There are perfectly good celebrity style moments, and then there are the looks that really stick with you, the ones you desperately try to recreate at home. in’Great outfits in fashion history,’ Fashionista editors revisit their all-time favorite lewks.
Perhaps one of director Wong Kar-Wai’s best films is “In the Mood for Love”, a slow-burning, visually arresting romance released in 2000, but set in 1960s Hong Kong. Although it depicts a period long before I was born, there is something about the lush cinematography, exquisite wardrobe and swoon-worthy plot that makes me feel an inexplicable connection to the film.
“In the Mood for Love” stars a legendary Cantonese actor Maggie Cheung as Mrs. Chan, a secretary who suspects her husband of cheating on her. Her neighbor, journalist Chow Mo-wan (played by Tony Leung), raises similar doubts about his wife. As the two team up to piece together the puzzle of their spouses’ adulterous affairs (to each other, nonetheless), the main characters also begin to develop forbidden feelings for each other.
The brilliance of the film is enhanced by the costume design by William Chang. Fashion is used as a plot vehicle throughout – the sartorial coincidences of each protagonist’s spouse is what dismisses their infidelity, for one. But perhaps the most stunning pieces are the rotation of cheongsams (or qipao) worn by Cheung. According to CNN ptyle, Chang had nearly 50 of the traditional Chinese garments, of which only about 25 appear in the final cut.
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The above still captures the climax of the film when the two characters try to confess their love for each other. Cheung wears a stunning multicolored purple, green and magenta floral cheongsam. The construction of her dress conforms to the style of a modern cheongsam, which has been adapted to have raised hemlines and a more figure-hugging silhouette from its traditional cut. Cheung’s hair is done in an updo to better reveal the high, stiff tangerine collar, the tightness of the dress perhaps a metaphor for her narrowing of emotions. The sleeveless style is adorned with roses and daffodils constructed from diaphanous chiffon and placed on textured tweed.
The brightly colored garment contrasts effectively with the dimly lit corridors and shadowy alleys where much of the film takes place, as well as the predominantly darker wardrobe worn by Mr. Chow. Cheung completes the look with a simple brown purse and silver earrings to allow the dress to take center stage.
Explore the gallery below for cheongsams and cheongsam-inspired pieces that embody the same sentiment as Maggie Cheung in “In the Mood for Love.”
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