air con environment, that resembles the Arctic, to look cool in it.)

Anyway, THC is launching a smaller collection with only 4 dresses and a top. The one that caught my attention is “The Chap”, a sophisticated design with whimsical bird print on the bib.
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I love the paring of the playful aviary print with the dominant black color. It is neither a Tux nor cheongsam, but both, and done with a feminine flare. It is a stand out.

THC has a flirty “Pink Tux” dress for those who prefer a softer color. This design is not as creative as the one above, but still looks good for those looking for a pretty dress to wear for Christmas, Chinese New Year, or special dates.
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Then there is the interesting “Porcelain Bow”, which has the “Tai Tai” (lady of leisure) look about it.
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The weakest design of the lot is the “Girly Tux”. This comes in separate top and skirt, and the look is nothing new. But the color pairing is rather youthful and chirpy.
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Finally there is the cheongsam top, or maybe a Tuxedo vest? I like the design, which is rather smart-looking, but I’m not keen on the color combo. Would have been better with black button and stripes against blue.
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The sizing doesn’t come any bigger than L size, and I would urge those, who want a bigger size, to seriously comsider whether you would look good in it. The collection will be available this Friday at 8.00pm Singapore time. Though on THC website, it is indicated as sold out. Ming told me she is having some problems with the platform and trying to fix them. But rest assured that nothing is sold out yet, and sale is on a first come first serve basis at launch time.

Shanghai Tang
Shanghai Tang is known for pushing the envelope in its cheongsam designs. It celebrated its 20th anniversary in Shanghai on 22 October, and launched a limited edition imperial collection for evening wear. I have to say that the dresses are absolutely gorgeous, and expectedly the prices are sky high to match them.

I love this beautiful orange lace dress with pleats on the lower front. Because it has a modern vibe to it, the black stockings and gladiator heels add a sexy grittiness to the lacy femininity. This is a stunner!
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The other favorite is this organza and lace dress with geometric pattern on the lace. It has an interesting gather on the front waist, and a va va voom egg-shaped opening at the back. This is an absolute head-turner.
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Ong Shunmugam
I know Ong Shunmugam also tries pushing the envelope in redefining the cheongsam. I am late in the news, but I had just checked out the FW14 collection (launched during mid year) in the Her World website, and have mixed feelings about it. It’s called “Civilization and Madness”, and indeed some of the jarring mix of prints and cut made the poor cheongsam looks like it needs psychiatric help. Case in point is this dress below. Maybe the designer got her secondary inspiration from the Dayak tribe of Borneo, but I seriously am not sure if even the natives can look elegant in this.
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Luckily there are other designs which show some sanity, like these below. I particularly find the one with the peplum a display of talent in the way the prints are mixed and matched.
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The Her World magazine gushed about how the collection demonstrated that Ong Shunmugam had designed clothes that flatter a woman’s natural curves, and not just for the stick thin models. My first reaction to this was “what the hell are you talking about!”. If this is true, how come no pudgy models or even real women were used for the fashion show? Looking at the designs, other than the dress below, I’m not sure how a lady with a tummy or flabby arms would look good in any of them. This description about flattering a woman’s curves is just bullshit, because you don’t see a single real woman walking the runway in any major fashion shows, least alone the minor ones. And for that matter, would any ladies buy the clothes if they see real women on the runway? I guess, it’s human nature to want to live in fantasy.
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Sneak Peek
Our Bitsy Prints provided a peek into an exclusive print for their upcoming collection.
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Yes, you see right. Kuehs! The illustration is by Mr Lee Xin Li, and I must say the kuehs look rather delectable. Both my husband and son are big fans of the dessert. I’m sure, if I do get this dress, I’ll get calls of “Kuehs, kuehs!” from my husband, and “yummy!” from my son.

(Update on 7 Nov)

Last night, THC uploaded more pictures of its latest collection on the FB page. After checking the back view of “The Chap” dress, and I have reservations about it. The rumpled gathers at the back cause the dress to lose the sleek look it has in front. Unfortunately I can’t save the photo to show it here.

