A few days ago, I received a message from this lady, Ann, who has just set up an online cheongsam store with her sister. They launched their first collection on Wednesday past, 25 June, and asked if I could review the designs. I am happy to do that since I am always interested to see what is new out there.
Ann explained that both she and her sister got the idea to start the store when they had difficulty finding pretty cotton cheongsams for themselves and Ann’s 2.5 years old daughter for Chinese New Year.The online boutique is called Joli Pretty, and for their first collection there are eight dresses available (for grown ups only). I guess they will design for little girls when their dresses gain popularity.
To be honest, my impression of the designs is “seen that, nothing new”, though the fabrics seem to be of higher quality (judging from the pictures). The description states premium cotton fabric, and Ann told me they sourced the materials from various countries, and vetted several seamstresses during the past year to find those skillful enough to meet their requirements. (I guess they can exchange notes with the founders of other online boutiques.)
Of the cheongsams available, most are sleeveless dresses with pleated bottom. Like this below, which has a netting petticoat (called ‘can-can insert’ in the description), the only unique feature as far as I can see. I presume that is to give the skirt a full look, and it is the only dress with the petticoat in this collection.
There are two dresses with the straight cut design. The one below looks like the traditional form but not; there is a seam along the waist, unlike the traditional dress which has long panels down the front and back. Because of this, the fabric will not drape as well on the bodice, but you get side pockets in the dress.
By the way, I don’t like the pink hibiscus print, which I find pedestrian.
And there are those with print on the top and block color for skirt. This comes with a bow at the right waist. What I don’t understand is why are some of this design come with side pockets but not others.
I also feel that the collar of these dresses is on the short side. I would prefer it to be at least half an inch higher.
So there you have it, a modest first collection which is, unfortunately, not very exciting. I hope to see interesting designs and higher collar in the next one, or at least some designs with higher collar.
On a separate note, if you are wondering what constitutes a high collar, well, using my cheongsams as a gauge, I have a tailor-made dress with really high collar at 7cm. But I understand that may be too much, so there are others like the Blum cheongsams with relatively high, but not uncomfortable, collar length of 5cm. The OBP batik dress has collar of 4.5cm which is fine as well. So the sweet spot for collar (for me at least) is either 4.5cm or 5cm high.