The cheongsam collection from Blum

When it comes to the cheongsam, Blum is one brand that is closely associated with it. In fact, I have been featuring its collections all these years, and the dresses are among those pictured in my first post on the qipao “I love cheongsams”. 

Most of my earlier cheongsams are from Blum as I was attracted to their elegant designs and prints. But that was the time when there were few cheongsam retailers around, and I did not know about  other brands like Peter Kor or Mama & Misse then. 

In terms of designs and price range, I will say Peter Kor’s collections can be used to measure against those from Blum. They are in the range of S$200+ to almost S$400, though selected Peter Kor cheongsams have been retailed for more. They both have the modern cheongsam designs albeit in their own styles, and interesting prints. However, when it comes to workmanship and fabrics, I have to say Peter Kor has a big edge. Peter is able to source interesting and good quality fabrics, and the workmanship is also better. A reader wrote to me a couple of months back to lash against Blum cheongsam, saying the fabrics were very lousy. So, for this price range, I rather go for Peter Kor’s cheongsams than Blum’s. 

I find this year’s collection from Blum features similar prints and designs as last year’s. And even the range seems a little thin as well. The brand appears to be struggling to launch standout dresses in the face of increased and intense competition. Even the number of stores has reduced; there is only one at Raffles Place now compared to three stores a few years ago. 

Anyway, here is  the collection spotted so far. 


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The cheongsam offerings for spring 2017

I received a mailer from Isetan department store last week on the lunar new year ensemble available at its Scotts outlet, and went over to check it out. Peter Kor of Studio 55 has a permanent counter there and so does Allute. Clothier has returned for this season but not Sissae. Instead there is a new cheongsam brand, Little Qipao, which also offers  little girl qipao as well as Y by Yann. 

In general, the designs are in the classic straight cut, A-line or pleated skirt styles. There are mandarin collar jackets available from Clothier as well, but the main attraction is the Cheongsam. For the Peter Kor’s range, the selection doesn’t seem as comprehensive as what is available at his boutique at Queen Street. So if you like his dresses. It’s best to go to the shop instead, which is what I prefer. In fact, Peter revealed to me today that Isetan Scotts store has the smallest range of his designs compared to other department stores.

There are discounts for the dresses, at 15%. And for Isetan members, you also get to chalk up points for vouchers. But, to be honest, I didn’t see anything that caught my attention. The dresses are the usual designs and prints  that pop up all the time. There was nothing interesting or different. Granted Peter Kor’s designs are available but I have already seen them at his boutique. 

Anyway, here are the dresses you can check out. (Bear in mind there will be more stocks added, like the Flamenco-inspired dress by Peter Is now available at the store.)

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Clothier



Peter Kor

Little Qipao


The classic, the modern, the cheongsam 

Last week, I went over to Studio 55 to check out the latest collection from Peter Kor for the Chinese New Year. As befitting the festive occasion, the Cheongsams are in cheery floral and geometric prints. Though the designs are in the classic cut, they have a modern style about them. Best of all, they have hidden back-zips which make them easy to put on. Granted the collars may be a little high for some women, but that is what make the cheongsams look good.

Check out  the striking juxtaposition of the stripy print with the floral one! It also comes in blue.


Look at the beautiful faux fabric buttons on the neck and side slit of this red dress! I really like the intricate details that Peter added to his cheongsams.

A dress that is so appropriate for Chinese New Year! The leafy embroidered piping is hand sewn onto the cheongsam.


Same design but with a whimsy patchwork print.

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If you prefer simpler dresses that can be worn to work, here are some options for you.

Check out the nipped-in feature on the left waist! A combination of the classic and modern styles.

When I spotted the dress pictured below, I went “wow”! Peter told me he was inspired by the flamenco dress, and I found out that the most famous of the outfit is the polka dotted traje de lunares. I think this is such an amazing oriental version of the Spanish outfit. FYI, the fabric is from Italy and the quality is exquisite. I was also struck by the beautiful fabric buttons, like flowers. This is an amazing looking dress!

If you are looking for a lace dress, here is one, sort-of. Rather than using the whole lace fabric to make a dress, Peter went for a different tack by adorning the bottom of the cheongsam with red lace and beads. This dress is a standout for any occasions!



For a dress without frills, here is one with an artsy print. However, I feel that the short sleeves make the dress look a little mumsy.

The dresses are priced between S$199 to S$499, depending on designs, and are available at its main boutique at s22 Queen Street as well as at certain department stores such as Isetan Scotts.

 

Ahhh, it’s the CNY Cheongsam again!

Happy New Year, everyone! I admit this time I’m slow in providing updates on the Chinese New Year Cheongsams. There have been a number of collections launched since November, and I’ve not been keeping track as closely as I should. It’s mostly because work had been crazy during the year end period, which was strange since things were supposed to be quieter. I had taken leave during the lasr 2 weeks of the year, but because of work I had to return to office for a couple of days. Of course, Pokemon Go has also caused some distraction, but at least it does help me to get more active.

Anyway, if you are looking for affordable cheongsams at less than $200 for a dress, you can consider these retailers. Let’s take a look at Joli Pretty, which has had three launches for the festive season thus far. There is a mix of dresses, two-piece culotte set, jumpsuit and top. I’m not sure why the cheongsam jumpsuit is popular among women, since I think going to the toilet will be a pain in the ass. (I’m assuming the retailers continue to provide this design because women asked for it.)

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And of course, there is the mama-daughter cheongsam set, which seems to be ubiquitous for many retailers. JP launched quite a number of such sets this year, and  credit to them for being flexible that you can actually purchase the dresses separately. This is great for women who like the designs but having no daughters do dress up. The bad news is all the sets are sold out.

Our Bitsy Prints has not been as prolific though, with one collection launched for year end, titled “Colour Pop”. Consisting mostly of dresses plus a top in pastel and bold colors as well as showcasing OBP’s love for lace.

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The Happy Cheongsam launched The Noir et Blanc collection sometime in mid December; with only 2 dresses and a top.

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This is one of two mama-daughter cheongsam offerings from THC, but the pieces cannot be bought separately. The entire set is S$249.

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If you are one of those who prefer to try out the clothes before purchase, you can check out Miz Apparels which has two stores located at downtown: Marina Bay Link Mall and One Raffles Place.  You also have the choice of buying online.

I must say that MA’s dresses look rather appealing on the mannequins, however, strangely, they don’t look so good once I put them on. Is it me or what? So, I’m a little reserved about getting any this year, though I may consider a cheongsam top instead.


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MA is known for its mama-daughter cheongsam sets, and the little dresses are some of the most adorable and stylish out there. They are also available separately. Even if you are not planning to get any of the dresses for yourself, do check out the little cheongsams if you have girls. For me, I get them for my nieces. 

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To be honest, in terms of designs and prints, MA has a stylish edge over the others. But somehow I find the look gets a little stale after some time. So I’m searching for something classic and yet modern that can withstand the passing of time. 

 

A divine food tour at Ann Siang Hill

Last week, my husband planned a food tour for both of us, when we finally have some time off  for ourselves while Buddy is ensconced in daycare. He picked two restaurants located at Ann Siang Hill, with very good reviews. Well, actually he found about the first one from a FB post by our Prime Minister, who took the visiting President of the Philippines to a famous Nasi Lemak eatery known as The Coconut Club. To be honest, we didn’t know about this restaurant until the post appeared. It is said to serve one of the best Nasi Lemak (“coconut flavored rice” in literal translation) in town, and also one of the most expensive. 

My husband did some research and found out that the popular eatery generates long lines everyday, and informed me that we have to be there when the restaurant opens at 11.00AM so that we won’t have to wait too long. And so we arrived at 10.50AM, hoping to beat the queue. The restaurant was opened by then, there was no line and  only one occupied table inside.

