A quick update on Lai Chan cheongsams

It has been quite some time since I last checked out Laichan cheongsams for CNY. I returned last week for a dress alteration and also to look for new designs. Met up with Eddy who told me that they were only just starting to line up a new range for production. There were only a few new prints and designs in store, but I thought I should feature them here. So, let’s start with the signature cheongsams.

Here are a few dresses which caught my eyes. I’m especially taken in by the second orchid print dress and the lavender sequinned snake-skin print. Now, usually sequins can be rather uncomfortable to the skin, like they can be prickly on the neck and armpit. Eddy told me that they would snip off the sequins at these areas to make the dress comfortable for the wearer, and I thought that is so considerate.

Next, we have a couple of red evening dresses for the wedding dinner. The top cheongsam features embroidered lace appliqué from the armpit down, with a flare-out bottom.

The second red dress is this elaborate outfit with beautiful embroidered floral appliqué surrounded by tassel. A long row of red buttons lined the back. A stunning dress for a bride that will grab attention!

For the men, there is a stately-looking long mandarin-collared jacket that comes with button.

I spotted an interesting cheongsam top while I was at the boutique. It is a combination of both modern and traditional, with a contrasting Sakura print in front and polka dot pint at the back. The different sleeve lengths add on to the contemporary look.

Quick peek at Laichan cheongsams

The other day, I was at Paragon for lunch and decided to grab a quick peek into the latest designs at Laichan boutique. Eddie was not around and I met Lai Chan attending to a customer. Spoke briefly to him about the official opening of the shop, and he said he was fine with not having any since the shop is considered open for business. But it looks like he has to have an official one as many regulars are asking about it. Right now he is busy with the fashion show at Singapore Fashion Week in 26 October. In fact Laichan is opening the show!

Anyway I didn’t stay long in the boutique as there were more customers coming in, and Laichan had to handle them on his own. I managed to take pictures of some new designs, and found that there were more Japanese cotton fabrics this time. So, here we have some standout cheongsams for formal occasions including wedding.



Below is a cheongsam with Japanese print. A youthful looking dress that is cheery as well!

I like the geometric print of this cheongsam below.  It has a retro feel and yet is beautifully contemporary.


If you remember that Laichan has designed a cheongsam with pockets since end last year, and this time he added overlapping front pleats and using gingham print.

A beautiful and elegant white cheongsam for the big day!

There are not many cheongsam tops available though. Here is one with zipper instead of the signature stone buttons.

While I was there, Laichan pointed out a kimono-style jacket to me. This regal outerwear is a showstopper!

A black flamboyant long jacket for those who want to make a statement.

I am very honored that Laichan invited me to his show at Singapore Fashion Week, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it. I like to wish him all success, and look forward to checking out new designs in the near future.

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’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.



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)



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’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



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



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



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.

The new cheongsams from Lai Chan (updated)

(Note: added the A-line cheongsam that I missed out earlier.)

I was at Raffles City mall a couple of days ago and decided to pay a visit to Laichan boutique. I was happy to spot some new designs, like this light grey modern cheongsam with a knot at the center waist. A classy dress that looks absolutely presentable for work and important meetings. A great modern interpretation of the traditional.

Of course Lai Chan’s classic cheongsams are the staple, and we have a number of new prints available. You can expect a burst of floral blooms in this collection. For those who like to have a little flair to their dresses, here’s one with a splash of flowers.

I love the bright poppy flower print of this dress below, which pairs beautifully with the contrasting blue stone buttons. I’m a sucker for vibrant colors!

If you prefer something a little more feminine and subtle, here is an option. The print reminds me of an English garden. 

Another dress that caught my eyes! Yes, I was taken in by the combination of the azure blue flowers and the aquamarine leaves. That blue color is gorgeous! 

For something a little different, this is a retro floral print which is pretty in its own right.

If you are looking for a more earthy tone, you can opt for this elegant purple cheongsam that looks amazing in any formal setting.

