Monday, March 23, 2015

CHEONGSAM: The Asian Designer Ong Shunmuga

Ong Shunmugam is a Singapore-based contemporary womenswear label founded by designer Priscilla Shunmugam. The brand is known for its innovative take on the cheongsam and integrating traditional textiles and Asian-inspired designs in its collections. 

Collections from Ong Shunmugam
Elements from the cheongsam can be seen throughout all three dress, such as the rounded upright collar. The dress on the left is the most standard kind of the cheongsam, regardless of the shape and length, it seems more closely related to the traditional sense. 

The dress on the right retain the more modernized version, which is evident in terms of its length. The designer opt for a shorter length which could be influenced by the Shanghai style as well as the westernized idea of beauty. 

The dress in the center went with a more modern and chic style while still maintaining elements of the cheongsam. It flares out in a A line figure and covers mostly the legs. It could be influenced by the much popular maxi dresses. 

It seems that all three dresses have what seems to be only local Singaporeans can understand. Looking at the patterns of the dresses, it remains me (A Singaporean) of the tile patterns from old coffee shops, probably around the 1960s to 1970s. The designer of Ong Shunmugam is a Singaporean and she has included the local culture and patterns into her designs which brings out a sense of nostalgia.

Designers with Asian roots understand the elements that makes a cheongsam a cheongsam and retains those elements, because they know these are the elements that appeal to the audience. They incorporate other elements into the Cheongsam (such as the tile patterns and color choice) and not the Cheongsam into other elements, which is the main difference between the Western designers and the Asian designers. With the Asian perspective of the cheongsam, I don't have to explicitly point out that that is a cheongsam because it just is a cheongsam. 

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