Amanda’s cheongsams 

 This will be my last cheongsam post for Chinese New Year.

Last week I went to Amanda Fashion Gallery located on the 4th level of One Raffles Place to check out their cheongsam designs. I had featured the boutique last year and made the acquaintance of the owner, Amanda. She had given me permission to take pictures of this year’s selections.

The boutique has its own brand called “Athena”, and some of the cheongsams are shown below. There is a wide range of designs on offer, from the classic cut to modern look and lacy dress. I didn’t check the prices of all the dresses, but those I did are not too expensive, retailing at S$199.

  

The boutique also offers a selection of no-label cheongsams which are made in Italy. When I checked with Amanda, she told me that they were from a Chinese designers who focuses on the qipao. The fabric and workmanship are very good, as befitting the Italian quality, and naturally are retailed at a higher price point.


There is a cheongsam jumpsuit available at the boutique, which also comes in a pastel blue color.  

Here is a bright red jacket for CNY.

Before I end off here, I like to wish all readers a wonderful and healthy year of the monkey!  

A cheongsam feast at Laichan

I had to check out Laichan’s cheongsams for the CNY selections. After all, they are known for excellent workmanship, interesting designs and amazing quality. As always, there is a varied collection of designs with amazing fabrics.

Let me showcase the long gowns which there are quite a few this time, and they are seriously Oscar-worthy. Check out this gorgeous lace dress with a short train. Eddie told me that French lace is painstakingly sewn on the underlying pink fabric, and Agate buttons are used on the dress. In fact, in all the clothes showcased here with buttons, semi-precious stones are used.
    
  
  

Another stand-out lace dress with a revealing back and aquamarine buttons. The lace fabric is simply exquisite, this is one stunning cheongsam! 
  
  

Eddie told me the lace dresses are also available in shorter length but they have all been sold out. Why am I not surprised?

If you want something a little more discreet, here is a really elegant looking gown with just a splash of floral lace  on the left shoulder. Amethyst buttons are used. 
  

Now we come to the short dresses. This lace cheongsam may have less flourishing details but it is just as stunning as the ones shown above. 
  
Below, we have a modern fuchsia cheongsam with zip instead of button.

 
  
According to Eddie, Laichan is always thinking of ways to make his cheongsams different. This time he experimented with a different position for the darts on the bodice: horizontal. To be honest, I am not sure I like this look but it is indeed contrary to the usual cheongsam you see elsewhere.

 
  

Another interesting modern piece, and one which I give a thumbs up to is this purple cheongsam. Note the folded collars and the different dart positions. Eddie also told me that, contrary to appearance, the fabric is not tweed, and instead it is a cotton blend for comfortable wear in our tropical climate. I must confess I am always amazed by the fabrics sourced by Laichan for his designs. 
  

The following cheongsams are in stretchy Japanese cotton, and are part of the new collection. I especially like the one in white with print of beaded chains.  
  
  
  
 Now we come to the cheongsam tops in a range of gorgeous fabrics. 

 
  
The below blouse is made of a soft brocade on the front and collar and of denim material for the back. The brocade has a beautiful shimmer to it, and looks luxurious. 
  

A different sort of cheongsam top with a retro feel to it. I understand from Eddie that the 1970’s style is back in fashion, as seen on Gucci’s runway show.

  

Here we  have a jacket in gold lamare. Perhaps a little too opulent looking? 

Finally, we have a sheer chiffon cheongsam top for a casual look.

 
  

For those clothes with buttons, there are altogether 18 of them, and this is an auspicious number for the Chinese (symbolizing prosperity). You might feel that it is a pain to do up 18 buttons, but think of it as putting on a good luck charm.

So there you have it, another fabulous cheongsam collection from Laichan!

