A preview of the New Year cheongsams

2018 Chinese New Year is more than 2 months away, but already boutiques are preparing for launches. In fact, Peter Kor of Studio 55 started his creative process some months back. He didn’t want to repeat the mistake of last year when he had to rush through the designs at the last minute. The fact that the next CNY falls on mid February will help the retailers, in the sense that it provides a breather for shoppers after Christmas.

I was at Studio 55 a couple of days ago and Peter had kindly allowed me to feature some of his new designs, and I can tell everyone that the collection is huge! (Actually I had a sneak preview a couple of months ago of some of the dresses, but of course I couldn’t take any pictures then.) I have to say that I am pretty excited about this range.

So, here are some beautiful cheongsams you can expect from Peter.

Starting off is one of the pieces that I love: an oriental print silk fabric from Italy, which is absolutely stunning! A simple dress that lets the print does the talking.

The below design with the flamenco pleat is the same as one that was launched for CNY last year. The difference this time is the polka-dot print with stone buttons, giving the cheongsam a playful spin that will appeal to the younger crowd.

Peter has again incorporated Japanese cotton print into the CNY cheongsams, which you can wash gently in water. To make the cheongsams interesting, he used interesting trimmings for the collars and the embroidered buttons.

Here’s another piece that I like, the fabric that is reminiscent of a Klimt’s painting.

Look at the French lace covering the collar. It adds a touch of elegance. Another simple cheongsam that stands on its beautiful print.

For those who prefer a modern dress without the high collar, you can opt for this with embroidered buttons. Personally, I wouldn’t consider this a cheongsam though.

Now, the two dresses below are not part of the CNY designs but from the previous collection. I thought I would feature them here in case anyone is interested in something that is not in the red category or something appropriate for work (not that I consider any of the CNY cheongsams as inappropriate).

From Studio 55, let’s move on to other cheongsam retailers. Here we have Hana, with its unmistakable ostentatious embroidered dress that would be very fitting at a wedding.

Blum boutique has started releasing some new designs and here was what I spotted the other day at the window display.

As usual for Shanghai Tang, it offers both the classic and the modern looks, including short collars for those who are not used to having their necks hugged.

If you are looking for an edgy-looking cheongsam, I must say Shanghai Tang does it well, like this blue dress with zip below.

For those who want to look like a million buck even in a casual cheongsam, this is the dress for you.

I can understand if the price tags of the above retailer would put off many women. For something that would be within reasonable budget, you might see something you like from Joli Pretty’s latest collection for 2018. The range of dresses and jumpsuit is priced between S$169 to S$189.

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There will more launches, especially in end of December and beginning of January. I will try not to get distracted by Pogo, and showcase as many as possible in my blog,

 

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The different styles of cheongsams

A few weeks ago, a reader sent me a CNN link of the recommended cheongsam boutiques in Shanghai. Though her intention was not to introduce the boutiques but to alert me to one which claimed to have made the dresses wore by Maggie Cheung in ‘The Mood For Love’ (and it wasn’t Linva of Hong Kong). The boutique in question is Han Yi (瀚艺).

Anyway, after a little research, I think it was very likely the costume designer for the movie approached more than one tailor to make the cheongsams. But what piqued my curiosity is the list, because I want to know why are these the best, and how they distinguish themselves from the rest, especially compared to those in Singapore.

However the article didn’t even provide representative pictures of the cheongsams from each of the shops, and even the descriptions of the designs say very little about them. What does it mean by colorful, unconventional, decadent fabrics? The pictures featured don’t seem to have any relations to the ones offered by the boutiques.  The only boutique I’m familiar with is Shanghai Tang, and I had checked out Qipao by Jane some time ago (and strangely the website has been taken down). I tried to search online for them, but pictures were few and far between. Notably absent is also mention of the workmanship and service.

Now you might be wondering since these are said to be the best in Shanghai, the workmanship would be assumed to be good? Yes, especially since they offer customized cheongsams. So I am curious as to whether they accommodate women with odd physique and the ability to downplay the flaws. I have not seen it for myself, but Eddie of Lai Chan boutique assured me that they do not turn away customers who do not have the typical body shape. He recalled a lady who had really flat bums and Lai Chan designed padding on the dress for her. I have also seen for myself how Gary Lau of Kang’s boutique can make a cheongsam (for a friend) which accentuates the curves and camouflages the flaws.

Anyway, this got me thinking that I should write a post on how the cheongsam designers in Singapore differentiate from one another. Now, this is not a comprehensive list but is based on my knowledge of the designers and the dresses.

Hana

Hana’s designs tend to be a little opulent, even loud or flashy, and looks like something a middle aged or older socialite would go for. The dresses are in the usual classic fit since I suspect that is what its clientele feel that this is what cheongsam is supposed to be.

Laichan

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What else but its distinctive semi-precious stone buttons running from the collar down to the hip? Sure, occasionally there are deviations such as the modern qipaos with backzips, but the row of buttons is uniquely Laichan. It’s no surprise I have a soft spot for the cheongsams because of the beautiful prints and fabrics (sometimes with a dash of whimsy), the amazing workmanship and attention to details, and the good customer service. Despite the classic look featured here, Laichan is capable of ultra modern cheongsam designs.

Peter Kor (Studio 55)

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Peter’s dresses are geared towards the working ladies, with hidden back zips for easy wear, stylish designs and good workmanship for a professional look. Yet they retain the soul of the cheongsam. There are other designers who make cheongsams for the working women, but Peter’s dresses stand out for the rich and quality fabrics and prints, which are mostly sourced from France and Japan. However, I have to add that the onsite alternation is not up to my expectations because the dress wouldn’t fit nicely even after the work, and I had to send it to my regular seamstress to get it fixed. This is a pity since many times the alteration also affected the original excellent workmanship.

Clothier

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Clothier’s qipaos are typically in oriental floral prints with simple fabric button accessories in traditional design. They have reasonably good workmanship and prices are not crazy expensive. Despite the classic look, the dresses have hidden back zip for wearability.

Mama & Misse

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M&M incorporates local cultural elements into its cheongsams, like the use of sari and batik fabrics. The cheongsams are usually in classic design as well, and have a mix of those with back zip or side zip. M&M offers both formal and casual cheongsams to customers, in either silk or cotton fabrics. The prices are similar to those from Peter Kor, but fabrics are not as luxurious.

Lark & Peony

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L&P cheongsam designs are semi-casual and modern. The collars are shorter than usual, there is the shift cut, and even culottes. Fabrics are mostly cotton to accommodate the humid weather here, and the prints have a touch of ethnic or Japanese aesthetics. The traditionalists might not endorse the designs but the brand has its fans.

Jolli Pretty

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JP’s collections have a mix of casual and work wear. The fabrics do not have the interesting prints of L&P, and instead there is an ordinary feel about them. But for those who want affordable cheongsam work wear, below S$200, JP would be the place to get them.

Cheongsam updates 

Some latest news on the cheongsam. 

Peter Kor’s Studio 55 boutique is having a mid year sale for the entire month of June. The cheongsams from past collections are on sale at major discount, from at least 50% off. Some even going for 70% off and others are discounted to as low as S$99.

If you like any of those Chinese New Year dresses I had previously featured in my blog, now is the time to get them at these big discounts. Though, only limited sizes are available. 

For the current W collection, Peter only designed a couple of cheongsams as he focused on work clothes. Here are the two designs I spotted: one modern interpretation, and the other, though in classic cut, has a contemporary print.



While I was at the boutique, Peter revealed that he has started work on the collection for next year’s CNY, which took me by surprise as it seems pretty early to me. He has started late for this year’s designs, and as a result, he was unhappy with some of the shoddy workmanship due to the rush job. So he is starting early this time to make sure the dresses would be up to his expectations. And I was very lucky and pleased when he showed me some of the completed samples. I have to say they are gorgeous! I couldn’t take any pictures of course, but I can assure you the prints and fabrics (from France) are simply amazing. Already, I’m thinking that I would burn a hole in my pocket when the collection is launched. 

Over the past week or so, two brands have launched new dresses again: Joli Pretty and Sissae. For JP, this is the second part of the Spring/Summer 2017 collection.

There is a mixture of jumpsuits, dresses and tops.




