When I lived in Hong Kong and traveled often to China, I had a few pieces of clothing custom-made, but never a qipao. The closest I’ve come to having a qipao tailor-made is from an online store in Nanjing.
But there’s something about going to a tailor, getting measured, and going back for a fitting that beats any other shopping experience. So it was high on my list of things to do while in Shanghai.
My friend Jocelyn sent me the names of several qipao tailors in Shanghai and even called to see if they were still open.
Like with most things, my problem was time. I would be in lectures, on walking tours, and at dinners from 8am to 9pm each night in Shanghai. But the fabulous folks at Shanghai Art Deco made it so easy.
They brought in a tailor and arranged fittings to suit our schedules. So on my first night in Shanghai, Mrs. Yang came up to my room at the Peace Hotel with fabric samples and her measuring tape. I knew I didn’t want a red qipao because that’s for weddings and I already have one.
In the end, I was torn between a black fabric with blue peonies and this dragonfly pattern.
Obviously I chose the dragonflies. Mrs. Yang said it made me look younger, so with those magic words I quickly made my decision.
Four days later, I met Mrs. Yang at the Peninsula Hotel in Shanghai and found that the dress fit well. Shanghai tailors are world-renowned and it totally shows in the quality of my dress.
The main reason Art Deco Shanghai employed Mrs. Yang’s services was because there was a gala at the Peace Hotel on the last night of the World Congress on Art Deco.
Having a qipao made was so much fun and the price wasn’t much different from what I paid 25 years ago to have a suit made in Hong Kong or when I ordered that custom-made qipao online from Nanjing. Having clothes tailor-made in China is often cheaper than buying them off the rack, so it’s not just for the rich and famous (case in point–me!).