The M&M cheongsams (updated)

Last week, I was given permission by the boutique, Mama & Misse, to take photos of the cheongsams at the International Plaza outlet where M&M is located on level 2. However it wasn’t really a carte blanch photo-taking session as I could only take shots of five pieces. This my first visit back to the store after it was closed for refurbishment for a few months last year. I must say the interior doesn’t seem to have change much. Anyway here are my picks from the store:

First is a multicultural cheongsam, resplendent in purple sari fabric with a touch of gold. The marriage of both Chinese and Indian features is well executed indeed. This is priced at S$298.

Another dress that I had my eyes on: an eyelet fabric cheongsam with scalloped collars. Despite its seeming simplicity, I find it rather pretty. Notice that the inseam is sewn nicely as well; this goes for S$328.

Another multicultural dress: a marriage of Chinese and Malay with the use of really beautiful batik prints. Notice the different patterns on the front and back which reflect the two complementary designs found on a piece of batik fabric. 

    

I also have a Batok cheongsam from M&M, but too bad it doesn’t have the different prints like this one. And check out the intricate floral buttons below. This dress is priced at S$298.

I thought more care can be given to the collar inseam.  

We have a formal cheongsam here for cocktail events or special occasions. The lace appliqué is rather exquisite, and the front slit makes this a head-turner. If you are interested, this dress is tagged at S$438.

 
  
  

Finally, we have a cheongsam top with a back zip. This comes with interesting multicolored piping and stone buttons (look like jadeite).

 

I find that the bottom inseam is nicely sewn together, but, again, the one around the collar is a little shoddy. Anyway this is retailed at S$188.
  
  

Most of the cheongsams in the boutique are in the classic figure hugging design. There are also long dresses available for formal events. So, if you are looking for something different like cheongsam with pleated bottom or A-line cut etc, you won’t have much to choose from. 

(Update on 2 Feb)

I finally found out why the boutique appears to have hardly changed since I was there last year. There was initial plans to refurbish the place but it was scrapped.

 

 

Spring cheongsams at Isetan Scotts

The other day, I found out that Sissae has a pop-up store at Isetan Scotts for this CNY, which stocks  current collections as well as some exclusive designs. Since I have not seen  any of the clothes for myself, other than online, I decided that I should go check them out.

I have mentioned in my previous posts that there are also pop-up stores from Peter Kor and Cloth.ier available at this department store, located on the second level.

The three pop-up stores are placed close to the escalators, with Cloth.ier selections having a prominent signage, and both Sissae and Peter Kor’s selections next to each other.

A Sissae dress on the left, and a Peter Kor dress on the right.

I noticed some new designs from Peter Kor that I didn’t see at his boutique, like the above batik floral dress is new to me.  It also comes in purple and pink. Many of the cheongsam selections are in the classic cut with floral prints.

Below are the Sissae’s collections, including the latest called “Blooming Spring”, with lots of red and pastel colors. I tried the pastel blue dress as shown on the right.

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When I look at a cheongsam, one quality feature that I check is the inseam, because I think that it’s a reflection of the workmanship and care put in by the designer. So when I went through the dress, I was quite disappointed. The price range of Sissae  designs veers to the high-end, and they are in fact slightly more expensive than Peter Kor’s. You would expect that much attention to be placed on the tailoring, and yet, like Blum & Co, the workmanship (of the inseam) looks like a rushed job. I get the impression that the seamstresses had to churn out dresses after dresses as fast as they could and there was little attention to the details or how they were done. At this price, I can get a really well tailored cheongsam from Peter Kor or Cloth.ier.

Even the cheongsam from Allure, below in tie-dye print, has nicely-done inseam. By the way, it’s on sale at S$99 (I think it’s from the previous collection). I like the scalloped collar, which is quite unusual, and like the Sissae cheongsam, the faux chest flap is to the left. (FYI, it has a hidden back-zip.)

Here are a couple of modern cheongsams from Allure, at S$199 each.

