By Xin Wen
In the Mood for Love is a film made by a Hong Kong director Kar Wai Wong. This director was famous for not having a script. When shooting In the Mood for Love it is said that the crew moved from Beijing to Macau because the authorities asked Kar Wai Wong to show them the full script, but he did not have one. Though the shooting did not follow an actual script, the atmosphere in the film was beyond compare: romantic, elegant, oppressive, and passionate. People who were familiar with Kar Wai Wong knew that the storyline was never his focus—in this case, it was pretty simple too: a man (Tony Leung) and a woman (Maggie Cheung) were neighbors, and they both discovered that their spouses were having affairs. They were friends at first, but as time went by they became close and did not know exactly what their relationship was…
The dresses by William Chang
Apart from the original sound track of this film, which by the way is fantastic, the Chinese dresses wore by Maggie Cheung were the most eye-catching scenery. To reconstruct the exact kind of Cheongsam from 1950s, the art director William Chang and the director Kar Wai Wong extracted over 300 old film clips within which the actresses were wearing Cheongsam. William Chang even took some premium cloths out of his personal collection and contributed them to the costumes of the film. Together with a few experienced retired tailors from Shanghai, William Chang made 46 pieces of fine Cheongsams for Maggie Cheung. Though some of them did not survive to the final cut, we can see the beauty of them from a few snapshots here.
The history of Cheongsam
You must have noticed that the Cheongsams Maggie Cheung wore were extremely tight, but actually Cheongsam as a general kind of clothing worn by the noble class of Qing Dynasty, was baggy and loose. The reason led to this is that Qing Dynasty was built by a minority group; Qi people—whom used to live in the north-east part of China and usually rode horses to fight or to travel. For the convenience of riding horses gradually their clothes adopted a loose-fitting one-piece dress style. After Qi people dominated the country, they popularized their Cheongsam to ordinary Chinese people in other regions of the country.
The appearances of Cheongsam for women did not change much during nearly 300 years of Qing Dynasty. It was until Xinhai Revolution that it changed its style—the sleeves were shortened and the overall piece was fitting. In Shanghai, during the 1920s, the modern style of Cheongsam emerged and became the favorite of upper-class Chinese women. As the rise of womens’ position in the society increased, women were allowed to wear clothes that revealed their body curves. Of course today Chinese women can wear whatever they want, but the freedom to choose was not always there.
Pictures came from www.douban.com