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Published: Saturday February 2, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday April 20, 2013 MYT 3:42:36 PM

Charms of the cheongsam

OVER the past few decades, the cheongsam has evolved, taking centre stage in the world of fashion. The woman who dons this beautifully cut garment is said to have a striking figure.

The beauty of the cheongsam is that it is made of different materials with varying lengths, depending on the season and taste.

Once the attire of the Chinese elite, many still see this elegant piece as a marker of the Chinese identity.

Local designer Kenneth Hoong is somewhat traditional when it comes to designing cheongsam.

The owner of Butterfly boutique in Sungei Wang Plaza admits that he prefers to stick to tradition, but adds some modern twists to it, making every piece elegant and suitable for all occasions.

For this Chinese New Year, Hoong has come up with nine distinctive collections for the festive season.

As Thai silk is his preference, Hoong cleverly decides to go fusion by adding some batik motifs for this popular attire usually worn during the festive season or on special occasions.

“I have incorporated some batik in the designs this time to give them a fusion look.

“We are very fortunate to be living in a multiracial society and we have the best of everything in terms of lifestyle and culture.

“Having said this, I’ve taken a liking to the kebarung and adding some elements of this Malay costume to the cheongsam is simply remarkable,” said the 45-year-old, who studied design at The House of Rinpo, a popular fashion school in the 1970s, adding that he had selected his batik materials from Indonesia.

“There is an impression of simplicity, charm and elegance when one wears a cheongsam.

“Having a good cut for the piece is just as important as designing the embroidery for it and having the right combination of lace to go with it,” he said, adding that the cheongsam was not a complicated piece to design, as not much material was needed for it.

Butterfly transcends strong influences of the 1950s in the form of lace and chiffon trims. Although some may feel that Hoong is quite conservative in his designs, he has a point in telling the market that the traditional costume is here to stay.

He said the special thing about the cheongsam was that there was no need for accessories like belts, sashes, scarves or frills to go with it.

“Some of the cheongsam have built-in corsets and lining, designed according to customers’ preferences. It is also padded with a bra, making it easier and comfortable,” he said.

Hoong’s collection includes a high-neck mandarin collar cheongsam with phoenix and peony motifs in the embroidery, a high-neck modern cheongsam with batik motifs in the middle, a V-neck modern cheongsam with handkerchief sleeves with a twist of the kebarung at the waistline and his signature metallic blue cheongsam with peonies, mandarin duck and woodpecker as motifs in the embroidery, among other things.

“The uniqueness of the metallic blue cheongsam is that I’ve incorporated some elements of the Ming Dynasty by adding tassels and jade at the back of the garment.

“In the olden days, the tassel and jade on a cheongsam signified that the person who wore it came from a rich family,” Hoong added.

The cost of the cheongsam, he said, usually depended on the embroidery work.

“The more embroidery means the more expensive,” he said with a smile.

Hoong has developed a loyal following as most of his clients are regulars. He currently owns two boutiques at Sungei Wang Plaza and has three tailors assisting him.

Hoong’s new collection ranges from RM700 to RM3,500. For those who prefer their cheongsam custom-made, Hoong is ever-ready to be of service, although some alluring yet exquisite pieces are available for any occasion.

Butterfly is located at Lot G 024, Ground Floor and Lot F 007, First Floor of Sungei Wang Plaza, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

Tags / Keywords: Community, News, Lifestyle, Cheongsam for CNY

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