Jumpsuit style seems to be trending, because Sissae is also offering it as part of it latest “Virtuous” collection. The designs are in the typical Sissae formal style, but are also ultra modern in looks. Despite having misgivings about the workmanship, I have to admit the designs are pretty striking and remind me of those from the  French couture fashion houses.



That’s it for now, folks! I’ll continue to sniff out other collections and will update then.

The new cheongsam launches 

Things have been pretty slow with the cheongsam collections. There have not been a lot of launches from the online stores over the past couple of months. So far, there was Lark & Peony which launched a few cheongsam tops earlier in April. Finally, yesterday,  Joli Pretty launched a full collection consisting of dresses, jumpsuit and a couple of tops.

Blue seems to be the favorite color for this S/S 17 launch; what with it being so predominantly featured. The dresses and jumpsuits are priced below S$180, and the tops are below S$100. The designs aren’t exactly outstanding but if you are looking for modern and reasonably priced cheongsams, they make presentable work wear.




Another boutique I am featuring here is Sissae, a brand which I haven’t showcased its cheongsams for quite some time. Sissae is known for its chic looking dresses, and it has started to offer simpler designs in linen or cotton fabrics. Overall, the prints and embroideries make the cheongsams look rather elegant and classy; but I find the workmanship doesn’t match up to it. 







Finally, we have Shanghai Tang, which has focused on the classic straight-cut cheongsams for the S/S 17 collection.  I had featured most of them previously, and here are a few of the newer designs. 

Other than the Dragon scale print dress shown in the lowest picture, the other two will set you back a tidy sum of S$2997 and S$3755 for the one on top and in the middle respectively.  The brand justified the price tags by labelling them as limited edition. But they are still not  one of a kind; and there would be at least a few women having the same dress. If I’m going to pay this amount for a dress, it has better be unique. 


Ahhh, it’s the CNY Cheongsam again!

Happy New Year, everyone! I admit this time I’m slow in providing updates on the Chinese New Year Cheongsams. There have been a number of collections launched since November, and I’ve not been keeping track as closely as I should. It’s mostly because work had been crazy during the year end period, which was strange since things were supposed to be quieter. I had taken leave during the lasr 2 weeks of the year, but because of work I had to return to office for a couple of days. Of course, Pokemon Go has also caused some distraction, but at least it does help me to get more active.

Anyway, if you are looking for affordable cheongsams at less than $200 for a dress, you can consider these retailers. Let’s take a look at Joli Pretty, which has had three launches for the festive season thus far. There is a mix of dresses, two-piece culotte set, jumpsuit and top. I’m not sure why the cheongsam jumpsuit is popular among women, since I think going to the toilet will be a pain in the ass. (I’m assuming the retailers continue to provide this design because women asked for it.)

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And of course, there is the mama-daughter cheongsam set, which seems to be ubiquitous for many retailers. JP launched quite a number of such sets this year, and  credit to them for being flexible that you can actually purchase the dresses separately. This is great for women who like the designs but having no daughters do dress up. The bad news is all the sets are sold out.

Our Bitsy Prints has not been as prolific though, with one collection launched for year end, titled “Colour Pop”. Consisting mostly of dresses plus a top in pastel and bold colors as well as showcasing OBP’s love for lace.

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The Happy Cheongsam launched The Noir et Blanc collection sometime in mid December; with only 2 dresses and a top.

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This is one of two mama-daughter cheongsam offerings from THC, but the pieces cannot be bought separately. The entire set is S$249.

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If you are one of those who prefer to try out the clothes before purchase, you can check out Miz Apparels which has two stores located at downtown: Marina Bay Link Mall and One Raffles Place.  You also have the choice of buying online.

I must say that MA’s dresses look rather appealing on the mannequins, however, strangely, they don’t look so good once I put them on. Is it me or what? So, I’m a little reserved about getting any this year, though I may consider a cheongsam top instead.


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MA is known for its mama-daughter cheongsam sets, and the little dresses are some of the most adorable and stylish out there. They are also available separately. Even if you are not planning to get any of the dresses for yourself, do check out the little cheongsams if you have girls. For me, I get them for my nieces. 

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To be honest, in terms of designs and prints, MA has a stylish edge over the others. But somehow I find the look gets a little stale after some time. So I’m searching for something classic and yet modern that can withstand the passing of time. 