There are cheongsams from other brands available at the store. So if you are looking at getting one, Isetan Scotts is a good one-stop shop to check out the different brands and designs. If you have an Isetan card, you get 15% discount on Peter Kor’s collection. And if you don’t, you can apply for one on the spot at S$10 for a 2-year membership.

The high end cheongsams

As promised, here are the options for the high end cheongsams, which I define as anything at S$300 and above. I am only featuring a few boutiques here.

First on the list is Blum & Co. One thing I have to say about its designs is that the company has always managed to produce rather interesting styles, and many of their dresses have beautiful prints. But I find that the workmanship is often not up  to mark, and for the price the dress is sold at, it is rather annoying. Even during a sale when I can get a dress at half price, I will end up paying a significant amount for major alteration work. And even when I send for alteration, there is not much fabric allowance in the lining for expansion even when there is sufficient dress material. It’s unbelievable that the boutique didn’t consider this.

Anyway here are some of the cheongsams available now, which, strangely, are not as many as compared to last year. There is hardly any new design as well; it’s like there is a dearth of ideas among the designers this year.

  


  

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A boutique you can consider for excellent workmanship is Hana, though the cheongsam style stays  mostly the same classic cut. If you are going for a modern look, this is not the place.

 

Finally, we have Shanghai Tang, which has released a few more modern cheongsams for the SS 2016 collection.

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The many cheongsam looks at Studio 55

It has been a year since I last featured Peter Kor’s cheongsams, sold at his boutique, Studio 55, located at Purvis Street. I’ve been meaning to check them out again last year, but somehow never got to it. Finally I was able to do so last Monday, and I’m glad I did. The collection showcases how the cheongsam has moved forward through Peter’s creativity.

For this Chinese New Year, Peter is using stretchy silk fabric for his dresses, which can be hand washed. There are also cotton dresses, as well as a couple of them in really luxurious French cotton fabrics. The chinoiserie prints are also featured here, and I must say the one seen below has a very interesting 3D effect.

Here we have a classic cheongsam in a different sort of floral print:  European wild flowers.

A few months ago, I was thinking of the different ways to modernise the cheongsam, and the idea of a wrapped dress popped into mind.  Voila! Peter has that materialised in his designs below. (No, I didn’t give him the idea, in fact I didn’t follow up on it.)


Check out the tassel belt!

Another interesting modern design with a peek-a-boo chest opening and gathers in the front skirt.

   

A beautiful batik-print dress with peplum, which also comes with a chest slit.
   

Here’s a design that plays on the gathers on a flamenco dress, something Peter had done last year.

   

The stretch cotton cheongsam below may look simple, but the interesting geometrical print makes it different from the regular classic cut. This is what I like about Peter’s designs – the unusual prints. 

When I first spotted this elbow sleeved dress, I didn’t think much of it. But on further looks, it grows on me. I returned to the boutique yesterday hoping to try it, but it’s sold out!
  

We now come to dresses made using French cotton/polyamide fabrics. The material is rather heavy and it exudes luxurious quality. A simple style is suffice to show off its beauty.

I especially love this deep purple/maroon dress. It is really beautiful!
   

The prices of the stretch silk and cotton dresses are at S$299,while the dresses in French fabrics are at S$499. During this period leading to CNY, Studio 55 has pop-up stores at both Isetan Scotts and Metro Paragon. So if you are interested in the designs, you can check out the selections at Orchard road as well. 

Do note that Peter’s dresses tend to run on the small side. Even for my slim physique, I have difficulty fitting into a size 36 (small), as it is rather tight at the waist. I have to go for size 38, and even then the waist has to loosen a little. The boutique does offer alteration service to customers. 

Cheongsam, cheongsam, everywhere!

Ladies, you are seriously spoilt for choice! There are so many different cheongsam designs and price range available this year!

For those who just want to get a qipao for the Chinese New Year, and is very price-conscious, you can actually get a dress for less than S$50. The boutique, The Showcase, at Raffles X-change is offering varying designs at very decent prices. Of course, you should also bear in mind that you get what you pay for.

