Leung Long Kong, the man behind Ms Chan’s iconic qipaos from “In the Mood for Love”（花樣年華), has a lifetime of stories to tell, and they go way beyond the costumes for the beloved classics. .
Leung Long Kong started as an apprentice before opening his own shop in Hong Kong’s coveted retail location. His qipaos rapidly gained a cult following among Hong Kong’s starlets and sparked the interest of Wong Kar Wai himself, the director of “In the Mood for Love’. According to Leung Long Kong, the filming was taking place in Causeway Bay, near his boutique, when the film’s producer reached out and asked whether they could dress Maggie Cheung, the lead of the film, in one of the stunning qipaos showcased in the store. .
Fitting like a glove, stamped with intricate printwork and embroidery, Leung Long Kong’s qipaos elevated the film’s sentiment to a suis generis visual experience, where the costumes communicated with the viewer as much as the actors’ gestures and facial expressions did.
“I have been in the business for fifty years, what else can I do?” - in conversation with The Master of Qipao. Leung Long Kong shares what makes the qipao that made it to ‘In the Mood for Love’ so special.
Leung Long Kong is a household name for many Hongkongers, being the synonym of the revival of The Cheongsam, the iconic fluid dress loved by the Chinese socialites across the twentieth century. For Maggie Cheung, Leung Long Kong created a whole new garment with a collar that was higher than its predecessor, designed specifically to accentuate the actress’ neckline. That dress was unique in so many ways. Leung Long Kong design was not realistic for the wider Hong Kong public since Hong Kongers are generally quite short. When wrapped around Maggie Cheung’s tall figure and slim neck, however, the piece created a nonpareil charm that translated beautifully from the silver screen.
After the 1970s, fashion designers stepped away from the loosely-fitted qipaos and started developing more fitted silhouettes that influenced the development of the femme fatale archetype in the East. In ‘In the Mood for Love’, however, Wong Kar Wai used the bodycon qipao silhouette to reflect Ms Chan’s sensitivity and deeply romantic nature. Staged against muted backdrops and in moving still life shots, the dress painted a beautiful and tragic picture.