Friday, August 8, 2014

Singapore Cheongsams :: Lark and Peony Workwear

It's great that the cuts for modern cheongsams nowadays make it so easy for daily wear downtown, to tea with friends or dates with my dear hubby. I'm slowly trying to include more pieces in my wardrobe.. and perhaps wear them more often as my "signature style" hahaha

However, I find that some designs and prints are a little too casual for work, especially meetings with important clients and the higher-ups. And this is why I la-la-la-loved the new workwear collection from Lark and Peony the moment I saw it.

Established since 2012, this online boutique is pretty popular among my friends who love modern cheongsams and hence one of the first few shops I included in my list of places to buy cheongsams in Singapore. Modern cheongsams from Lark and Peony use beautiful quality fabrics mainly from Japan, Australia, USA and other parts of Asia. Designed for the modern woman who is aware of the trends but stays true to her individual style, they aim to revive the nostalgic love of cheongsams among contemporary dressers by weaving modernity, comfort and sensibility into every piece.

Like many of their collections named after women of historical importance, Lark and Peony's work-wear collection is named after Princess Pingyang {平阳公主}, the daughter of Emperor Gaozu of Tang, the founding emperor of the Tang Dynasty. She helped him to seize power and eventually take over the throne from Sui Dynasty by organizing an "Army of the Lady" {娘子軍}. She was righteous, capable and ambitious.. exactly like how Lark and Peony envision their customers wearing these work-appropriate cheongsams to be.

The Princess Pingyang collection is available in 5 colours {S$188 each}, and I got my hands on the Princess in Aubergine, and the yet-to-be-released Princess in Royal Blue {I made that up by the way since the name is not confirmed yet heh}.

The Princess Pingyang cheongsams are not your typical sleeveless-modern-cheongsams-with-pleated-skirts. It is really versatile and I can think of at least 4 ways of wearing it with its foldable high mandarin collar {has inside prints}, and detachable belt inspired by the Japanese obi {don't worry, it's not as difficult to wear!}.

The short puff sleeves are great at hiding my tofu arms haha and when the boy first saw me in it, he said "wow, you look so slim!!" Not to mention my gal friends, but some of my guy friends who are usually bo-chup oblivious to new dresses or hairstyles {"you mean you've cut your hair??!"} have noticed the cheongsam and complimented me on it as well #winning #ineedtogetmore

I think this is mostly due to broad belt that hides my tummy, and the stretchy polyester material that fits my body and curves like a glove. Not too tightly like a bodycon dress though. It really is soooo comfortable and one of the best parts is that it is crease-free!! Absolutely no ironing is required {HUGE bonus points there} and it looks great even after sitting at the desk for the whole day i.e. no unflattering crease lines 

The Princess in Aubergine comes in a rich purple with colourful belt that complements it beautifully. Absolutely stunning.

I also like the Princess in Royal Blue because of its elegant colour and the belt with seikaiha {blue sea wave, 青海波} prints. It's a traditional Japanese motif consisting of concentric circles that have been overlapped to only show the top portion of each circle. The seikiha pattern represents the boundless ocean and is a symbol of good luck. Junie, the designer behind Lark and Peony, is currently residing in Tokyo so you can find a lot of Japanese-inspired designs in her cheongsams.

Actually whenever I see the seikiha, it also reminds me of the famous ukiyo-e {浮世絵} woodblock print - The Great Wave {kanagawa oki nami ura, 神奈川沖浪裏}, by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. It is his most famous piece, and one of my favourite Japanese artwork.

I did not edit any colours from these photos {taken both indoors and outdoors} so what you see on your screen, is really what you get #nofilter

If there is one thing that I'm not that fond of, it is the 2 stitch lines in the front of the dress. It seems to end rather awkwardly at the bust-line so that the boobs look slightly pointy {to me anyway, it's not obvious to others unless they stare haha}. I'm no seamstress nor clothes designer, so I'm not sure if it's even possible to make it "less awkward".. but maybe if it tapered towards the side of the dress or ended slightly higher?? Just a minor detail though, and doesn't spoil the whole outfit.

There are usually 10 pieces per Lark and Peony design to preserve the artfulness and exclusivity of each design so the chances of you bumping into someone else wearing the same dress as you is pretty slim. The downside is that their cheongsams get snapped up pretty quickly and they do not usually reproduce a piece that has been archived.

The whole Princess Pingyang collection will be released in the coming weeks so sign up for a membership account with them on the Lark and Peony website so that you don't miss any news! A little birdie told me that a new vintage collection will be out soon too ;)

Sizes S - XL are available and for your reference, I'm wearing a size M for both dresses. If you're between sizes, it should be safe for you to choose the smaller size for the Princess Pingyang collection as the fabric stretches well and should give you a better fit. Free registered delivery to Singapore addresses, and international shipping is available.

Check out more on their "modern cheongsams" and "classic cuts" here. For more tips from a busy working mama, read these posts.

Update: I loved this range so much I bought their Princess in Crimson with Shippo Prints released in Jan 2015. It's so gorgeous!

* Disclosure: This is a review for Lark and Peony. All opinions are my own.


Unknown said...

Love the princess cheongsam. Wish I had the figure to carry it off!

Unknown said...

Wow you look awesome in them!

Six Little Hearts said...

So simple and stylish and elegant!
You look fantastic!

Delphine said...

Love their cheongsams! You look great!

An Apel a Day said...

Such cute dresses! I love the waist on them.

Agy said...

Love the purple one on you, and the collar is ingenious!

Stacy said...

They don't look like cheongsams to me, but they're very nice! Especially the first one.

Ai Sakura said...

Stephanie: You'll be surprised that you just might! There were some pieces I thought didn't suit me as well but when I tried them on.. they did :P Show you in the next post.

L Lee, Six Little Hearts: thank you :)

Delphine: Thanks and as I told you earlier, just try them! haha..

Alissa: Yup such an interesting detail.

Agy: thanks. Versatile dresses definitely gets more mileage ;)

Stacy: MODERN cheongsams! haha..

Angie @ Simply Mommie said...

U look gorgeous! :)

Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me said...

Beautiful! You know Ai when you meet me I'm going to look like a big, tall porker compared to your gorgeous petite self, lucky you'll love me anyway (I hope) xxx

Walking In May said...

Looking absolutely pretty and professional....femininity at its most powerful indeed. This is a gorgeous collection and I know what you mean about the quality and print of their fabrics...can't wait to see their next vintage inspired collection! Thank you for spreading the Cheongsam love too. Have a fabulous weekend my dear!
May x
~Walk through a day in May...Love~Qipao~Vintage

Unknown said...

Simi tofu arms! You look so slim in them! Nice! I love cheongsams. Used to wear them to work!

mummybean said...

The dresses look great on you! So tempted to get one though I erm, have no office to wear them to...

Masshole Mommy said...

You look beautiful. Classy, stylish and elegant!

Grace said...

Oh, I love the colour and style of these! Especially the blue one with the "obi". The blue and white stripes make a nice contrast and accentuate your tiny waist line nicely!

Rina said...

I love the blue one, it looks super gorgeous on you Ai!

Adeline said...

You look fabulous in the cheongsams! Such a classy look, and the cheongsams are indeed really unique.
PS. Love your blue ponytail! ;P