Laichan also launched a loose fit cheongsam for women who wants a more casual look. I really like the modern floral print of this sporty dress.

Late last year, Lai Chan added the A-line cheongsam to his collection, and it has been a hit since because of the presence of pockets. We women love the convenience of pockets don’t we? (At leash for Singaporean women.) This time, Laichan used the retro geometric print for the dress, which gives it a rather youthful look. 

There is a wide selection of cheongsam tops available as well, though I am only showcasing a few here. Down here, we have one  with small floral print, and the other in block color complemented with floral appliqués.

I spotted this interesting modern top with a pretty floral print on the front and a purple back panel. Instead of the usual side buttons, there is a hidden zip at the back. However, I’m not sure if there’s a problem with the purple fabric or that this is a difficult material to handle because there is puckering along the zipper. And I only realized, upon looking closely at the picture, that even the bottom seam looks jagged.  If this is what happened when a zip is used instead of buttons, then I rather go for the latter. Perhaps I am being picky, but  I find puckering unsightly.

All in all, I would still say the collection is rather eye-catching, and many of the classic cheongsams are drool-worthy. 

A cheongsam update 

Over the past few days, I went to Peter Kor’s boutique to check out the sale and to the pop-up store of Laichan.

As mentioned in my previous post, Peter is holding a sale for the previous collections including the CNY cheongsams from 30-70%. Most of the cheongsams are going for 30% off, and there are a number of new designs that I didn’t spot during my visits before CNY. Take a look at them here! The sale will end this Sunday (19 February). So if you are interested in any of them, do make a trip down to the boutique at 222 Queen Street. 

There are quite a few cheongsams with retro prints, such as these below with the ruffled hemline. 


Also available are dresses  embellished with lace or intricately-embroidered floral buttons.

Lai Chan’s pop up store opens 2 days ago at Raffles City Mall, on the second level. The exterior wasn’t fully done up when I was there, like the shop name wasn’t put up then. Eddie told me that everything would be completed by next week.

The interior design has a clean line feel about it which makes it looks cool and edgy, though it wasn’t intentional. I was told the shop was previously occupied by Nike, and not much was done to the design since it is temporary. To add to the cool factor, a snake-skin print cheongsam with sequins was on the mannequin. 

I will return when the shop is all done up, ready for pictures.  Hopefully there will be some new designs I can showcase as well.

Cheongsam news snippets 

Some of you might be aware that Laichan‘s boutique at Raffles Hotel has closed because the hotel is undergoing a major refurbishment. But fret not, he has a temporary store at Raffles City mall, #02-29, starting from 16 February till 15 July. He will relocate to a permanent shop at Paragon from 1 August. 

Peter Kor is having a post CNY sale at his boutique at 222 Queen Street, #02-03. If you have been eyeing his collection, you should go check it out since it’s going at 30-70% off. 

If you are still hankering for cheongsams or considering if you should get one, here are more suggestions for you.

Utopia at Parkway Parade

Blum at various locations

The Proposal at Capitol Piazza


Tong Tong Friendship Store at Shaw tower

Mandarin Peony at Tang 

Clothier at Tang

Looking good in the Lai Chan cheongsams

There are only 5 days to CNY; not much time left to grab a cheongsam for the celebration. If you’re been following my posts, you will see there are a lot of choices available still. Though if you require alteration service, then tough luck! But it’s ok to get a dress that you can wear after the festivity. 

Some of you may not like the choices offered in the earlier posts, especially if you are looking for something fabulous, that stands out. So, I had made a trip to Lai Chan yesterday to check out what is available (but I cannot guarantee any of them will still be after this post is published.) 

One of things I like about getting a cheongsam at Lai Chan is the after-sale service. The boutique is one of only two I know of which strives to ensure the dress fits the customer nicely. I might have mentioned it before but the boutique once told a customer, who dislikes alternation, that if the dress didn’t fit after it was done, she would get a full refund. That is how much emphasis the boutique places on making the customer looks good. It didn’t matter how many alterations are required, most important is that the dress has to fit. If alteration is not possible, the customer will be asked to have the dress custom made.

