Situated in Montreal & Toronto.

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In February of 2001 in the newspaper 'La Presse'

In the Section B3

Eve Dumas, recognized Miss Bonnie Ngai.

Click to enlarge.


English Translation:
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, 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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