Where to Find the Best Cheongsams, Or Qipaos in Hong Kong
Though Cheongsam (which is more widely known as qipao in Mandarin) might be no longer popular as an everyday garment, one cannot deny that the dress has been an essential part of Chinese culture and traditional craftsmanship.
In the 1920s, the close-fitting dress rose to prominence in Shanghai, which was particularly beloved and made iconic by the upper-class ladies and socialites during that time. Often recognised with a mandarin collar, knotted buttons and side slit, qipao is more than just a wardrobe staple for special occasions such as Lunar New Year, Chinese weddings or tea ceremonies. The art of Chinese tailoring is the quintessence of elegance and femininity that never goes out of style.
Since the older generation of experienced Shanghainese tailors in Hong Kong is retiring as time goes by, finding a good qipao is no easy task. Here, we have found four highly-acclaimed stores in Hong Kong where you can buy or have a beautiful qipao tailored—with quality guaranteed, of course.
Founded by Tatler lister Victoria Tang-Owen’s father—Sir David Tang in 1994— Shanghai Tang is known as one of the city’s most prestigious home-grown fashion brands. With an approach of combining traditional Shanghainese tailoring with modern design and fabrics, you can expect every qipao at Shanghai Tang is contemporary yet sophisticated, without losing the essence of a traditional Chinese dress.
Their qipaos are made from stretch cotton and silk jacquards, with plenty of options for guests to choose from—think floral prints, embroidery details and bamboo patterns to match your character and every mood.
Though an appointment at Shanghai Tang is one of the hardest to book for a full tailoring experience in town, it’s definitely worth the wait. The brand also boasts a ready-to-wear collection, which means, you can still snap up a beautiful dress just in time before Chinese New Year.
Discover more at shanghaitang.com
Shanghai Bo Sing Qipao (上海寶聲時裝祺袍)
It’s impossible not to mention Master Yan Ka-man when it comes to the best qipao dressmakers in Hong Kong. With over 60 years of tailoring experience under his belt, who has worked with A-listers including Michelle Yeoh, Tang Wei and Anita Mui, you can trust that Master Yan knows a thing or two about crafting beautiful garments based on customers' preferences and needs.
Despite its size, his shop—Shanghai Bo Sing Qipao—is one of Hong Kong's lasting and few true bespoke tailors that has been able to stay in tune with the times, which upholds the highest standards of craftsmanship to offer quality garments for women with discerning taste.
Aside from crafting qipaos, Master Yan is also dedicated to keeping the tradition of qipao making alive, who hosts workshops for young tailors to learn the craft and work creatively to design qipaos with modern aesthetics.
Shanghai Bo Sing Qipao (上海寶聲時裝祺袍), 1/F, Shop 13, Bowring Commercial Centre, 150-164 Woosung Street, Jordan, Hong Kong
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For those obsessed with acclaimed local film director Wong Kar-wai’s works, it’s likely you’ll find the movie In the Mood For Love (2000) utterly beautiful. It’s not just because of its sentimental plot and unique cinematography, but also all the elegant bespoke cheongsams (or qipao) worn by actress Maggie Cheung in the movie.
However, only a few might know that all these classic, sophisticated Chinese dresses were made by Linva Tailor—an old-fashioned tailor shop operated by master Leung Ching-wah since 1965 in Hong Kong. Whether it’s lovely florals or subtle geometric patterns, Linva Tailor strives to offer authentic and traditional designs.
Book an appointment and meet the reputed designer to get your exquisite made-to-order qipao. You’re required to go for a fitting at least twice, where you'll select fabrics, patterns and have your measurements taken for a dress that flatters your body the most.
Linva Tailor, 38 Cochrane Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2544 2456
Mee Wah Qipao
Nestled amidst the hustle and bustle of Sheung Wan, Mee Wah Qipao is the oldest bespoke cheongsam shop in Hong Kong where boasts a hundred years of expertise in crafting authentic qipao dresses.
The label was founded by the Kan family in the 1920s, which has survived through the tide of time and run by two generations already. From the moment you step inside the shop, you'll be dazzled by a stunning collection of silk rolls and samples of dresses they made, including playful prints, classic florals and minimalistic solid-coloured designs with delicate buttons.
From taking measurements, to jotting down every single detail of body curves and cutting the fabric for the first draft, everything is made by hand from start to finish here. According to the owner, the whole process requires at least three to four days to achieve the qipao dress of your dreams.
Aside from all the beautiful garments Mee Wah Qipao created, the boutique itself is truly a gem to appreciate and remember for its significant cultural value in the city.
Mee Wah Qipao, 76 Queen’s Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2543 6889; meewahqipao.com
This article was originally published on January 16, 2020 and was updated on January 17, 2022.