Two Fridays ago, a friend sent me a link to an article from Her World Plus, featuring cheongsams from 11 stores, with prices ranging from the cheap to expensive. I notice that, other than one (Intoxiquette), I had featured these retailers in my blog. Personally, I feel it was a half-hearted article, and the writer could have chosen better pictures to feature the dresses. Anyway I’m doing my own medley of cheongsam selections for both the kids and adults, so that you can still go for some last minute shopping.
Before I begin, I want to say that I have thought about how I can showcase better cheongsam pictures. Seriously, some of the window display photos suck because of the glass reflection. After advice from my husband, I decided that the best way is to approach the retailers (for the established brands) to request for website or FB photos. So that was what I did, and I’m happy to say that some retailers have agreed: Mama & Misse, Dayglow Vintage, and Jobs and Shop (this online retailer finally got back to me with approval).
First, let’s start off with Bloom B, a children boutique, which I think is from Singapore. I say this because there is no mention on where it originated from in the website, and the store locations are mainly in Singapore, with one in Malaysia.
The cheongsam dresses for the little girls are rather pretty, except for the one with the glittery waist band. (Really, what’s with shiny objects and the female species?) Bloomb B dresses go for above S$60.
Over at Château de Sable, a French children boutique, there is a set of Chinese New Year clothes for the little girl, boy and baby, in salmon red with sheep print. I thought they look rather adorable despite the simple design. Goes to show that simple can be beautiful. And they are all below S$60, which is competitive to the online retailers
Then there are the little cheongsams which can be considered as the mini “getai” (stage show) dresses. Goes to show the adults can transplant their gaudiness to kids.
Now for the adult’s selections. Shanghai Tang has some early arrivals of their SS2015 collection. I like the design of below black dress that also comes in white, and it has such a pretty side knot. But I am more amazed by the price, which is S$1153. I did a little research, and found out that the textured jacquard fabric used (even though it is polyester in nature) is rather expensive. (Jacquard weaving requires time, specialized skill and expensive machinery.) At the same time, I learned that there are merits to polyester fabrics: fast drying, wrinkle resistant, stretch resistant and very durable. By the way, I am not marketing the cheongsam for ST, because, personally, I wouldn’t pay this price for a mass-produced dress.
I haven’t covered Sissae for quite some time. Here are a couple of the cheongsams from the latest Eurasian Doll collecton. Sissae’s dresses are characterized by formal and loud designs with a modern twist.
When I contacted Mama & Misse, to allow me to use its website and FB pictures, I was half expecting no response. So it was a pleasant surprise to get a ready agreement considering I didn’t ask for permission the last time. (I first wrote about M&M in my post “The Search For Cheongsams” dated 6 Aug.) The designer/founder turns out to be a pretty nice person with a good sense of humor.
M&M sees itself as a team and does not differentiate or feature anyone in particular. The email replies are always signed off as “Mama & Misse”, and the word “we” is used when describing how they work, and so I shall follow as well.
I was told by M&M that they design all their dresses, prepare the drafts, and they are also the seamstresses. Their cheongsams lean toward the classic form, and this is what they believe the cheongsam to be. Instead of changing the form, they use fabrics to give the dress a modern twist by using colors and prints. Though there are trimmings such as lace, they are more subtle. M&M sourced their fabrics locally, ranging from the Indian sari to French lace. Their cheongsams cost at least S$250 for those in cotton and more than S$400 for those with French lace.
Now for the more affordable cheongsams in the mid-range. I was alerted by a reader to the qipaos from Dayglow Vintage. I had heard of this online retailer but did not look into the dresses closely, so I contacted the site. Lilian, the designer/founder responded readily in agreememt to my request to use her pictures. She is also willing to share information with me, which I am very appreciative.
From her profile in the website, I found out Lilian was a seamstress before starting the Dayglow Vintage (DV) online store, and she designs clothes, including cheongsams, under the “Dayglow” label. Perhaps it is her sewing background that makes Lilian rather particular when it comes to the fabrics. She mostly uses 100% cotton fabric from USA, and will soak the yards of materials to pre-shrink them and test for color fastness. Her design process starts with drawing out the design, and once she is happy with how it looks, she prepares a life-size draft, then the pre-production sample, and finally send it to the seamstress.
Lilian strives to bring perfection to the dresses she created for her customers. I want to put on the record that I have not seen any of them, but the reader who brought DV to my attention is a regular customer. She told me the dresses are of good quality and reasonable pricing. Personally I think the comment on quality is likely to be true. I find that designers who have backgrounds as a seamstress or tailor are meticulous in their quality process. They understand the technicality, and able to use that to improve their designs and know what works.
On the cheongsams from DV, to be honest, I’m not particularly wowed by the retro styles. Maybe it’s because I’m not a big fan of the look. But one interesting observation I have of the website is that Lilian provided pretty detailed description and specifications of each dress, which is rather rare. So the customers get full details of the dress before buying.
A couple of the current cheongsams:
For those going for budget cheongsams, there is a limited selection from Joop boutique , which has many outlets located in malls, one of which is at Raffles City. The dresses are less than S$70 each.
For even cheaper cheongsams at less than S$30, there is Job and Shop . Like what I mentioned in my post on cheap cheongsams dated 13 Jan, the style reflects the price. I am definitely not a target customer.
Before I end off, I like to inform everyone that May Loh from Walking In May is organizing a first campaign for her blog site called ‘#CheongsamConfidence’. She is requesting women to wear the cheongsam on the second day of Chinese New Year (20 Feb), to make a step towards positive body image since the cheongsam is known to be a challenging dress and unforgiving to its wearer. When May approached me, I told her that being positive about your own body means wearing clothes that fit you well. The wearer has to know what her physique is and find the right design. Though a master cheongsam designer can help to hide the flaws and accentuate the assets (as long as the flaws are not overly excessive), but the master’s work comes with a price. Well, I’m still supportive of women coming out in cheongsams and I’m sure that will be a sight that harks back to the heyday of the dress.