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Chinese Trend—Qipao

Chinese designers have begun to try new ways of combining modern with traditional styles and so bring Chinese clothing to a new stage. Popular in the '30s and '40s, the Chinese women's dress called qipao today is recognized as typical formal dress for the Chinese women. But in designers' eyes, it also suits taller Western women. Here are some best deals, including both specialty shops and the budget markets in Beijing, for you to join this Chinese trend.

The Tian Art

"It may sound impossible to combine all these diverse cultural styles. Actually, I never seek to combine them," says Flora Cheong-Leen, designer and owner of the Tian Art. "I want to highlight the clash of East and West." Cheong-Leen's unusual East-West ethos has proven a hit both at home and abroad. "Western people do like my designs," she says. "They are sexy, but very Chinese in detail. In China, the time for all blue and gray has long gone. People here want to be individual and really daring."

Hong Kong-born Cheong-Leen spent her childhood in South America. At 9, she moved to London to study ballet. She traveled to Paris, Russia, the United States and Hong Kong, touching on a wide range of disciplines from Spanish dance to traditional Chinese dance, from fashion design to business. She was first invited to the mainland in 1993, as the artistic director of that year's Dalian International Fashion Festival.

Now in Beijing, Tian Art has expanded into five shops since its first opened in Full Link Plaza. Prices for a summer short-sleeve shirt range 400-700 yuan. Formal dress costs 780-980 yuan.


1/F, Full Link Plaza

Tel: 6588-0556

China World Trade Center

Tel: 6505-1252

Scitech Shopping Center

One World Department Store

Kunlun Shopping Center

Mu Zhen Liao

Mu Zhen Liao provides nearly 1,000 different kinds of material in a variety of collars and styles. Every month, more than a dozen new styles are put out, though only several pieces for each style and size. After being measured, you pick up the clothes in 15 days. Mu Zhen Liao also does Chinese-style clothing for children.


Cofco Plaza

Dongdanbeidajie Road

China World Shopping Mall

Xidan Shopping Center

Vantone New World


Xin Dong'an Market

Ma Ling Fashion & Accessories

Founded in 1989, Ma Ling Fashion & Accessories was China's first personal fashion enterprise. Ma Ling's fashion show was held in Paris, Hong Kong and Beijing in 1988, when she was 19. The same year, the movie Rock Stars brought her fame in the lead role.

As general designer, Ma Ling's style has a strong Chinese flavor, reserved and elegant. The company's strengths include tailor-made qipao, bridal gowns and theater dress.


Cofco Plaza

Huawei Mansion

Vantone New World

Parkson Department Store

Tel: 6317-6752

The Hongqiao Market

Chinese-style clothing on the second floor of Hongqiao market is almost the same as the Silk Market, and the price is also affordable. There are several stalls specializing in antique clothing on the third floor.

According to vendor Huang Meirong, much of the antique clothing hails from Shanxi and Shandong. The clothes here allegedly used to be worn by officials at the imperial court. He said some foreigners liked to buy the more intricate robes and hang them in display cases as object d'art.

Five Colors Earth

"The first time I saw a piece of Guizhou embroidery, I felt someone knocking on the door of my heart," says He Hongyu, general manager and chief designer of Five Colors Earth. The most distinct character of Five Colors Earth is that every piece of clothing has one or two pieces of Guizhou embroidery produced by the Miao and Dong minority people.

Classic Guizhou embroidery skills are fast becoming a lost art. Most of the embroidery on sale today boasts a history of 30 to 100 years. The design of Five Colors Earth fashion is very personal. It starts with every piece of embroidery, often with a specific customer in mind. The designer often hand-dyes the background silk to match the color of the embroidery. Thus every piece of clothing at Five Colors Earth is also an artwork and a fresh idea about Chinese heritage.

The clothing there includes casual clothes and evening dress. A jacket with old Guizhou embroidery costs about 1,000 yuan, and an evening dress with antique embroidery costs 1,000 to 3,000 yuan.

Antique embroidery bags to match the clothing range from 200 to 800 yuan.


First floor of Dongcheng Children’s Palace (near Poly Plaza)

First floor, Building 10, Sanlitun zhongjie Road, Chaoyang District

One World Department Store

St. Regis Hotel


Silk Market

The Silk Market has a variety of traditional Chinese-style clothing. You may find tapestry satin qipao, vests and women's tops, women and men's flax tops. The typical high-collar, narrow-waist jackets flatter all figures. Chinese-style clothing for children can be reckoned cutest, including qipao, suits and vest. Clothing fits children between 2 and 6. The embroidered satin clothing comes in bold, bright colors. The flax clothing is quietly elegant. The kind of Chinese-style clothing to be found the market is neither of excellent workmanship, nor of superior fabrics. However, for ordinary people looking for a little retro revival fashion, spending 50 yuan on a top or around 100 yuan for a shiny qipao is a fun investment. All prices are negotiable at the Silk Market. It all depends on your bargaining skills.

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