On the upmarket/expensive cheongsams, which I classify as those priced above S$250, there are (interestingly) quite a number of shops offering them out there. Does this mean there is a significant market for them? One interesting observation is that most of these high-end cheongsams are in the classic form.
Hana is one which offers excellent quality and one of a kind cheongsams (unique pieces) at the cost of an arm and a leg. Each dress goes for more than S$1,600! The dresses are generally rather old-style; they have the traditional high collars, with front opening, and without piping or fabric buttons. The prints tend to be loud, and some dresses have embroidery or beads on them. In fact you can say the dresses are practically shouting “look at me!”, but they are reminiscent of the cheongsams wore by Maggie Cheung in the movie “In The Mood For Love”.
I do not know how much the tops are, but I won’t be surprised they cost a limb too. To be honest, I don’t find the designs very appealing, but the workmanship is really good and material quality is top notch.
Another boutique similar to Hana is Lai Chan at Raffles Hotel. I had only checked out the boutique once, but couldn’t take any pictures because there was no cheongsam at the window display. I guess I can approach the designer to ask for approval or images.
Anyway, if you baulk at paying a four-figure sum for a cheongsam but is still willing to splurge on a good quality dress at half the price or a few hundred bucks, there are a number of boutiques for you to choose from. There is Blum, which has many stores around the island. In fact there are two within Raffles Place. I have to give it to them for sourcing fabrics with such gorgeous prints. In fact many of the dresses look rather regal, and you can wear one of them to a royal party and still stand out.
For this coming Chinese New Year, I must say the dresses look pretty good in general, unlike previous years where there were hits and misses. But I think this is because the designers are sticking to the tried and tested classic form. The dresses are in the range of S$350 to S$400, and I understand that the top fabric is silk whereas the lining is polyester.
Over at One Raffles Place (ORP), there are a couple of shops offering the high-end cheongsams on the 4th level. One is Vougeois (#04-20), which has been around for a number of years. Their dresses range from S$279 to S$399, with the the top material being natural silk and the lining is man-made silk.
When I first saw the blue dress above, I didn’t think much of it because it looks like a plain classic cheongsam. But there was a lady fitting on the same dress in green color (slight peek in the picture), and I thought she looked pretty good in it. That got me tempted by the dress, or maybe it’s the color.
Vougeois cheongsams are either in block colors, suitable as office wear, or with some embroidery or beading, good for formal occasions, and they come with high collars as well. Though they cater to the modern women because they have hidden back zip for easy wear.
During one of my previous recent post, I featured one of the Vougeois cheongsams which I felt had sloppy seams along the hemline. So this time I did a quick check and found the quality to be better.
There is a relatively new boutique at ORP called “Amanda” (named after the owner), located at #04-33/34. A couple of weeks ago, I walked past it and found cheongsams hanging on the racks. Went in to check out, but couldn’t take any pictures because the staff told me that permission was needed from the owner.
I was there again, yesterday, and luckily Amanda was around, and she gladly allowed me to do so. There are not a lot of selections as it seems the mainstay of the boutique is office wear, and I suppose cheongsams are added because of CNY. Most of the qipaos are in the straight-fit design though there is one with flare skirt. Amanda offers a mix of mid-range and high-end cheongsams.
The top two designs shown below are more than S$250, in fact the black colored dress is more than S$300. This is because the fabric is a mix of wool and silk. Personally I prefer the maroon/brownish dress in the traditional form, which is more elegant than the black colored one. But perhaps it’s my bias for the classic look.
Now, let’s move to Raffles City mall where the Allure boutique (#02-11) is located. The cheongsams are of silk fabrics and tend to be a little shorter. Again the tried and tested classic design, with simple trimmings.
Further down is Tong Tong Store at level one of Shaw Tower. The designs veer toward the avant garde, and somw of them are so modernized that one can hardly tell that they are cheongsams.
Tong Tong have cheongsams in either cotton fabrics or brocade, and even for those in the former, you have to fork out S$339 for one, and another hundred bucks more for the brocade dress. This year, Tong Tong is also offering cheongsam dresses and tops for little girls, and they go for more than S$100.
To be honest, I’m not sure how TT justify the high-end pricing for the cotton cheongsams. I know that studio 55 also offers cotton cheongsams at similar pricing, but I have seen their fabrics and they are almost like silk. Really soft and luxurious to the touch, and for that I can understand the higher price point. But I guess every boutiques have their loyal customers. In fact, now that CNY is arriving in a few weeks’ time, many of the shops are bustling with customers trying out the cheongsams.
So you can see from the above designs, despite the dresses being in the classic form, the cheongsams from the different boutique are really different from each other. The type of fabrics used, the prints, the trimmings, etc, allow the shops to provide unique offerings to the customers.
Anyway there are more high-end cheongsam shops out there, like Ong Shunmugam, and Cloth.ier as well as online store like Elegente , etc. I will approach some of these designers to request for use of their images for a post on a medley of cheongsams before CNY, and hopefully will get some positive responses. (I will feature Clothier products in my next post.)