The Cheongsam Reflects Oriental Glamour: Hsu Jung-yi

"In the Mood for Love" impressed people with its glamorous cheongsams worn by Maggie Cheung. The movie was considered a perfect presentation of the beauty of the dress, provoking an addiction by contemporary women to beautiful cheongsams.

The dress has become precious because only a handful of tailors still produce the authentic cheongsam at the moment. Hsu Jung-yi is a tailor with fifty years of experience in making cheongsams and Tang-style suits. In order to understand how a handmade cheongsam is produced, I visited the master at his shop. He was working to make the cheongsams with his junior colleague Hsu Yi-ho and with his newest apprentice Wayne Lee in a small studio when I paid a visit.

Hsu Jung-yi, 70, was born in Yunlin County, one of Taiwan's poorest regions. He had never engaged in dressmaking in his hometown. He was a farmer before he left to learn the art of cheongsam-making as an apprentice to a Shanghainese master. From then on, his life has been intimately linked with cheongsams. He also met his junior colleague Hsu Yi-ho while he was an apprentice. They have worked as partners for more than forty-five years. After their master retired, they took over his shop. They recently took on a new apprentice, Wayne Lee, 21. He just completed his military service this year.

I asked him why he wanted to learn cheongsam-making instead of looking out for a more common job. He said that when he was considering what kind of jobs he would like to do after retiring from the military, he found that he felt interested in the design of clothes. Moreover, he decided to learn the making of cheongsams as an apprentice because there are less and less tailors in a skill which he felt should not be lost to the world.

"He is clever and quick in his work and one of the best apprentices I have ever had. I never had to show or tell him anything more than once," said Hsu......

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