 

New cheongsam launches

I haven’t been updating on many cheongsam brands lately, especially for Joli Pretty, which has  had two launches since I last featured it. Blame it on my obsession with Pokemon Go. Man, the game is pretty addictive for me! Anyway, I decided that I have to refocus my attention back to my favored wear.

JP launched its latest collection on 19 October, a very early Chinese New Year preview. There are all dresses except for one top, and I notice the love affair with the Japanese kimono look is still ongoing. Overall, I don’t find any designs worth shouting out, nothing that stands out to make me have a second look. 

I’m afraid the same sentiment applies to Lark and Peony. The brand has launched a preorder for the Undercurrent series, designs with lace overlay on Japanese fabric. The cheongsam, in the USA classic cut, comes in the three colors: pink (as shown), green and burgundy. 

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The collection includes a new design, a 2-piece culottes, which I am sorry to say, doesn’t look very presentable to me. It reminds me of sleepwear. 

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So, I’m not exactly impressed with L&P’s latest collection either. 

Shanghai Tang has just launched six limited edition cheongsam designs, though a couple of them are still not available in store yet. According to the website, there are less than 10 pieces per dress and can only be purchased online or from a few stores worldwide. The cheongsams are in the classic cut, made from luxurious material. 

Take a look at this qipao below left, it’s made from calf leather with laser cut pattern to resemble lace. It is retailed at more than S$5,000.

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Here we have an elegant velvet cheongsam, which will be available soon.

Next, a jacquard cheongsam with crystal. 

Another calf leather cheongsam, but with embroidery.

And finally, a fully beaded cheongsam that retails at a whopping S$11,000! 

For those who is not looking for the red carpet look, you can consider the below designs which are more versatile. 

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To be honest, though the limited edition cheongsams do look exquisite, but in terms of style, I prefer those from 2015. I think Shanghai Tang is merely relying on expensive materials to boost this year’s  limited edition line instead of showcasing amazing designs like what they did last year. 

Anyway for the next post on cheongsam, I will be featuring designs from a shop I have recently discovered. 

Cheongsam sale from Joli Pretty

Joli Pretty is having a “Hello Summer” sale with up to 60% discount off attires and accessories starting today, for 10 days.  Dresses and a top from previous collections, including the last one, are up for grab. Even cheongsams for little girls. As for accessories, they are brooches in four different Chinese designs. 

Here are some of the merchandise that are worth considering.

Cloud Sky

Luxera

Kyoto Blossom

 

Secret Garden

Elephant March

Pink peacock broochRed bird brooch

 

What’s new on the cheongsam launches

Joli Pretty has been rather prolific with its launches. It has a new collection out two days ago and it is number 21!

There are nine designs this time, comprising of 8 dresses and a top, with the prices of the former going from S$139 to S$159 and the top selling for S$89.

As usual, the collection gears towards formal/office wear, nothing outrageous or sultry. Here are some pictures of the designs with the top being the first.

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Lark and Peony is launching two new colors for the Southerner cheongsam design tonight at 10.00PM local time: one in off-white and the other in magenta. This is a blend of the cheongsam and the Vietnamese ao dai. It is basically a long lace top with batik skirt. L&P offers two ways to wear the combination: either with the top over the skirt or tuck in. The attire goes for S$318.

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Cloth.ier has just started launching long cheongsams as part of its offerings. They are all in the classic style with floral prints and an occasional lace fabric. 

The dresses featured below are in the basic design with back zip, made from 100% silk satin.


There are also more elaborate designs available, such as this magenta silk cheongsam with enbroidered print. And below it, is a bareback lace cheongsam 


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Cloth.ier is alsolaunching a “zipless” cheongsam with embroidered buttons, which is custom made to order to ensure a perfect fit.

Other than cheongsams, there is a wide range of  Chinese jackets available, in both hip length as well as thigh length. Take the one below in wool, according to Ping, it is good for autumn wear. 

For a thinner thigh length jacket, there are a couple of options below. All these coats have a fitted look, which lends a touch of elegance to the wearer.


For those who prefer shorter jackets, the design is more of a loose fit with either coin buttons or fabric knotted buttons.

So there you have it, the usual safe designs, which also means nothing outstanding. 

