A photograph of the Yoe family
(From left) Cheng Chang, husband Sing Kow Yoe, Fuan Nan, Yua Nan, Yua Haw (in front), Foo Ying Yoe and Cheng Ming. (Courtesy of Yua Haw Yoe)
The Yoe family initially settled in West Croydon.[See Note1] Yua Haw remembers her mother wearing the two ‘day’-style cheongsams frequently through the summer months in London. These garments are simple but beautifully made — the green is a printed cotton fabric of a style also found in Western fashions of the 1950s-1970s. They are accompanied by a petticoat, historically always worn with a cheongsam. Modern versions, though, are more likely to be lined. The petticoat donated to the museum has been very carefully designed to complement the shape of the upper garment. It has a discreet snap fastening on the right shoulder strap — echoing the fastening on the cheongsam — and small slits on either side of the hem.
After two years in London, the family moved to a small village outside Guildford but made monthly ‘pilgrimages’ to London’s Chinatown for Chinese ingredients they could not find locally. Yua Haw recalls: “We would come up by train from Wanborough, via Guildford to Waterloo, then the tube to Leicester Square. At that time, shops were more limited, so we usually went to Loon Fung, where the purchases would be soy sauce, fresh chillies, ginger, garlic, noodles and vegetables that were not available locally. We would then end up at one of the restaurants (Loon Fung, Lido) for some lunch before returning home, laden with our goodies.”