I recently saw parts of this PBS documentary which came out in 2003 (i think!)
It gives a wonderful insight into the Chinese-American experience and history in America.
Have a Watch! (In many parts):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLYQW6U97U0 (Part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8wVCf9O2mo (Part 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swiOofwHzt8 (Part 3)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwfdKdAWRVg (Part 4)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mxaras-fc-c (Part 5 with further links on the side)
As anyone whom knows me well knows, I've been obsessed with the Chinese cheongsam (Chinese traditional dress with a Mandarin collar, side buttons and slits on the side for walking) since forever...and I thought I was the only one until I came across this guy in Hong Kong, who's really hardcore!! He has like over 1000 old photos of Cheongsam clad women and hundreds of vintage cheongsams in his collection! He even collects old wooden hangers and retro mannequines on display!! I thought I was a cheongsam fan until I saw this doco of this 27 year old boy in Hong Kong whom has researched and collected so so much!!
He needs to dry out his vintage cheongsams and objects at least once a month to prevent mould developing and to preserve the items. He said that to keep old objects is difficult after decades and even more so for vintage cheongsams and clothing in general as the owners must really love these clothes to preserve them well and not throw them away after all these decades...most of the cheongsams would be from the 1950s and 1960s which were the heydays of the tight-fitting high collared cheongsams in Hong Kong and the rest of South East Asia with large Chinese communities such as Malaysia and Singapore. (The cheongsam fell out of fashion after 1949 in China with the Communist takeover and their more militant and egalitarian styles whereas the cheongsam is so feminine)
I really want to know this guy, he's like a 知 音 !! His name is 袁建偉(Helius) and I don't think I've met another young guy so interested in the Chinese Cheongsam as me!!! ( I thought it wasn't even possible! Hahaha).
Anyways, please find the episode in Cantonese below...well worth a watch!!
Entire RTHK Episode in Cantonese with Chinese subtitles:
ps: Nowadays, when we talk about the Cheongsam, most people automatically associate it with the 1920s-40s Shanghai ladies and Shanghai women's fashions of that era. However, this documentary and me personally, am more interested and focused on the 'Hong Kong Cheongsams' of the 1950s and 60s which are VERY different in style and shape to their 'Shanghai Cheongsams' counterparts. This is as whereas the Shanghai style cheongsams are usually quite loose fitting and never tight with a reasonably low-mid height collar and hemline to below the knee or even ankles, the Hong Kong 1950s/60s cheongsams are almost always extremely form-fitting and tight with a narrow waist and very high stiff collar as well as usually just at the knee or above it alittle. The fabrics used in the Hong Kong cheongsams of the 50s/60s are also more varied than the Shanghai cheongsams of the 30s/40s due to advancement in materials and choices by the 50s/60s. Thus, the association with tightness and a high collar of cheongsams nowadays amongst many ethnic Chinese women actually stems from the Hong Kong cheongsams of the 50s/60s and NOT the Shanghai cheongsams of the 30s/40s!
An accurate portrayal of the different cheongsam styles of 1940s Shanghai and 1960s Hong Kong can be gleaned from the movies 'Everlasting Regret' by Sammi Cheng and 'In the Mood For Love' by Maggie Cheung.
I went back to Taipei and Penang over the December year-end holidays and it was great seeing all my relative and friends back home:)
My family met up with me in Taipei for the first time in 10 years for a family holiday and we had a family gathering with all my relatives in Taipei for a reunion dinner with my 90 plus yr old grandfather. We had it at the historic Military Recreation HQ restaurant which I passed by on countless times when visiting my grandpa in previous Taipei trips as its just in the back road a few mins walk from my grandpa's place. It was a great dinner with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins (whom are all so big now- late teens and 20s, whilst previously everyone were just children!) as well as the baby of my uncle and also of my newly married cousin.