The other disappointment is the cheongsam Tux top. There is a row of pleats on the back, and again, it doesn’t look as sleek as it should it be.
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Sifting through the cheongsams from Taobao

Recently I received a comment from a reader to check out Taobao or  淘宝 for cheap and good cheongsams. That piqued my interest, since I’m always interested in cheap and good cheongsams (which are rare), and I had never really checked out the site  before.  Initially I had wanted to put up a review post like what I did for Etsy and Qoo10, but after going through innumerable cheongsam pictures, I realized there are some interesting designs suitable for women who are not slim, or in plain speak, pudgy.

I am not going to be politically correct here, and will probably have vitriol spew at me, but I’m just stating the truth. Almost all cheongsam designs are for the slim physique. Don’t forget that the basis of the cheongsam is the clsssic form-fitting cut. The different modern versions are basically variation of it. Think of the reasoning for the design in the first place, and the women who wore them in the hey days of the 1930s. To make a point, before filming of the movie “Lust, Caution” started, Ang Lee told his main actors (who are already slim built by the way), to shed a few more pounds, so that their physiques resembled more to the people living in the 1930s. I’m sure those who saw the movie remember Tang Wei in her beautiful cheongsams. That is the physique meant for the dress.

Previously I thought that with the flare skirt bottom, the cheongsam can be accommodating to the horizontally challenged. But I have since realized that for ladies who don’t possess the shape, they only end up looking like they are wearing a bigger-sized dress meant for a slim person. The big flabby arms in a sleeveless dress, albeit with flared skirt, just don’t cut it.

Don’t believe me, look at the models showcasing the cheongsams, do you see anyone who has BMI higher than 20? (Actually there is one site where the model seems to reflect the reality, but that is the only one I have seen so far.) These slim girls make the dresses look good and we project our images on them, thinking we would look as fabulous. But we have to look at how the cheongsam looks on our physique and be realistic, even the modern designs favor the slim body. So designers have to be creative in launching collections for pudgy women – its not about offering a L or XL size dress to cater to them, but truly redesigning a cheongsam which flatters the bigger bodice.

I know The Lady General tried launching some loose fitting dresses in the first collection, but I find them looking too much like the muu-muu. At Taobao, surprisingly, there are some designs which would look good (and even better) on a bigger woman though the models are stick thin.

I find this elegant flowy grey dress, with bell shaped sleeves, is not really suitable for a thin body, because it only emphasizes how skinny the model is. Instead it is actually better suited for someone bigger in size.
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Below is a rather pretty blue leafy print dress, suitable for the horizontally challenged, and like the above, the elbow length sleeves help to cover up any flabby flaws. Note the the material should be soft to drape well.
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A modern cheongsam shift dress, which has a sophisticated look that doesn’t resemble a tent. Though the fabric is not flowy, the structure still helps to flatter the big size.
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If you are looking for a black dress for the slimming effect, here is a possibility.
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And if you prefer some splash of bright colors, this high-waisted dress is a good option.
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I am sure there are better improvisations to the cheongsam that will make the pudgy ladies look elegant. It will take a lot of effort to come up with something flattering, but I think it will be popular.

The buffet at The Lime

Last month, we had a farewell lunch for a colleague, and she recommended Lime restaurant of the Park Royal at Pickering hotel. Apparently the lunch buffet is rather good. Still, I tend to be rather skeptical about buffet because quantity doesn’t equate to quality. But I didn’t want to be a spoilt sport and so went along.

The hotel is located at a busy junction, but it is relaxing inside the restaurant despite it facing the road. I think the beautiful water feature outside it has a rather calming effect.

The buffet offers a wide variety of food ranging from Italian, Japanese, western roast to even Perankan cuisine. (This is one of the reasons for my skepticism. Can a restaurant provides good food for so many different specialities?) One of the selling points of the buffet is that you can order freshly prepared meals like pasta.

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Image taken from website.

I walked around the restaurant, checking out the different food stations.

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Salad selections

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DIY salad available

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There are even Asian salads for you to choose from.

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Cold cuts

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From left to right: grilled vegetables, mash potato and roast

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You can choose the pasta type and have it cooked on the spot.


A colleague, who had just returned from a vacation in Italy, remarked that the pasta was comparable to what she had in its home town.

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A table of colorful tropical fruits

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The ubiquitous chocolate fountain


Though I am a big fan of desserts, I didn’t find the green tea chocolate fountain appetizing. I think the restaurant is trying to try something funky since it’s called Lime, but this color just doesn’t appeal to me.

