Have you watched “In the Mood for Love“, directed by Wong Kar Wai and starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung?
I love the film for various reasons including: the unconventional, bittersweet love story; the stellar acting; the gorgeous cinematography rendered in lush, sensual tones by Christopher Doyle; the soundtrack especially the haunting refrain in Shigeru Umebayashi’s “Yumeji’s theme”; the beautiful cheongsams (also known as ‘qipao’) worn by Maggie Cheung.
On the latter note, you can see most of them here – my favourite is the one in white with black floral print, which I loved even more when I saw her running up the stairs in a red trench coat (which I would also like to have)!
In 2011, I returned to Singapore to get some paperwork done and pack some belongings as I was going to move from Paris to Brussels. In between, AB and I went to Hong Kong for a few days and I was more than happy to show him around one of my favourite cities.
With my impending move to Europe for work, I felt a slight urge to reinforce my Asian-ness and I thought of getting a cheongsam. I had worn this traditional Chinese dress on past occasions but it had been for photo assignments and I didn’t own any.
So while we were in Hong Kong, I went with AB to Linva Tailors 年華時装公司@ 38 Cochrane Street, Central 中環閣麟街38號 to take a look at their cheongsams.
We were going back to Singapore the following day and there wasn’t time to order a custom-made cheongsam. So I looked through the rack where there were several ready-made pieces and tried on a few but nothing was to my taste.
The lady boss, who is the wife of the tailor, Leung Ching Wah, held up a black lace cheongsam with white floral swirls and suggested that I try it. I raised my eyebrows as I thought it looked rather old-fashioned and I didn’t like lacy dresses. AB thought otherwise and enthused over the dress, urging me to try it.
So I did. It fitted like a glove. No alterations needed.
Here’s a picture of it in our hotel room with an amazing view of the Victoria harbour in the background.
In case you were wondering, we decided to splurge a little and stayed in a Harbour View Room at The Salisbury, a YMCA hotel. This cost a fraction of the price that you would pay at The Peninsula Hong Kong next door – you get the same impressive view, though without the luxury touches that come with The Peninsula Hotels.
I love this cheongsam. Here’s a photo of me in it at the grand (re)opening of Prince de Galles – taken in the macassar wood elevator. (Why didn’t I use my Fuji x100 instead of the lousy Blackberry camera? Beats me.)
If you’re interested to learn more about the origins and evolution of the qipao 旗袍 / cheongsam 長衫, check out this blog.