Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cheongsam Boy :) 旗袍男

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.

'Everlasting Regret':

'In the Mood for Love':

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