Qipao, cheongsam, whatever you choose to call it, the elegant traditionally inspired Chinese dress is not only something we only wear for Chinese New Year. Now, with the rise of the #hanfu fashion trend, owning and wearing a designer qipao is something many of us want to do daily.
While our mothers and aunts might have only worn qipao for Chinese New Year, our grandmothers wore them more often daily; if not the full dress, then certainly a comfy set of samfu. Being interested in our traditional dress forms is a worldwide trend with European women wearing Victorian-era clothing, and the obvious popularity of hanfu in China. So invest in a designer qipao - whether classical or more modern in style - and proudly celebrate your culture.
Chinese New Year 2021:
Launched in Singapore by Priscilla Shunmugam, this established fashion label is renowned for its traditionally inspired designs. Not only does the brand work with the classic shapes of qipao, but the designer also features traditional textiles from around Asia, adding uniqueness and authenticity to her custom-made garments.
You can shop for more casual pieces from the brand’s Om range, or contact the atelier directly to have a bespoke qipao made for you.
Atelier Ong Shunmugam is located at 43 Jalan Merah Saga 01-76 Singapore 278115, Tel: +65 6252 2612. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 12pm to 7pm. Closed on Sundays, Mondays and Public Holidays. Book an appointment at email@example.com for bespoke garments.
Malaysian label Khoon Hooi was launched in 1999 and is known for its exquisite hand-worked embroidery, beading and featherwork on the most luxurious fabrics. Mixing traditional qipao’s classic shapes with a modern sensibility for volume and form, a Khoon Hooi qipao is practically a piece of art.
Shop Khoon Hooi’s 2021 qipao collection online at khoonhooi.com/qi-pao-2021.
Also based in Malaysia, Melinda Looi is loved for her uniquely modern take on the qipao. Looi trained at La Salle School of Fashion in Montreal, Canada, and won the Malaysia Young Designer Award in 1995. Hence, she knows what she’s doing when it comes to combining tradition with modern design.
For her 2021 Cruise collection entitled Péngyǒu (friend), Looi has a range of traditionally inspired dresses and separates, including a fabulously fun bright red t-shirt emblazoned with the word Péngyǒu. “Friendship is like humanity,” explains Looi, “and in times like these, it’s important that we celebrate people; bring joy in any way we can.”
Shop the collection online at www.melindalooi.com/cruise-2021-ready-to-wear-collection
When it comes to the modern qipao, there is no brand like Shanghai Tang. This venerable brand was the first to celebrate the glory of traditional Chinese clothing and sewing techniques. Over the years, it became the go-to destination for anyone wanting to celebrate their culture while still looking sharp in the modern world. Without a doubt, if you want a beautiful piece of luxurious bespoke tailoring using the highest quality materials, this is the place to go.
Shanghai Tang also offers some fabulous ready-to-wear collections like the Time to Bloom range that is currently available. This collection is a great place to start if you are buying your first designer qipao a mix of textures and styles from more casual pieces to elegant evening wear. The brand also offers menswear with a traditional twist.
Shanghai Tang is located at Raffles City, 252 North Bridge Road #01-27A/28; Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Rd, #03-06/07, Singapore 238872; and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, L1-35/36, Bay Level, 2 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956. You can also shop the brand online at www.shanghaitang.com/wfw20
Qipao designer to the stars, Gao Lai Chan, is legendary in Singapore and the region for his sumptuous, elegant creations. His eponymous brand Laichan is known not only for creating beautiful bespoke wedding gowns and evening dresses but also for gloriously sensual qipaos. While a bespoke piece is certainly a solid investment, you can also pick up something from the Laichan classic, elegant ready-to-wear prêt-à-porter collection.
Laichan is located at Paragon Shopping Centre, 290 Orchard Rd, #03-20, Singapore 238859
OTHER AFFORDABLE BRANDS YOU CAN SHOP FROM
The Missing Piece
If you are shopping for the whole family - and why not? - check out Singapore brand The Missing Piece. A relatively new arrival in the world of qipaos, this brand focuses on more casual qipao designs that are comfortable and designed for Singapore’s sticky weather. The Missing Piece also creates coordinated options for the whole family - especially cute for Chinese New Year or other family gatherings.
The Missing Piece is located at 10 Winstedt Road, #03-06, Singapore 227977. Open 10am-7pm on weekdays excluding Wednesdays and 10am - 1pm on Saturdays. Closed on Wednesdays, Sundays and public holidays. You can contact them about creating bespoke pieces, or shop online at iwantthemissingpiece.com.
For something that gives off a more Peranakan vibe, check out Singapore brand Yeomama Batik. Established in 2018 when ‘Mama Yeo’ discovered a huge batch of lovely batik fabric during a trip to Yogyakarta, the brand’s concept is based on using traditional handmade batik fabric for handmade fun, casual designer qipaos.
Designed in-house by Desleen Yeo and her mother, the eponymous YeoMama, the pieces are created to suit several body types and ages, focusing on styles for curvier women. Alongside the qipaos, the brand also produces clothes for men and children, and even batik activewear!
Shop YeoMama online at yeomamabatik.com. The YeoMama studio is located at 65 Ubi Road 1 #01-87 Oxley Bizhub, 408729, Singapore, and is open for appointments from Wednesday to Saturday, 2-7pm. Book via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indonesian designer brand Sissae is known for its stunning handmade designer qipaos with a feminine, softly sexy edge featuring beautiful embroidery. The embroidery is the centrepiece of these elegant qipaos that are available in a range of designs, fabrics and beautiful prints and colours, cut along more traditional shapes.
You can shop Sissae online at www.sissae.com/home; the brand ships to Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Hong Kong, United States, Australia, and Indonesia.
Hong Kong designer Grace Choi Yi-Ming was born in Shanghai and moved to her home city as a child. Starting first as a model - she walked for Vivienne Westwood, Vera Wang, Fendi, Hermes, Oscar De La Renta and many more - before moving into fashion show production and events.
With years of experience in the fashion world, Choi launched Yi-Ming in 2011, focusing on what she saw as a gap in the market - distinctive oriental fashion with a chic, modern interpretation. Choi has worked on several collaborations - including one with Disney that’s currently available and has the cutest little girl Mickey-inspired qipaos - and her styles range from casual day dresses to evening wear featuring lots of lace.
Shop Yi-Ming online at www.yi-ming.asia/qipao-cheongsam. The brand is also available at several boutiques in Hong Kong, including the flagship store located at 50A Tung Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong (Entrance on Tai Ping Shan Street), open 11am - 7pm.
Online-only brand My Cheongsam describes itself as the “first Urban Style Cheongsam designer brand”, and creates traditionally inspired qipaos with a modern edge. The concept combines modern prints and colours with more traditional shapes and details, focusing on the classic qipao silhouette.
The brand offers a custom service for its classic range and designs in both traditional and more urban styles. The website is user-friendly as you can search by style or colour to find the exact qipao you want.
Shop My Cheongsam online at www.mycheongsam.com.
Chinese New Year 2021: