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.
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.

Then there is the interesting “Porcelain Bow”, which has the “Tai Tai” (lady of leisure) look about it.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.
Ong Shunmugam 2

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.
Ong Shunmugam 1

Ong Shunmugam 6

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.
Ong Shunmugam 3

Sneak Peek
Our Bitsy Prints provided a peek into an exclusive print for their upcoming collection.

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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