It's perhaps the most iconic scene in the most iconic Hong Kong movie of all time.
The slender silhouette of the beautiful heroine, Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung), emerging from the darkness, revealing herself in a figure-hugging cheongsam.
The man she passes, newspaper editor Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung), can't help falling in love with such a figure of feminine elegance.
Set in the 1960s, the golden era of the cheongsam in Hong Kong, Wong Kar Wai's hit movie, "In the Mood for Love" (2000), which won multiple best foreign movie awards, was a powerful showcase for how elegant and sexy the classic Chinese dress can be.
Wong has said 20 to 25 cheongsam alone were made for the character played by Maggie Cheung.
"A Century of Fashion: Hong Kong Cheongsam Story," now running at the Hong Kong Museum of History until March 3, features 130 exhibits showcasing the history and evolution of the cheongsam, particularly the eras featured in popular films such as "In the Mood for Love" and "The World of Suzie Wong" (1960).
Early cheongsam a feminist statement
The exhibition is a study in the history surrounding the iconic Chinese dress that can be confusing even to Chinese -- the proper use of "cheongsam" and "qipao," for instance.
"We prefer to call it cheongsam -- not qipao," says Osmand Chan, assistant curator of the exhibition.
"Cheongsam means long robe in Cantonese and actually only became a common woman's wear after the May Fourth Movement (1919), or the New Culture Movement," he says.
"Women started wearing men's long robes as a feminist statement and trend during that anti-Qing era.
"Therefore, it's a bit of an oxymoron to continue calling the dress qipao, which refers to the robe of the Manchu (the ruling power of Qing Dynasty)."
Early cheongsam didn't have the tight, figure-hugging shape the dress is known for today, but was originally worn loose on the body.
The shape changed and became tighter in Shanghai in the 1920s and '30s, a time often referred to as the golden age of the cheongsam in Shanghai.
With the rise of the Communist Party in the late 1940s and '50s, however, the dress, and the decadent Shanghai style it invoked, was restricted.
Shanghai tailors fled to Hong Kong, bringing the cheongsam with them.
The trend picked up quickly and Hong Kong experienced its own golden age of the cheongsam in the 1950s and '60s.
Founded in 1966, Linva Tailor is one of the longest-standing cheongsam shops in Hong Kong.
While it's often assumed that owner and master tailor Leung Ching-wah made some of the costumes for Maggie Cheung in "In the Mood for Love," he says he can't talk about it.
Leung represents the old guard -- tailors who recognize the beauty of a boar-shaped cut or a sword-shaped binding on a side slit.
His wife, Joana Fung, dissects a cheongsam the way a sommelier talks about wine.
"The beauty of a cheongsam is not in the fabric -- fabrics can be purchased, but not the skills," says Fung.
Leung started apprenticing under a Shanghai tailor when he was 16.
He opened Linva Tailor seven years later.