The new cheongsam launches (updated)

(I made a mistake with the launch date of Our Bitsy Prints’ 29th collection. It should be tonight, 6th April. Apologies!)

After a hiatus on cheongsam posts, I finally published one featuring new launches.

First on the list is Joli Pretty, whose latest designs are made available since last Thursday (31 March). This series of dresses are feminine in style, and I especially like those in laces.  

A couple of the cheongsams can be customized, like this red lace dress below. There is an extra cost of S$10 and above, depending on complexity.

Notice that all cheongsams show off the female silhouette, and even for the blue shift lace dress below, the peekaboo fabric plus the shorter length adds a touch of sultry to the design. However, I don’t think much of some of the prints, like those on the pastel floral dress and the butterfly dress. They make the cheongsams look a little gaudy.
 

  

Another online store, Our Bitsy Prints, is launching its latest 29th collection tomorrow (7 April). It has an interesting theme, “In the Noir Garden”, which has a mysterious feel to it. In fact, an image of a femme fatale comes into mind. Unfortunately, the designs and prints turn out rather average and boring, not befitting the theme at all.


Lastly, here are some cheongsam designs from Shanghai Tang.

Top picture features a classic dress with red floral print, followed by those from the SS/2016 collection. The contemporary style of the latter gives the cheongsam an edgy look. Even for the classic qipao, notice how with the pairing of black tights and high ankle boots give the dress a whole new feel? This is how to make the cheongsam relevant to the modern lady, and yet doesn’t take away the elegance of the dress. It is not by pairing it with sandals, flip flops or sneakers like what some designers or retailers do.            

 

 

 

Cheongsams abound!

It’s cheongsam time! A few online boutiques have already started launching their collections for the year end celebrations and even Chinese New Year a few weeks ago. After all, one set of designs will not be enough, there will be a series of launches leading to CNY. I guess for those eager to get their hands on the dresses now, you can consider getting one for the New Year party and another for CNY later. But do I think the designs are dress-worthy? Unfortunately not. For me, I am looking for the “wow” factor. A dress that will make people take a second admiring look. But most of the designs don’t fit the bill. In fact they look like more of the same (previous collections). Only Sissae dresses have some rather interesting looks Anyway, let’s check them out. After all, the readers may be more forgiving.

Joli Pretty launched its first mother-daughter cheongsam sets three days ago, and there are altogether six of them. Here are a couple of the dresses:

          Daughter dress

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In its previous collection, JP had launched a number of cheongsams for CNY, many of which are in the festive bright colors. But the designs are basically the same as before or similar to those launched earlier by The Happy Cheongsam or Our Bitsy Prints.

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This dress has a tulip design.

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Lark and Peony is another boutique which has been rather prolific with its launches. Most are of the classic cut, though there are a couple of new designs like the beautiful combination of a lace top with batik skirt (bottom-most picture) and a set of matching top and shorts.

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The Happy Cheongsam has  a small launch recently, featuring dresses for the year end celebration, called “Pop Fizz Clink”. The first and second dresses below are new designs and come in other colors as well. I find the below dress with maroon top and floral bottom does look rather elegant.

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Finally, there is Sissae which has some really modem designs. Like the dress featured in the bottom first picture, with an interesting collar.

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The below titillatingsee-through lace cheongsam is strictly for evening wear. You may wonder why I state the obvious. This is because there are some women who have no qualm about wearing even club wear to the office. Maybe I’m getting old and conservative, but I thought it is a little too revealing for my liking.

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And now we have a cheongsam jumpsuit! A first if I may say since I don’t recall seeing anything like this. It’s definitely different, but not something I would wear. I mean it’ll be a pain to go to the toilet. Besides, one has to be tall and thin to pull this off. Otherwise it’ll end up looking like pyjamas.

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For those looking for a wedding cheongsam, here is one for consideration.

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Finally, we have Hana, the maker of ornate and elaborate cheongsams. Not my cup of tea.


I have seen a proliferations of mother and children cheongsam sets, and I will feature more of them in my upcoming posts. Separately, I’ve been wondering what happened to Our Bitsy Prints as the launch has gone quiet since October. It turns out that OBP will be coming up with a new collection in a couple of days’ time, which I will feature later.