Had an opportunity to visit two nightmarkets too including Shilin Nightmarket and Ningxia Nightmarket which was great.:) I also got to meet up with an old friend from Keio University exchange days in Tokyo almost 8 1/2 years later since 2005 when I was in Japan for a language exchange! She's Taiwanese but stayed on in Tokyo since our Keio days and is still there with her now-husband and daughter. She was back in Taiwan for a few months only and as fate would have it, I was in Taipei at the time for 2-3 days. I also bought cloth for my chinese style tailoring from Taipei's famous Yong Le Market and visited Dihua Street.
On my trip back to Penang from Taipei on China Airlines, Taiwan's national carrier (despite the out-dated name!) I was upgraded to Business Class~:) I don't know why, I think the flight was fully booked. It was superb!!:)
During my trip back to Malaysia this time, I visited KL (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's national capital) for the first time in almost 6 years and got to meet two fellow bloggers whose blog's i've followed intermittently since at least 5 years back and they took me to a superbly delicious dinner place of Malaysian Chinese 'Zhu Char' place (basically rice with lots of yummy dishes!!) in Sentul! It was such a fantastic dinner with delicious food and even better company, getting to finally meet the two bloggers behind the blogs!
I also met up with old school friends whom moved to KL, one of whom I haven't met since leaving highschool in Penang, meaning 13 years back!! And she hadn't even changed one bit!!
I also met with my cousin and took a roadtrip to Shah Alam for the blue mosque there and had lunch at this very lovely cafe in Shah Alam serving western food which i did food blogging research on!
I also did so much more in KL such as visiting the touristy sights which i missed on my last occasion to KL like visiting the Central Market, Putrajaya, etc...met up with ex-university club friends whom are married with babies now and alot more of other people including another friend whom i knew in Sydney but have moved back to Malaysia 2 years ago and had a lovely time with him and my brother (yes, forgot to mention, my KL trip came about mainly due to my brother just moving to KL and so I was there to visit him!) hanging around KLCC shopping, chatting in the hotel room about his past year, and having lovely banana leaf rice in Bangsar!
As for my hometown of Penang, it was too short a trip as usual with the food which i still miss now!!! The kuay teow th'ng, my favourite nasi kandar place with the delicious curry sotong, nasi melayu place which is my favourite with its superb homemade sambal (who can beat Malaysian freshly made sambal!!!!), and Pulau Tikus Market Lor-Mee Mixed Noodle Soup , Thai food, Nyonya food where I had the pork stomache in black pepper soup with Assam prawns,etc....omg, I totally miss Penang food now!!!!!! (And I've just gotten back!)
Got to meet up with a few high school friends as well including a supper gathering, Christmas Day brunch and Christmas Day supper at a cool cafe, as well as an old friend whom I haven't met in ages and did a walking tour and lunch at the UNESCO heritage area of Georgetown, Penang with her workmates...such a nice experience including going into see the Khoo Kongsi Temple after decades!
I also went over to Sungai Petani with my mum on a roadtrip using the Penang ferry which I haven't gone aboard in years!! We had a Japanese friend of my mother's living there and he took us for a drive around the city area and had lunch at a Japanese place over there. Nice little town.:)
We had Christmas dinner at my aunt's place again with the Malaysian relatives and she made homemade Nyonya styled Pork Stomache Soup!!! So I had this soup twice on my Penang trip home!!
I will be going back to my hometown of Penang in December again this year so can't wait for it! More lovely food!!!!!:):):)
ps; Forgot to mention, I had Chinese Styled Clothes tailored in Penang using the cloth I mentioned bought in Taipei on this trip back and this tailor is pretty good at it with my directions and photo samples (basically I brought along photos of 1950s/60s cheongsam clad film stars and Maggie Cheung in 'In the Mood for Love' photos for reference on the cheongsam tops I wanted!) I think I've finally found a good tailor (after numerous not-so-successful attempts at finding cheongsam tailors in the past!) and she's got my measurements now and I made a few more which have been completed and sent by Pos Laju (express post) by my mum to Sydney for me..excited to see the results of these clothes!! Fingers crossed:)