There are dresses for those who prefer something bright and cheery, and those who want light colors.

A pleated cheongsam with pockets! A rare desire from Lai Chan. 

How about a loose fit cheongsam for those who want to feel comfortable in it? The collar is also lower than those in the usual dresses. Another good thing about this is that there is a zip instead of multiple buttons which can put off some women.

Enough of dresses? There are cheongsam tops available. Lavender and fuchsia pink stand out!

The dresses go for more than S$750 and the tops are more S$400. But each piece is unique, and workmanship is excellent. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, the important alteration service.

A cheongsam feast at Laichan

I had to check out Laichan’s cheongsams for the CNY selections. After all, they are known for excellent workmanship, interesting designs and amazing quality. As always, there is a varied collection of designs with amazing fabrics.

Let me showcase the long gowns which there are quite a few this time, and they are seriously Oscar-worthy. Check out this gorgeous lace dress with a short train. Eddie told me that French lace is painstakingly sewn on the underlying pink fabric, and Agate buttons are used on the dress. In fact, in all the clothes showcased here with buttons, semi-precious stones are used.

Another stand-out lace dress with a revealing back and aquamarine buttons. The lace fabric is simply exquisite, this is one stunning cheongsam! 

Eddie told me the lace dresses are also available in shorter length but they have all been sold out. Why am I not surprised?

If you want something a little more discreet, here is a really elegant looking gown with just a splash of floral lace  on the left shoulder. Amethyst buttons are used. 

Now we come to the short dresses. This lace cheongsam may have less flourishing details but it is just as stunning as the ones shown above. 
Below, we have a modern fuchsia cheongsam with zip instead of button.

According to Eddie, Laichan is always thinking of ways to make his cheongsams different. This time he experimented with a different position for the darts on the bodice: horizontal. To be honest, I am not sure I like this look but it is indeed contrary to the usual cheongsam you see elsewhere.


Another interesting modern piece, and one which I give a thumbs up to is this purple cheongsam. Note the folded collars and the different dart positions. Eddie also told me that, contrary to appearance, the fabric is not tweed, and instead it is a cotton blend for comfortable wear in our tropical climate. I must confess I am always amazed by the fabrics sourced by Laichan for his designs. 

The following cheongsams are in stretchy Japanese cotton, and are part of the new collection. I especially like the one in white with print of beaded chains.  
 Now we come to the cheongsam tops in a range of gorgeous fabrics. 

The below blouse is made of a soft brocade on the front and collar and of denim material for the back. The brocade has a beautiful shimmer to it, and looks luxurious. 

A different sort of cheongsam top with a retro feel to it. I understand from Eddie that the 1970’s style is back in fashion, as seen on Gucci’s runway show.


Here we  have a jacket in gold lamare. Perhaps a little too opulent looking? 

Finally, we have a sheer chiffon cheongsam top for a casual look.


For those clothes with buttons, there are altogether 18 of them, and this is an auspicious number for the Chinese (symbolizing prosperity). You might feel that it is a pain to do up 18 buttons, but think of it as putting on a good luck charm.

So there you have it, another fabulous cheongsam collection from Laichan!

Those interesting cheongsams from Lai Chan

Laichan never fails to surprise with  his new designs.

Two weekends ago, I received images of new denim cheongsams from Eddie, and I thought they look really cool. The replacement of buttons with zip adds a touch of edginess to the cheongsam, and yet it doesn’t lose its character.

There are two designs: one where the zip goes all the way to the hem, and the other ends at the lower thigh. As the fabric is thicker than usual, the denim dresses are not lined, and a little stiff.


