HK cheongsam showcases in Japan

October 28, 2018

With more than a century of history, the traditional cheongsam continues to develop in Hong Kong and has gradually become a source of inspiration for new creations. The dress is a powerful cultural icon in contemporary Chinese society and one of the most internationally well-known intangible cultural heritage entities. The Sewing Techniques of Hong Kong-style Cheongsam is on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Hong Kong.


To showcase Hong Kong’s unique arts and culture, and to promote its creative industry, the Hong Kong Arts Centre will host a cheongsam exhibition in early November in Japan as part of the Hong Kong Week in Tokyo. Ten different styles of cheongsams by Hong Kong designers will be on display, giving visitors an opportunity to find out about the garment’s evolution, appreciate the skills in cheongsam-making and learn more about what the dress means to Hong Kong.


Traditionally fashion-forward

Janko Lam is one of the designers who will exhibit a cheongsam in Japan. Through workshops, she also hopes to teach visitors about traditional sewing techniques and showcase Chinese culture.


“When I learned to make a cheongsam, I also learned the Chinese traditions. Like the flower buttons of a cheongsam, they are made from the same piece of cloth as the cheongsam. This shows the Chinese people’s prudence.”


Ms Lam designed a denim cheongsam to illustrate how the garment continues to evolve in Hong Kong, while preserving the traditional craftsmanship.


“Some people have misconceptions about cheongsams, thinking they are old-fashioned or can only be worn on special occasions. I hope through my designs, I can show them a cheongsam can be hip and more wearable.”


For Ranee Kok, she will showcase her cheongsam at the expo, but as a form of wearable art. Her evening dress design retains the traditional features and silhouette of the cheongsam, while still being modern and fashion-forward.


“The inspiration is from architecture and nature. The fabric I used is traditional Chinese brocade with gold birds and blue flowers. Also for the ruffle part, it is (inspired by) nature, the flower petals, plus the pagodas from ancient China in the Tang Dynasty.”


Ms Kok also designed a set of accessories to complement her cheongsam, including a ring and bracelet fashioned after a Chinese-style button.


Another Hong Kong designer Amy Wong said every cheongsam is unique, and a woman’s independence and identity can be reflected through wearing one.


Ms Wong’s exhibit is a personal one. It is dedicated to her mentor, renowned Hong Kong writer Ye Si, who passed away in 2013. The design is inspired by Ye Si’s poems on lotus leaves.


“Inspired by Ye Si’s poem, I designed a cheongsam featuring lotus leaves. There is also a lotus flower blossom made of white silk on the dress to symbolise Ye Si’s work ‘blooming’ in Hong Kong.”


Fashion culture

The Chic of Hybridity: A Collection of Contemporary Cheongsam exhibition, organised by the Hong Kong Arts Centre, will run from November 3 to 11 in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Chief Executive Carrie Lam will tour the exhibits during her visit to Japan. Hong Kong Arts Centre Executive Director Connie Lam noted the centre is committed to promoting Hong Kong designs and the exhibition will help foster cultural exchanges between the city and Japan.


“All these cheongsams are made with different ideas and from different designers. I think this is really a very good showcase to show the diversity of design and creativity of Hong Kong designers.”


The Hong Kong Arts Centre will also organise workshops and designer sharing sessions at the expo to introduce the history and tradition of the cheongsam as well as its craftsmanship.



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