Ann Siang Hill is known for its pre-war conserved shop houses, and The Coconut Club is housed in one of them. Because of the high ceiling, despite the scorching heat outside, the eatery is rather cool even with the door wide open. (Yes it does have A/C, and yet it keeps its doors open.) The restaurant mostly caters to groups of 2 diners, with a long table in the middle for large groups. There is not a lot of seating capacity, though there are a few tables outside the restaurant. 

When we entered the restaurant, we were told we could have a seat and order our drinks, but the kitchen would not be ready until 11.00AM.

The menu is very simple, there is only Nasi Lemak with side orders of either Otak (fish paste marinated with coconut milk and Chili), fried fish or fried egg. Since we were on a food tour, we couldn’t fill out stomach at TCC, so we only ordered one set of Nasi Lemak, an Otak, and a chendol (coconut milk dessert). Yes, death by coconut milk is a real possibility here!

 

Here we have the famous dish, which comes with fried chicken, a fried egg, fried ikan bilis (anchovies), fried peanuts, cucumber and the all-important sambal Chili. However the first thing I tried was the grilled Otak, wrapped in banana leaf. Sure, I love Otak, but my husband was busy digging into the Nasi Lemak, while saying, “while stock last!” and “this is sooo… good!” 

So let me review the Otak first, which is $8.50 per piece and possibly the most expensive Otak in Singapore. I have to say it is really good! I could see the fish meat in it and  taste its texture. It also has no fishy taste, unlike the mass produced ones and is marinated with the right amount of spices and a hint of smokiness. 

As for the main course itself, I have to say it is the best Nasi Lemak I’ve ever had! Yes, it is quite steep at S$12.80 a plate, but it is truly amazing! The rice is perfectly cooked with a subtle coconut milk flavor, unlike most where it can be overpowering. The fried chicken is so yummy, crispy on outside and moist inside,  and the rest of the condiments are done well. My husband loves the sambal Chili which is vital to a good plate of Nasi Lemak. 

Ending the meal is the chendol, which is lightly sweetened with Gula Melaka in very fine ice, and I have to say it is a sweet conclusion. Though I am a little disappointed that there is no red bean added into the dessert. My husband, however, thinks otherwise as this is how the original chendol is. 

So, what do I think? I will definitely come back for the Nasi Lemak, even at $12.80 a plate because it’s truly the best I have ever had! There is one famous local food blogger who is a little dismissive of the food, saying that he couldn’t taste the difference compared to other prominent Nasi Lemak sellers. Well, he is entitled to his views but I strongly beg to differ. In fact, I would have returned to the restaurant if not for it being closed currently for the year end break. But I do think the Otak at $8.50 is a little steep, even though it is pretty good and I might not order the chendol (S$3.80) again.  

As we were savoring our meals, the restaurant was filling up fast. When we left at 11.45AM, it was full and a line was starting to form. My advice is to come here before 11AM if possible. 

Our next stop is located a stone’s throw away at 22 Ann Siang Road, Lolla. I had not heard of this restaurant until my husband told me he had made a reservation for our food tour, but that’s because I have not been following the food scene here. And it is only until now that I am writing this review post and doing a little research on its background that I found out it was featured in the New York Times, and was one of the  top 10 hottest restaurants in the world in the 2013 Zagat list. Since I have tried the food, I can say it deserves the hype!

As mentioned, I went to Lolla without any idea of what to expect though my husband told me the restaurant offers food in tapas style. (I found out from research that that is not how the owner wants the food to be known.) Well, it is only similar to tapas in the sense that the food comes in small plates. The influence comes from the Mediterranean. 

Lolla is a small eatery with a 13-seater bar counter surrounding an open kitchen, similar to a sushi counter restaurant. I understand that there is more seating available in the basement but we did not venture there. We were the first customers that day, and a whimsy menu lies on the counter in front of each seat. (It’s also available on its website.) 

There is a special menu if you want to order something different, and the dessert menu on the chalk board.

The chefs in the kitchen, where you get to view their culinary skills. 

Looks at all these spices and ingredients! Under the counter top, there are a few fridges that are set to different temperatures. I noticed the Chef taking out a potted basil plant from one of them. It’s like having a mini herb garden right in the kitchen!

First to serve is toasted Maison Kayser bread with Konbu butter. Though I am sensitive to wheat, but I decided to have a small piece of bread so that I could try the butter. What can I say? I went for second helping of bread and more. To hell with bloated tummy! 

Like what my husband said, there is something about the combination of konbu (dried edible kelp used by Japanese in their cooking) and butter that makes a divine spread. Creaminess with an umami taste! 

The simple but delectable tomato salad, marinated with olive oil and chopped basil. 

Another starter: the fabulous bread with duck rillettes. On its own, the latter is not something amazing. But when I followed my husband’s lead in spreading the butter with duck rillettes on the bread and topping with tomatoes to make an open face sandwich, it’s drool-inducing good!

We ordered the grilled avocado for more vege. The avocadoes are topped with pine nuts and pickled cabbage with some sort of creamy sauce on the base. The combination is amazing! The pine nuts and cabbage add crunch to the creamy texture of the avocadoes which are enhanced by the sauce.

The piece de resistance of the meal is the lamb rack, which is amazingly tender and tasty, with none of the smell that put some people off lamb. If not for me wanting to have dessert, I would have had both racks. I gave one to my husband who was eyeing it longingly despite having had most of the Nasi Lemak earlier. 

For dessert, I tried the smoky chocolate ice cream. Upon tasting it, I realized that the ice cream was like gelato, not frozen but with a creamy texture. The smoky taste enhances the chocolate flavor like salt does. But I understand the steamed dark chocolate pudding is a hit with many customers; I will try that at my next visit.

I guess it is obvious from my review that I have fallen in love with Lolla food. It is one of the best meals I’ve ever had, and even now I’m still thinking about it! I’ve suggested to my husband for a return, but he feels that there are other good restaurants we have not tried and we should check them out instead of going back to the tried and tested. That is true, considering that we didn’t know Lolla is so good until we had the food. So, do make a trip to Lolla for the fabulous cuisine, and make reservation for lunch, which is easier to get a seat. 

A Sentosa staycation

We didn’t plan for an overseas trip this year, instead we decided on a staycation at the last minute. I thought it would be a good idea to go to Sentosa when I could get a chance to hunt rare pokemons. My husband agreed, though for a different reason: Kidzania is at Sentosa. In case you’re wondering, it is a theme park where kids get to try out various jobs and having fun while at it (until they grow up and face the real world). We showed Buddy the promo video of the huge indoor park, and after seeing kids played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the movie theatre located onsite, he was totally hooked. (Yes, Buddy is back to TMNT.)

I looked around the accommodation options at Sentosa and found that Amara Sanctuary
Resort has a staycation package for Kidzania. On the map, the hotel looks to be the closest to the site. Best of all, the package comes with breakfast and the hotel has king-size bed option. So I booked for a one-night stay at S$435.

My husband spent time studying the layout at Kidzania as well as the different job stations, and he then announced that we should get to the hotel early to collect the entry tickets and enter Kidzanja when it opens at 10AM. It turns out that certain stations like the pilot training academy, are extremely popular and wait time at the line is usually an hour or longer. He wanted Buddy to go for that, and so we had to be there when the park opened to avoid the long wait.

Well, like Murphy’s law, things don’t always go as planned. In fact, it didn’t get off to a good start when we arrived at Sentosa. In the confirmation letter from Amara Sanctuary, it stated that we had to go to a manned gantry to show the hotel confirmation letter to get free entry. Being our first time driving through the Sentosa gantry, we were a little confused and we couldn’t stop to look for signage because there were cars behind us. So we approached the one right in front of our path, and, unfortunately, it turned out to be an automated entry and the $6 entry fee was deducted from the cash card. When we informed the reception staff, we were told we should go to gantry 1 or 2. Well then, why wasn’t it stated clearly in the letter?

