CREATIVES MINDS 5: THE QIPAO MAKERS


Qipao, also known as Cheongsam in Cantonese, has a long history way back in the 16th century. The Qipao (旗袍) was introduced by The Banner People (旗人), consisting of the Manchu, Mongo and Hans during the Qing Dynasty. The original Qipao was designed as long ropes to be worn by men and women. 

The style and design of the Qipao has moved through times, and became an iconic influence for its body-hugging and sleek cutting features amongst the Chinese during the 1920s. The Qipao was worn by the First Lady of China Madame Wellington Koo in which she was recognised by Vogue as the World's best dressed woman. Qipao, has then gain huge popularity, and has garnered a name for itself in the fashion industry till today.

Qipao still lives on at present, although there are fewer craft-men now to preserve its artistry. With modernisation, the design of Qipao has evolved, but its unique cutting still remains.


Recently, we had the opportunity to work with Huayin Art to create a 3 tier cake design to reflect the different Qipao designs they've designed. We took 15 different works that they have done, and see how we could deconstruct them by using only certain design elements to arranged them on cakes.





We mould every flower by hand, using rice paper, and painted and embroidered flowers on the cake surface with buttercream. The planning and craftwork took us 2 weeks to complete. The finish work is indeed captivating and memorable. We are thankful for the wonderful opportunity, and we are excited to have the ladies behind HUAYIN SILK, Wenhua & Flora to join us for a blog interview today.  



What is the design process like when working on the designs of your Qipao?




When it comes to the design of the Qipao, there are 2 parts we need to consider:
1. The Cutting & Style
2. Silk Embroidery
For the cheongsam cutting and style, we had to decide the style of the cheongsam first, followed by selecting the color and sketching the design (for e.g flowers, bird, butterfly ,etc). We will later decide on the rest of the details such as the collar design  (known as the pankou, 盘扣), the colour of the lining and fabric used for the over-edging and over-locking. We will think through on the cutting whether to stick to the traditional cut or to modernise it. After the primary design has been fixed, we will decide on the length of Qipao- long (ankle length), medium or short (kneecap length). 
For the silk embroidery, it is a long process. We need to discuss with the embroider on the colors, and what type of embroidery method is used. All the embroider at HUAYIN has at least 15 years of experience.


What made the both of you want to start Huayin in Singapore? 

Huayin Silk is an extension of  HUAYIN ARTS PTE LTD. We are dedicated to spread the Chinese Suzhou embroidery culture to the world. Apart from our standard Qipao, we do Su embroidery paintings, custom made embroidered silk Qipao, silk embroidery shawls, fan, ornaments and other products. Huayin's Su embroidery products reflects the long history and craftsmanship. 
Su embroidery is the most celebrated of the 4 main styles of Chinese silk embroidery. Evolving over 2000 years, it is widely acknowledged as the most exquisite silk hand embroidery in the world. Renowned for its subtle and refined needlework, Su embroidery is praised for its use of the finest threads, balanced compositions, dense stitching and smooth finish to achieve subtle and elegant work of art. Silk is predominantly used, and the threads are known to be as fine as human hair. Su embroiders usually have to split each silk strand into thinner threads- in half, in quarters, in eighths and so on, depending on the design of the embroidery. 


Both of us love Su embroidery and the rich culture of Qipao. We are passionate in creating and sharing the beauty of our Qipao around the world. The name HUAYIN comes from both of our names, Hua (华) from Wen Hua (⽂华), and Yin (音) from Jiayin (佳⾳).

3. I like the minimal and modernised patterns incorporated on your Qipao. Could you share and describe to us some of your favourite pieces?




i. Orchid Collection
When we started Huayin, we thought very carefully about having a design piece of cheongsam that resonates Singapore. 

ii. Iris Silk Embroidery at the back and shoulder on the transparent yarn. 
This design requires a highly skilled embroider. We chose a matte silk in dusty pink and blue color, to accentuate a youthful and refreshing look. 



iii. Butterfly Black Dress
We always believe less is more. For this design, we want to transcend a modern but elegant Qipao that you can wear in any occassion. We did not incorporate any Pankou, instead we chose a standing collar. We introduced a front split for a modern look. 


iv. Pan Jin Xiu (盘⾦金金绣)
 For this design, we chose a unique modern colour on a traditional design. We hope more young generations will get to know and appreciate the traditional skills behind the Qipao.


v. Wisteria Collection
We have 2 designs for this collections- one in dazzling blue to give a beautiful contrast with the soft petal design of the wisteria. The other, it is in silver. We pair it with a standing collar to match the purple wisteria.




4. How did you came to know Cupplets? Could you describe your experience when working on your cake designs with them? 


We found Cupplets through Instagram and were surprised by their cake designs and delicate craftwork. When we were invited to do a Qipao event exclusively for UOB privilege clients, we thought of Cupplets immediately. We wanted to do a cake display to complement the various designs of our Qipao. When we first saw the cake, it prove our decision was right, the cake for HUAYIN is gorgeous. 


5. What inspires you in doing what you do?

We have been thinking of doing something that is related to cultural heritage as we felt it brings a great sense of belonging. When we got started, our journey inspired us to introduce Chinese embroidery culture and skills to more people, and at the same time to educate the young on the craftsmanship behind traditional cheongsam. 

The cutting of a Qipao is unique, and we want to be able to continue the craftsmanship that has been passed on for so many years. It gives us a sense of motivation to keep creating whenever we see our customers try on their tailor-made pieces. The elegance and classical brilliance a Qipao can emit on a person is breathtaking and memorable. 


HUAYIN ARTS PTE. LTD.

Instagram: huayinsilk
Facebook: huayin silk
Address: 2 Venture Drive, #13-30, Vision Exchange, Singapore, 608526



1 comment

  1. We offer a wide range of the latest and trendy dresses under Qi Pao collection. Visit Noel Chu Atelier to buy or hire on rent any dresses from this collection!

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