Picture a classic 50’s or early 60’s dress in a rich tone-on-tone brocade. The lines of the dress are on par with fashionable evening wear of the era, but the garment is done up in fabric that’s got an Asian design and feel. Look at the label- it might be made in Hong Kong, which was the hub of amazing hand made sequined, beaded, and embroidered items from the late 1940’sthrough the early 60’s.
British Hong Kong had a booming garment industry which became really fashionable after Paris featured the “Asian Look” in 1955. These super classy dresses had high quality fabrics, and were finely tailored with excellent hand work.
These pieces tend to be semi formal evening wear in a low-sheen satin jacquard fabric. Sometimes they have details we associate with Chinese clothing, like mandarin collars and frog closures, and some are the classic cheongsam, or form-fitting Asian dress. Some are Western wiggle dresses, meaning the hem is narrower than the hips. I often come across Hong Kong dresses with matching boxy jackets, boleros, cocoon coats or lightweight “opera coats”. Occasionally I see slim, high waisted pants, sometimes with a matching tunic.
Hotels in Hong Kong featured tailoring salons where tourists could have a frock made to measure. The most famous of these was the Dynasty salon. Here are some of their ads, which are kind of cringe inducing with their non-PC images from an earlier, more naive era..
Here are a few silhouettes common in BCC Hong Kong fashions:
And here are a few modern ladies wearing their Hong Kong finery: