In February of 2001 in the newspaper 'La Presse'
In the Section B3
Eve Dumas, recognized Miss Bonnie Ngai.
Although the cheongsam itself has today been democratized to the point where one
can obtain one for less than 100$ in any shop, the true Chinese dress, the one
that will fit you like a glove, must be cut to measure. For this, no need to
take the plane to Hong Kong, even if that corner of the world is recognized for
its cheongsams (considered as the most beautiful ones to the world). In all
Chinese neighborhood of respectable size, one can discover, by searching long
enough, a master tailor or a gifted dressmaker in the art of the cheongsam. For
it is an art that is unfortunately vanishing. Bonnie Ngai who creates dresses
(Chinese and other) in her shop ‘Chez Bonnie’ (now DressByBonnie.com), situated in Montreal says: There is no one to take
up the challenge. If you go to Hong Kong, you will see that those that still
make cheongsams are older people. The young have no interesting learning this
art. The lady has herself three children that direct themselves all towards...
the computer sciences. Nevertheless, there is a demand. Ms Ngai creates close to
fifty cheongsams per year. We require her services for wide variety of special
occasions: Weddings, graduation dances, anniversary or other important event.
The annual beauty pageant Miss Chinatown orders dresses from her. The dressmaker
learned the art of the cheongsam in Hong Kong, where she grew up and studied.
Despite her 22 years of trade, she considers her apprenticeship is not yet
finished. She puts about a week to draw, cut, assemble and decorate the dress,
according to the model. The expected time nevertheless can be a month,
especially in summer which is her biggest season. The cheongsams of Ms Ngai are
usually cut in silk or velvet. Her customers will almost always prefer the
classy long version to the version under the knee such as the one worn by Maggie
Cheung in the film 'In the Mood for Love'. My mother has worn cheongsams of this
style, with the hard, very high collar. For most of my customers, I do a two
inch collar at most, unless they have very long necks. In which case, I’ll allow
myself to go to two and a half inches. The slit does not go higher than the
mid-leg, apart from exceptions, and the sleeves can be longer, shorter,
straighter or altogether absent. Made to measure, Ms Ngai says: the cheongsam is
very comfortable, because when perfectly tailored to the proportions of the one
that wears it. It can even to have a reducing effect. But for the dress be
perfect, it is imperative that the customer goes to the dressmaker for proper
fitting. I have several customers from Ottawa and Toronto. They must come to the
shop if they want a cheongsam so I can study their outline properly. She objects
to the Internet sites that promise a perfect fitting dress just by giving their
measurements, and 300 $US. The exclusive creations of Ms Ngai can cost less than
300$, but according to the chosen material and the desired decorations (laces,
pearls, complicated braid), the price can climb to 1000$ or more.
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