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Over at the temporary sales hall, right in the middle of the retail space, there are racks and racks of dresses including cheongsams. I must say for this low price, the prints are not too shabby, but workmanship is another question.
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You can also get a cheongsam at Missy Style boutique at The Arcade for S$62.

Otherwise, there are the online options. Dressabelle offers dresses for less thanS$50, while Alyssandra‘s dresses are priced below S$70. They have the usual floral prints and designs, nothing fancy.

For the range which is slightly more expensive, that is a little more than S$100, there are cheongsams from Nana@Arcade as seen below. I am not sure what fabric the top dress is made of but the bottom dress is of cotton material. Most of them are not lined. The shop owner told me that he only offers one size for each dress and so the customers are spared the embarrassment of wearing identical pieces. Still, despite the uniqueness, I don’t find the prints appealing. In fact they look a little like curtain prints to me. However, the readers may have a different opinion, and so if you are interested, the shop is offering 20% discount during this Chinese New Year period.

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Here is a cheongsam spotted at another boutique at The Arcade.

Going further up the price range, we have selections at Seven which has a store at Chevron House and another at Parkway Parade (as far as I know). You can get qipaos as well as jackets, and the dresses are priced at between S$149 to S$199. There is a mix of presentable lace cheongsams and gaudy showy ones.

 

  

I see another baby doll design here; I guess it’s good for the pregnant ladies or those who want to hide the bulging poochies from too much festive snacks.
   

Another boutique to check out is Xi at Raffles City mall. The cotton cheongsam is only S$99, although I only noticed one cotton piece among the silk dresses on the rack, which are priced at S$239 each. Now, the reason why I spotted the cotton dress is because I recognize the print, which is the same one used by another boutique I featured recently.

The below dress on the window display is a silk cheongsam at Xi. I notice that the chinoiserie theme seems to be a big favorite among the various boutiques this year. There are so many dresses with the Chinese floral or porcelain motif. Maybe it has something to do with CNY.


About a month ago, I was contacted by Golden Scissor Cheongsam to check out its products. I had a brief look at the online pictures and had wanted to feature some of the dresses in the previous post “Cheongsams in Abundance” dated 11 January. But I forgot all about it until a reader informed me she bought her CNY qipaos from the store.

GSC has a shop at Chinatown, and here are some of designs showcased by the boutique.



The price of the ready to wear dresses start from S$68 and goes up to S$198 for a knee-length silk cheongsam, and more for a longer piece. They are also available in a wide range of sizes.

According to GSC owner, the boutique prides itself on focusing attention on the details found in a traditional cheongsam such as the double piping, fabric buttons and fitted chest darts etc. As the tailoring is done in house locally, the shop has the flexibility to adapt to customers’ requests.

GSC also offers cheongsam tailoring service starting from S$250 for a knee length dress. And for S$500, you can have three simple dresses made.

I have not seen the cheongsams myself, so I cannot comment on the workmanship and quality. However I don’t find the designs special. I see similar styles from Mama and Misse and Dayglow Vintage. According to the reader who bought the dresses, she feels that the fabric quality is acceptable, though the fit is good as there is alteration service provided.

Then there are the online cheongsams, which are in the price range of between S$150 and S$320. Many designs get sold out pretty fast and so it’s best to be on the subscriber list to receive the launch updates. Like over the past couple of days, there were new collections from  Lark and Peony and The Happy Cheongsam. THC launched part 2 of its CNY collection last evening with four dresses and two tops, and already a couple of designs have sold out.  My favorite of the THC dresses is the below cheongsam in a beautiful royal purple hue, which also comes in a pink version. I thought the combination of the modern and traditional is very well executed.

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As for LP, only two lace cheongsams are launched, but  they are both lovely. I particularly find this blue lace dress a standout. It looks like most customers agree too because it was sold out within an hour.