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The highlights: desserts

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More sweets for the tooth

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The perankan desserts


This station has DIY rojak, kuehs and durian creme brulee.

After going around, in fact a few rounds, I decided against the western cuisine, which is my usual choice. Instead I chose to have the peranakan food. I picked the Ayam Buah Keluak (a signature dish of chicken cooked with black nuts), Chap Chye (stewed mixed vegetables) and a salted vegetable with duck soup.
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I made a small rojak as well and took a shot glass of durian brulee to try.
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And what’s my verdict? I was wrong, the food was good, though I didn’t get to try the different cuisines. The problem was that I had a big breakfast followed by fruits at 11AM. My colleague, D, exclaimed, “Maria, aren’t you spoiling your appetite before the buffet?” Yep, because I didn’t think much of it, I didn’t have the stomach room to try the different food, and that was my biggest regret.

The perankan food was surprisingly rather authentic and tasty. But the biggest treat was the Durian brulee. It was soooo… good!!! I was the first at the table to try it. It was pure durian heaven, 100% quality durian. My colleague next to me could smell it, and her mouth watered. She is a big durian fan, and couldn’t wait to have a taste. Next thing everyone knew, when she returned to the table, she had 3 shot glasses of durian with her. Yes, she finished every single one of them, and wanted to have one more for the road. It is that good! One of the best desserts I ever had.

I hope to return to the Lime, this time with empty stomach, to try the different food.

Cheongsams from Qoo10, anyone? (Updated)

(I like to apologize first for getting this published prematurely yesterday. I had a bit of a problem getting used to the new WordPress format and accidentally pressed “Publish” before completing my post. This is the finalized version..)

Recently, out of curiosity, I decided to look at the type of cheongsams available for sale in Qoo10, a marketplace where sellers to set up online stores. (I mentioned in my previous post “Cheongsams from Etsy and others” that the stuff sold in qoo10 tend to be relatively cheaper than Etsy. It turns out there are a lot of cheongsams available, but they tend to be generic looking: the straight-cut fitting form with back zip. Still I was surprised by the price range of the dresses; they can be as cheap as less than S$20 to as much as more than S$400! Yet there don’t seem much differences between them, at least based on the pictures and absence of close look at the quality.

Let’s check out the cheap cheongsams available. If you are looking fur a one-off Chinese New Year dress, here is something for less than S $20. If the quality sucks, you can dump it when CNY is over. Though you have to keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t look obviously cheap.
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I had showcased the below dress in my previous post, which is selling in Etsy for more than S $160. The same dress (or maybe an imitation) is selling for less than a quarter of that in Qoo10!
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For those looking for wedding cheongsams on a budget, look no further than Qoo10. You have options of either short or long dresses for less than S $100. The fabrics are claimed to make up of tulle, organza, and chiffon. Whether or not the workmanship is up to mark is for you to find out after delivery. I’m sure alteration is required as well. I guess if you do have a small budget, and again for one-time wear, you can consider it.
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Now comes the more expensive cheongsams, like the one below which costs more than S$160. The fabric is supposedly natural silk.
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This floral-print cheongsam is more than S$300! The pattern is marketed as spray painted on instead of printed. I assume that may be one of the reasons for the higher price, for labor-intensive fabric? (Does this mean if the dress gets wet, the color may run?) In the item description, there is much touting of the mulberry silk fabric. From the closed up images of the cheongsam, the workmanship seems ok. Still, would anyone pays a few hundred bucks for a mass-produced piece?
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Then there is a dress, also more than S$300, which I think has questionable workmanship. Look at the seam of the right sleeve compared to the left one, and the lumpy fabric on the chest.

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This image is intentionally tinted to avoid any accusation from the seller.

And I don’t know how an expensive cheongsam can have seam like this?

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This image is intentionally tinted.

My husband suggested there is no harm getting a cheap cheongsam from Qoo10, just to check out the quality. I may do that to see how it compares to what I have. But I am not sure if I will get any dress that costs more than S$100. It’s actually easier to make a cheongsam with back zip than to have one made with the traditional front opening. So these dresses are basically factory-made.