We indicated our unhappiness with the ambiguous information to the hotel staff during check in, but we couldn’t wait for a resolution. We had to get into Kidzania once it opened, remember. And it was then, we found out, the theme park isn’t as close to the hotel as it looks on the map. The hotel is actually located at the back of Kidzania, and of course there is no  entry there. We were told to walk to the nearest Inbiah station to take the monorail to Beach station where Kidzania is.  It was a 5-minute walk, not far to be honest, but when we were rushing for time, it started to dawn on us that Amara Sanctuary doesn’t have such a good location. Worst, for parents with strollers or disabled on wheelchairs, it’s really a bloody hassle because of the elevated pavement going to the station.  It is another 5 minutes’ walk from the Beach station to Kidzania. So, needless to say, we didn’t reach Kidzania at 10.00AM.

Finally we’re here! Check out the life-size plane sticking out from the glass window!

Once inside, there was already a long line of people! Thank God we had got tickets in advance! However, the relief was short-lived. We were told to join the queue, to get the tags and a free bag for Buddy. Turned out most people had bought advance tickets anyway. Grrr……

We went straight to the pilot training academy and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the first session was filled. Next one was at 11.30AM. So we decided to get Buddy his kidzania passport first. A kid receives a stamp on the passport when he participates at any job station.

When I stepped into the humongous 2-storey indoor playground, I was reminded of Caesar’s Palace at Las Vegas. It must be the picture of the sky on the ceiling.  Since Kidzania provides job-playing fun for kids, it’s a chance to make extra cash by getting companies to set up shops for product endorsement. And so we have the likes of MayBank, KFC and Mt Elizabeth Hospital, etc, hoping to make an impression on their future customers. Like the aforementioned plane, it was donated by Qatar Airlines in case you didn’t notice.

There is even an adventure training school for kids to climb walls. Too bad, Buddy is below the minimum height of 1.3m.

There was a recruitment at the clockwork tower for performers, and we tried to get buddy to go for it. But when he realized I couldn’t be next to him because parents are not allowed inside the station/shop, he cried and wanted to get out. That was when I got a little worried, wondering if he was going to be clingy and not participating in any activities at all. We looked around, and my husband asked him if he wanted to learn to make pizza at Pizza Hut, and he said yes. Ok, since he likes pizza, perhaps he would be willing to do it on his own?

Buddy and I joined the line for the pizza session while my husband continued to scope out Kidzania. On the first storey, he spotted the movie theatre! And guess what was screening?


I asked Buddy if he wanted to go for TMNT or pizza; no prize for guessing his preference. Thus, Buddy went for his first audition at the Nickelodeon acting academy!

When the director started assigning the roles (the kids are supposed to close their eyes and not know what they would get), my husband and I were holding our breath and keeping our fingers and toes crossed for Buddy. Two girls were given the turtle costumes, then an older boy. Will Buddy get the last one? Yes, he got to play Donatello! My husband and I cheered loudly. (I know we are acting like helicopter parents.) But when you have a little guy who needs a little boost of confidence, this is something to celebrate. I mean, he’s the smallest child in the group!

And…. we have the turtles on stage!

The end, when everyone took a bow.

The acting academy also provided costume parade for kids. They really look adorable dressed up in Peranakan attires while swaying to the upbeat Malay songs.

Buddy’s next “job” was being a soccer player. This is one of the popular stations and the kids had a lot of fun. Unfortunately, his team lost to the other side.

We could only manage 3 stations despite staying almost the whole day. The problem is that the long wait time for each session. Buddy’s last  role was learning to make ice cream at the Paddle Pop shop.

Looking at Buddy in his job plays, it dawned on us that he is still a very small boy.  Since the minimum participating age for kids at Kidzania is 4 years old, naturally he is one of the youngest kids around.  But he performed very well in all the roles, waiting patiently on his own in the line with older kids, listening closely to instructions, and most importantly, having fun. So it turned out my initial fear was unfounded after all.

And finally, for his reward, Buddy got an ice cream.

Buddy also learnt to open a bank account and deposit money earned into it.