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You will notice that I only feature Singapore-based boutiques so far. If I have time, I will check out the cheongsams available overseas like Malaysia, Indonesia and China. A reader just told me she bought 2 dresses from Taobao, the Chinese equivalent of Amazon. Naturally those are from Chinese boutiques. I don’t know why but their designers have a penchant for gaudy and weird styles.  Sophistication doesn’t seem to exist in their dictionaries. Sure, there are some pretty acceptable modern cheongsams but they are few and far between.

Anyway, for my next posts, I will feature the high end cheongsams.

 

 

 

 

The return of the Cloth.ier cheongsam 

A year ago, I was approached by Ping of Cloth.ier to check out her store, Ju Xiang Zai, at Marina Bay Sands. It is the brand name of the Cheongsam designs of a Chinese designer, and Ping is the franchisee in Singapore. Though the shop did stock some designs from the Cloth.ier brand. 

Previously, Cloth.ier had a number of stores in the city, including one at Raffles Place, and it was one of the few cheongsam boutiques then. (It was in the early 2000’s when online cheongsam stores were unheard of.) But, due to the high rental costs, Ping had to close down all the stores, and ended up running only Ju Xiang Zai.

A few months ago, Ping gave me a heads up that she was planning the reopening of  Cloth.ier before Christmas. She contacted me again in late December and invited me over for a viewing at the new boutique.
The store is located at Tanglin Shopping Center, #B1-07 (behind the taxi stand). Finally, there is a new home for the Clothier cheongsam! There is also a reversal of the situation this time. There are some Ju Xiang Zai designs available instore as it turns out Ping did not renew the lease at the MBS retail space last year. 

The new boutique has a warm and clean line decor, and there is a relaxed ambience within it, making for a pleasant shopping experience. In fact it reminded me of the MBS shop. Over here, there are dresses as well as jackets available. Ping also plans to launch cheongsam tops which were very popular previously.

First, let’s check out the stretch cotton cheongsams which look pretty good. I especially like the modern abstract floral print of the middle dress. They are not lined, and though they are in the traditional cut including having side buttons, there is actually a back zip for convenient wear. The cut-in style of the collar gives the dresses a modern feel too. The attention to details and workmanship is pretty good.

Jadeite buttons are used on the dress below, but they are really decorative pieces.

   

  

The cotton dresses are retailed at S$168. At the price range of S$148-168, you can also choose from polyester and linen cheongsams.  The below left picture of a porcelain print yellow dress is made from polyester fabric while the one on the right is a linen dress. Personally, I find the dresses have an old-style feel to them because of the conservative prints.

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For those who prefer silk, here are some of the styles available. Like the cheaper dresses, these are also designed for the modern women with back zips.

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Then there is the cheongsam made from raw silk, which Ping said that few appreciate. Despite this, she still had one made in this checkered print.

The short silk dresses are priced at S$298, and for the long cheongsam, they are in the range between S$468 to S$688.

Ping asked me for my opinion on the dresses, and I pointed out that they are still mostly of the usual floral prints (the same feedback I gave her previously). She admitted that it has been difficult to find good quality interesting prints and least alone to have them woven at the China factory, particularly for the silk fabrics. I pointed her to check out locations in Japan or Italy where she might be able to find interesting fabrics. The problem with many of those Chinese-owned fabric factories is that they tend to focus on rather staid, boring floral prints that are perhaps favored by the local Chinese, instead of interesting ones like jacquard fabric. If you throw a stone at the China-made cheongsams, 9 out of 10 would be of the floral-centric prints.

While I was at the store, Ping also showed me a couple of loose flowy dresses. The one below is a chiffon long dress, retailed at S$308.

