A short take on the cheongsam and fashion in Hong Kong

Before going to HK, I was hoping to check out some cheongsam boutiques there, but I was not sure if I had the time. It turned out that the shop which I was most interested in , Linva Tailor, is actually along the food tour I planned. What luck, and so it was added as one of the stops.

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Linva is located at 38 Cochrane Street, under the Central mid-level escalator (see the overhanging bridge), just before the junction of Gage Street and Lyndhurst Terrace. In case you are not sure, look out for a 7-11 convenience store and Linva is across from it.

At the display window, you can see a row of hanging cheongsams.

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It is a rather small shop, old-style, not much of any decoration, mostly racks of qipao, and a counter top with high stools next to the door. As we were waiting for Mak’s Noodle to open at 11.00AM, my husband was happy for me to browse around so that he could put Buddy down on a stool to watch the iPad.

I found out about Linva Tailor after some online research on cheongsam shops in HK, and I was especially interested in it because the tailor, Mr Leung, was said to have made some of the swoon-worthy dresses worn by Maggie Cheung in the movie “In The Mood For Love”. Since I am a big fan of the film, it was my chance to check out the dresses.

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The tailor, Mr Leung, his wife and an assistant were present. I was served by the assistant and his wife, who suggested some dresses for me to try. Looking through the racks, the dresses are in the traditional cut,  with front panel opening, side zip, high collars and mostly in floral fabrics, pretty much a reflection of the shop. In fact the dresses are appropriate for the 1960’s setting of the Maggie Cheung’s movie.

I picked a simple cap-sleeved dress, which I must admit looks like what a school supervisor or teacher would wear. It is priced at HKD 2,800 (USD 361.27), and if you want to have it made to order in the same fabric, it is HKD 4,200 (USD 541.91).  Linva offers to alter the dress for it if you want to get it right away. For a custom-made dress, it will take a few days because a couple of fittings are required, and the shop will then mail the dress to you. According to Mrs Leung, they have many Singaporean customers who make used of such arrangement.

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I wanted to try a sleeveless dress, considering how humid and warm the Singapore weather is. I was shown this cheongsam made using a Chanel silk fabric and was persuaded to try it. My husband later told me that at first glance, it looked a little old-fashioned for me, but after I tried it on, it turned out pretty well. But I didn’t find it comfortable because the side-zip is prickly, and I also noticed that there was a missing button at the bottom of the front flap

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I took a picture of the under-seam to show the readers a close-up of the workmanship. This dress costs HKD 3,800 (USD 490.30), and a custom-made version is HKD 4,800 (USD 619.32).

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I didn’t get any cheongsam at Linva though I was prepared to. Seriously, I am not impressed with the dresses. Comparing the custom made cheongsams, I can get one of similar quality at Mama & Misse at a cheaper price. And for the price of the silk cheongsam that Linva is charging, I rather get one at Laichan which offers far superior quality and workmanship. If I could, I would have checked out other renowned cheongsam shops in HK which may offer better qualities. But I suspect that I would still go for the Singapore boutiques which offer more compelling products. I  may be presumptuous, but I think  Singapore has caught up with HK in many aspects, and in the case of the cheongsam, I think we have boutique/s which may even have surpassed in term of quality.

As for the fashion scene in general, due to the lack of time, I only explored Popcorn Mall with Buddy. There are a couple of boutiques that offer rather elegant winter wear. One is this shop by the name of “Drex Fable”, which has a rather classy window display and earthy interior décor. The shop offers a preppy style which wouldn’t be out of place in the Northeastern part of the US.

 

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I was a little surprised to spot the Bread & Butter boutique as I thought it only sells jeans (at least the one in Singapore carries branded jeans). I guess there are different shops of the same name.

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While in the Central area, I hardly see anyone whom I would consider as stylish. Maybe I would have seen some fashionistas at the International Finance Center (IFC), but I certainly didn’t see any  on the street least alone any lady in cheongsam. At least in the Singapore financial district, you can still spot some well-dressed people around. But I did notice that the HK ladies are more conservative in their dressing compared to those in Singapore. I remember, eons ago, a HK acquaintance once remarked to me that she was amazed when she took the subway in Singapore, to see the local ladies dressed in tank tops and other skimpy outfits. In HK, they would cover up. In this respect, I have to say that Singapore ladies should be a little less liberal in their fashion sense, because I have seen the younger sets who look like they’re dressed for clubbing instead of work. Seriously, when did ultra-short dresses which the hemlines have to be constantly pull down, or  barebacked dress and top, or the braless style acceptable at work?  (Yes you got it right, my friend J experienced the headlights at work one day). What a difference in terms of fashion culture!

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2 thoughts on “A short take on the cheongsam and fashion in Hong Kong

  1. I have always wanted to check out Linva, even maybe get a wedding qipao made there after seeing the pieces on Maggie, especially because the high collars look so elegant. But does not seem quite worth the price from what you said. Did you manage to take any photos of yourself in the qipao?

    • Hi there,
      I didn’t take any pictures of myself in the cheongsams.
      If you are based in Singapore, I strongly advise you to get your wedding cheongsam here. You can check out Mama & Misse, Lai Chan, Lady Xiang or perhaps The Girl Kaksh. (Though for TGK, I haven’t looked at the quality closely.) I have seen a wedding cheongsam at Lai Chan and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s made of white lace. But the problem is you won’t be able to wear it for other occasions. So I suggest to check out the selections available in store and ask for advice from either Eddy or the assistant or from Lai Chan himself (if he is present).

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