It was a hard time getting Buddy to leave Kidzania, and we had to promise him a return. For the next trip, we are determined to get a session for the pilot training and the firestation where kids  get to ride on a fire truck and put out fire! (Not real of course.)



The tickets for Kidzania are not cheap: S$60 for a kid and S$30 for each adult. Which is why it’s best to stay for the whole day, especially since once you leave the premise, you cannot return without getting another ticket. This also means you have to get your meals onsite, and food options are not great since mostly fast food and snacks are available, not exactly healthy stuff. Considering this is an occasional sinful eat, we can live with that, unless you want to BYO.

Because of the long hours spent at Kidzania, it’s actually a good idea to have a staycation at Sentosa when you can spend time exploring other attractions for kids as well. Like we stumbled upon Port of Lost Wonders, a water playground, the next morning. My husband spotted a running track and wanted to go for a run. We had to wait for him somewhere and decided to check out PoLW which is next to it. I had initially thought it was some playground with water canon, and didn’t expect it to be a full-fledge water play. In order for both Buddy and I to enter, we had to get swim wear at the shop.

Buddy had so much fun that he didn’t want to get out of the water for lunch when papa returned. In fact, he wanted to learn swimming, something he didn’t want to do when we had previously broached the subject. Too bad I couldn’t take any pictures as I had to be in the water with him. So, do bring your kids to PoLW which I’m very sure they will enjoy. Besides, the tickets are not expensive: I only paid S$10 for both Buddy and myself.

When it comes to accommodation, I cannot recommend Amara Sanctuary. Sure, we were upgraded to a bigger premier room when we checked in, and it is indeed pretty spacious as you can see from the picture below.

However, there is one phrase that rings true all the time: there is no such thing as a free lunch. One of the first things I noticed was that the water flow wasn’t good in the wash basin, but I could deal with that. However, soon after,  my husband noticed a background noise that sounded like a pump. It didn’t seem like coming from the aircon vent but somewhere above the ceiling. He called the front desk about it but no response seemed to be forthcoming and so I went out to investigate.

I suspected there was some engine located on the roof, and our room, situated on the 4th/highest level and right smack in the middle of the corridor, was below it. I told the hotel manager that we needed a change of room to level one which was not affected by the noise. She said all rooms were occupied at that level and she would look at other rooms for me. But first thing, she wanted to check out for herself the situation. When I saw her again, she was with a technician who admitted that there was a pump on the roof and that he had switched it off and activated another pump instead. The noise went away as expected and we thought everything should be fine and continued with our stay.

That night, after we returned from dinner, the water flow in the bathroom sink was basically still, and the aircon didn’t seem to be working well. Next thing we knew, the pump sound came on. (Some guest must have complained about the poor flow and aircon and so the hotel had no choice but to switch on the pump.) This time, we insisted on a change of room. We were given a deluxe room (which is smaller) on the 3rd level, but at least we didn’t have to suffer sleepless night.

The other thing which we realized during our stay is the many PRC tourists at the hotel. No offense, but when there is a proliferations of them the service standard tends to deteriorate. It is very apparent in the breakfast buffet spread, which consists of mostly carb and hardly any meat. It was one of the worst breakfasts I’ve ever had, and reminded me of the one at Disneyland Resort Hotel in Hong Kong where the abovementioned tourists made up more than 50% of the clientele. Unfortunately, there is no way we could have known this before scoping out the hotel first. So we decided to check out Le Meridien  Hotel’s guests at the lobby, and there is a good mix of international clientele. The place also seems rather genteel and plus the good location, it’ll be our choice for our next staycation at Sentosa.

However, one thing I have to give to Amara Sanctuary is that the hotel staff did acknowledge that it was their fault that clear instructions were not provided in the letter for entry into Sentosa. The fee couldn’t be reimbursed to us but we were offered a late check-out the next day, which we accepted. This had allowed us to discover PoLW. So, all in all, I must say it was still quite a fun experience, especially for Buddy. And having a staycation is great for a short break.

The fabulous cheongsams for the seasons

I know it is not even Christmas yet least alone Chinese New Year, but I am sure some are eager to check out the stunning Cheongsams available for the festive Seasons. Besides, who says you can’t wear qipao for the yule tide celebration?

When you pick a gorgeous dress, it is not just about the design, it has to show quality workmanship. I am presenting here some cheongsams from two boutiques known for their fine tailoring skill. First of which is Hana. I know I have mentioned a few times that its cheongsams can look a little ornate to the point of seeming matronly. But they certainly do get a  second look because of  the excellent fabrics and sewing. Some of the dresses do have amazing prints or the embroideries like this cheongsam on the left below. I like the floral print which reminds me of a painting. Anyway, you’ll be seeing lots of red color around since it is  a favorite for Chinese New Year, and is also appropriate for Christmas. 

The other brand featured here is Lai Chan. I have mentioned, numerous times, the exquisite workmanship of his clothes and of course, the beautiful fabrics and interesting designs.  Though these dresses are in the traditional straight cut style, Lai Chan knows how to spice things up with little details; be it fluffy binding, faux pearls or crochet floral embroidery. In fact he has always been bold in trying something new. Check out the tweed cheongsams below! Few use unconventional fabrics like he does.



Granted, for these high quality cheongsams, the price tags don’t come cheap. But that is to be expected because you certainly do get what you pay for, and besides these are one of a kind dresses. There is no worry of anyone wearing the same dress as you anywhere. If you ask me for a comparison, I will say that a Lai Chan’s dress, at half the price of Hana’s, is much more value for money. The former has a big edge in terms of beautiful and interesting designs. If you are thinking of getting a special cheongsam, check out Lai Chan’s boutique, and by the way, this is not a sponsored post. I am truly impressed with his dresses!

The new cheongsam collections 

Two brands have recently launched their new collections.The Happy Cheongsam finally released new designs after a long hiatus, called “The Batik Collection”, on 7 November. The last time new designs were released was the Chinese New Year launch in January. I understand Ming, the designer and founder, has been busy as a first time mom.

This is a considerably smaller collection, with only four dresses. As seen in the pictures below, only the first design is significantly different from the rest. The other three are basically similar. Nonetheless, I have to say the design and juxtaposition of prints make for interesting combinations. On a whim, I asked Buddy which of the cheongsams is the prettiest and he pointed out Ïndigo. My sentiment exactly! 

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Indigo

 

Sissae‘s latest cheongsam launch is called Allure. Other than the first picture showing an ultra mini dress, the rest are rather demure looking. The designs are of the classic cut, nothing really modern looking. Probably the collection is targeted for Chinese New Year.

Though I like the prints and embroideries on the Sissae cheongsams, which look really pretty and intricate, I have a beef with the sewing quality.  Take a look at the puckering seams on this jade green cheongsam below (it is the one with the Chinese lattice print on the front shown above). 

I was taken in by the print in the front view, but was put off by the puckering seams on the back which looks absolutely shoddy! In fact, if you look closely at the black and red cheongsams in the pictures above, you can see signs of it along the front seams as well.

The puckering problem is also seen in this THC design, Azura.

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Recently I asked a very experienced designer/tailor about the puckering seam problem, and he explained that there are a few reasons for this. One, the designer/tailor does not understand the property of the fabric and hence not know how to handle it. Another possible reason is that the fabric was stretched too tightly when it was being sewn, and so puckering happened upon release. It is also a problem when the fabric is not stretched tightly enough.  I think the designers at both THC and Sissae should study and experiment on different fabrics.before embarking on the design process, as well as conduct more stringent quality check on the sewing. 

The PurpleCloud cheongsams

A few weeks ago, I was walking along OUE link bridge when I spotted a boutique with cheongsams on display. It is called Frockalicious, a shop that offers not just qipaos but working dresses and formal gowns. I didn’t have time to browse through the selections and so returned on another day. This time, I spoke briefly with the owner, Jennifer Choi, who told me that the cheongsams were not designed by her, and instead from a fashion brand called “PurpleCloud”. I did a little research and found that it was the brainchild of a Singaporean duo, who wanted to create whimsical cheongsams.