Here is another in silk linen fabric with a price tag of S$508

Both dresses are pretty long, at ankle length for someone of the height of 1.65m. I told Ping that most Chinese/Asian women are not this tall, and those above 1.7m is even of a rarity. These dresses are more suitable for the tall Caucasian women, and even then, I would recommend them for the older women, like those at least 45 years old. I suggested to Ping that she might consider shortening them to calve length for the Asian women, and the dresses would then be appropriate for the bigger sized ladies. It turns out that she does have shorter dresses available. 

The Chinese jacket is a staple offering at Cloth.ier, and the boutique is offering this for the New Year. Notice that it comes with coin buttons. I think this is not only good for the festive occasion, but also suitable as an office jacket.

Currently, Cloth.ier has pop up stores at Isetan Scott and Takashimaya. However the Takashimaya store is only opened till this weekend whereas the Isetan store is opened till Chinese New Year. So, do check them out if you are interested in any of the designs.

(Note: all pictures are provided by Ping.)

Cheongsams in abundance

With the numerous launches of cheongsams coming fast and furious, I will not review any for this post. Instead, I will showcase what I have spotted while out and about, and the latest designs from the boutiques (including those available online). Let’s start with those from the brick and mortal stores.

Von boutique at OUE Link (Bridge).

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Nana at The Arcade

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Max Tan at Capitol Piazza

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Hana at The Arcade

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Pure Glamour at Tampines One

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Blum boutique (various locations)

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 Online stores

Lark and Peony has launched two collections over the weekend just past. Due to limited quantities, many have been sold out. But L&P is planning more launches leading up to the New Year. If you like the designs, it’s best for you to sign up for updates. Here are some of the new styles.

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Our Bitsy Prints is launching its New Year collection tonight at 9.00PM local time. The collection also get sold out pretty fast, and so it’s a matter of fastest fingers first.

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As mentioned in my previous post, The Happy Cheongsam is launching its CNY collection tonight as well but at 8.00PM local time. Here are the dresses which are not part of the mama-daughter sets. This is just part one, so there’ll be part two coming up.

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With less than a month to CNY, there will be a big feast for the eyes.

Here come the mother and child cheongsam sets (updated)

I have started to notice many retailers jumping into the cheongsam set bandwagon, especially so for the coming Chinese New Year. It looks like putting on similar prints or designs as their kids is very popular with the mommies. I think it was the Malays who started it, with the matching baju kurong, during Hari Raya festivals.

Anyway Miz Apparels boutique was likely the first to provide matching cheongsams, and it also has some of the prettiest dresses for little girls out there. In fact, I have mostly bought the little cheongsams from MA for my various nieces.

For this year, MA is offering more selections of cheongsam blouse instead of dress. I was told that the top comes with matching pants/skirts, and the boutique decided on this combination because it is more convenient for moms with young children.  The little girl dress is as pretty as ever, however I think the matching prints are too kiddy for mom.

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MA informed me that the mama top is S$99 and the little dress is priced at S$69.

Chubby Chubby  is one of the online retailers that is offering cheongsam sets for mama, son and daughter. It is actually a purveyor of baby and children clothes, but for the upcoming CNY, it has ventured into lady dresses for the mamas. Perhaps because this is the first attempt, the designs are comparatively simpler. Though I do like simplicity, I find the mama dresses uninspiring and not impressed with the prints (which resemble the cushion or curtain prints). However, at S$118 for a mama dress, which is cheaper than many others available (other than the low-end retailers), I guess you can consider it as a starter cheongsam if you can accept the prints. Separately, CC charges S$55 for a little girl dress and S$46 for a boy’s shirt,

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The Happy Cheongsam is launching part one of its CNY collection next Monday evening local time. There are two sets of mother-daughter dresses of the same design but different colors: one in pastel blue and the other in pastel pink.

I like THC sets very much and find them rather elegant and classy, and certainly very appropriate for moms. The set is priced at S$229 each, and you can get the mama dress separately if you want. However THC hasn’t given me the price for it yet. Judging from the price range of its dresses, I would say it is upward of  S$150. (Update: I just received info from THC that the mama dress is S$179.)