When I checked out the dresses at the boutique two Mondays ago, Eddie told me there was a red denim piece as well, but he couldn’t find it. According to him, it was a pinkish red color with silvery sheen. A day later, he found it and sent me the pictures, and I like it more than the blue denim piece.


Eddie also sent me pictures of an absolutely gorgeous white cheongsam with floral applique, that will make a stunning wedding dress.


While at the boutique, I was shown non-cheongsam designs, including these flamboyant oriental jackets, which screams “look at me”. (By the way, those are emu feathers that you see attached to the sleeves.) I have to admit though these jackets are not what I would wear, but I think the celebrities might go for them to stand out at the red carpet.


During my visit, half the time was spent on the men’s jackets, which Lai Chan has started producing in numbers. The one below is a blueish-grey cape jacket with a removable collar insert. It is made using summer wool which Lai Chan explained the it helps to whisk off heat. Note that the agate buttons are along the side unlike the usual center row, reminiscence of the Chinese long gown of the past.





A regular black jacket. Note the center seam running  down from the collar? This is seen in almost all the jackets. Lai Chan and Eddie explained to me that this feature is keeping with the traditional cut, where in the past, the old Chinese looms could only produce fabrics with narrow width, and hence the tailors had to sew two pieces to make a panel for the bodice.  Of course, the modern loom can produce the width the tailor wants, but Lai Chan wants to preserve a little bit of the tradition though it makes the tailoring process more laborious. I noticed that the seam only appears on the front panel and not the back.


An interesting jacket with differing lengths for the front and back. I noted that this is the only jacket without the center seam.


A long jacket gown befitting of a kungfu master. I’m sure Yip Man, who popularized the Wing-Chun martial art style, would have endorsed this.


Note that the attention to details is everywhere. On the right picture, you can see there’s a pocket sewn inside the jacket, and on the left, a seam midway along the sleeve. Again, the seam is another traditional feature incorporated into the jacket.


For those who are hoping to see more dresses instead, I hope to feature more of that in the future. Meantime here is a uniquely Lai Chan design.

Laichan cheongsams: something new, something regular

I went to check out Laichan boutique last week, hoping to see new cheongsam designs in denim. But, unfortunately, there has been a delay.  Eddie told me that maybe there would be a few new ones coming in this week but most  would only hit the store later. Still there are some new interesting designs as well as the usual ones in pretty prints.

Let’s take a look at the regular ones first. Here is the usual floral print with the signature jade buttons.
Another regular cheongsam in a pretty cotton kimono fabric which I really like. It also comes in another similar print with lighter colors. (The latter goes better for ladies with the tan look after seeing a regular customer with a sun-kissed appearance trying it on.)

The underside seams are always beautifully sewn.
When I first saw the below dress, where the fabric is a cotton linen mix, it didn’t appeal much to me. But the more I look at it, I start to appreciate it’s simplicity and contemporary look. I like the interesting juxtaposition of the color panels.
An elegant and classic cheongsam in crepe fabric with floral appliqué pasted on it, and it comes with a white camisole.

A close-up of the fabric.

The underside seam.

Now, let’s talk about the new designs. The cheongsam below has an interesting woven mesh covering the top bodice. Very modern but I must say a little avant garde for me.

Look at how well made the mesh is and the amazing sewing skill that attached the mesh to the dress.


I guess you can say that this maroon cheongsam is inspired by the flamenco dress. Though it is not something I would get, but I am very impressed by the excellent workmanship and quality.



For those chubby ladies who don’t have proportionate figures, you can consider this loose fit cheongsam with a zip along the front panel.




Here is a cheongsam top with ethic print that reminds me of the Ikat fabric.
Laichan is now experimenting with an unisex mandarin jacket design. It has stone buttons that runs along the side, much like the Chinese blouse of the past.

The embroidery of the jacket also reflects the same high quality workmanship. Check out the interesting details, like the button holder is made from a different fabric. Like some of his cheongsams, Laichan had piping sewn along the inner seam.