The facebook post of PurpleCloud does not have many pictures, and instead I obtained the kind permission of Jennifer to lift images from her site. Not all the cheongsams are striking, in my opinion, and I only selected those that caught my eyes.

Let’s start with the classic cut. For those who prefer the traditional look, here is a lace cheongsam that will not go wrong in any formal occasions or even for a client meeting. 

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One of the dresses that attracted me is this red lace overlay qipao, which oozes sexiness. 

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I am liking another lace cheongsam here; particularly the floral print. 

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If you prefer the modern look, there are a number of choices such as these below. I am sure many ladies will be pleased that the collars are also shorter compared to the traditional style.

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This interesting piece below is an eye-catching origami style cheongsam with drawstring. It is part of a 4-piece Japanese picnic collection. 

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Check out this stylish skater style cheongsam! 

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For an Audrey-Hepburn look but with an oriental twist, we have one in gingham cheongsam and the other in babydoll cut.

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This piece below is one of my favorites! A mini cheongsam with modern print that comes with matching jacket. A very  chic looking ensemble! 

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Another outstanding piece is this gorgeous red short dress with a peekaboo lacy back. This is the cheongsam equivalent of the LBD. 

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Finally, the dress that bowled me over! A regal long cheongsam inspired by the kimono. I find the design and the print absolutely amazing!

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When I was at the shop, I took pictures of a modern cheongsam which is not listed in the website. A simple piece which goes well for office wear.

Generally, in terms of workmanship, I would say it is pretty alright for the prices the cheongsams are going for, which are in the range of between S$129 and below S$300. Of course you cannot expect the quality of Studio 55, least alone Lai Chan. But if you compare with Blum or the mid-range brands, I think the PurpleCloud cheongsams are worth considering. 

New cheongsam launches

I haven’t been updating on many cheongsam brands lately, especially for Joli Pretty, which has  had two launches since I last featured it. Blame it on my obsession with Pokemon Go. Man, the game is pretty addictive for me! Anyway, I decided that I have to refocus my attention back to my favored wear.

JP launched its latest collection on 19 October, a very early Chinese New Year preview. There are all dresses except for one top, and I notice the love affair with the Japanese kimono look is still ongoing. Overall, I don’t find any designs worth shouting out, nothing that stands out to make me have a second look. 

I’m afraid the same sentiment applies to Lark and Peony. The brand has launched a preorder for the Undercurrent series, designs with lace overlay on Japanese fabric. The cheongsam, in the USA classic cut, comes in the three colors: pink (as shown), green and burgundy. 

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The collection includes a new design, a 2-piece culottes, which I am sorry to say, doesn’t look very presentable to me. It reminds me of sleepwear. 

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So, I’m not exactly impressed with L&P’s latest collection either. 

Shanghai Tang has just launched six limited edition cheongsam designs, though a couple of them are still not available in store yet. According to the website, there are less than 10 pieces per dress and can only be purchased online or from a few stores worldwide. The cheongsams are in the classic cut, made from luxurious material. 

Take a look at this qipao below left, it’s made from calf leather with laser cut pattern to resemble lace. It is retailed at more than S$5,000.

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Here we have an elegant velvet cheongsam, which will be available soon.

Next, a jacquard cheongsam with crystal. 

Another calf leather cheongsam, but with embroidery.

And finally, a fully beaded cheongsam that retails at a whopping S$11,000! 

For those who is not looking for the red carpet look, you can consider the below designs which are more versatile. 

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To be honest, though the limited edition cheongsams do look exquisite, but in terms of style, I prefer those from 2015. I think Shanghai Tang is merely relying on expensive materials to boost this year’s  limited edition line instead of showcasing amazing designs like what they did last year. 

Anyway for the next post on cheongsam, I will be featuring designs from a shop I have recently discovered.