Hong Kong’s role in the Asian fashion landscape has changed dramatically in the past two years. Thanks to the mainland, the city has become the Japan of the East – it’s THE place where the Chinese come to find the latest trends, brands and products. Because of this, we’ve evolved into a testing ground for Western brands looking to try their luck later on the mainland.
While this is great for its economy, it’s not ideal for our local talent. With so much focus on international brands, so many of our designers lose out when it comes to capturing the new Chinese clientele. It’s a point that I discussed recently on popular HK programme Money Magazine, along with my friend, fashion designer Johanna Ho.
That being said, I did feel a new wave of energy at the recent Hong Kong Fashion Week. While we still have a long way to go when compared to other Asian fashion weeks like Singapore or Japan, one event that I always look forward to is the Young Designers Contest. Although it has yet to churn out a budding Galliano like the Central Saint Martin’s graduate show, it provides a platform for young designers to experiment while gaining exposure and support of the local and international community.
This year, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council invited French creative director Marc Ascoli to be a judge (he’s the force behind some of the industry’s most iconic campaigns and images and is known for his work with the likes of Yohji Yamamoto). In addition to cash prizes, one of the winners will enjoy a one month internship at Paris-based Rue du Mail and the opportunity to work alongside the iconic French designer Martine Sitbon.
There were a total of 14 contestants who took part in the contest with four awards up for grabs. Here are, in my humble opinion, the top three rising stars of the Hong Kong fashion scene.
Elizabeth won three of the four awards thanks to her Hong Kong-inspired collection. The Central Saint Martin’s graduate was apparently inspired by a typhoon which explains her billowing yet voluminous Victorian floor length gowns. Each dress featured panels of waxed cotton and linen printed with vibrant digital prints (obviously a nod to London’s digital printers). It was a fun homage to the city’s British past – and possibly its elegant fashion future.
With futurism dominating the international runways, I found Joyce’s collection to be both relevant and interesting. Referencing traditional porcelain vases (hello Mary Katrantzou!) she created sculpted silhouettes made from leather, neoprene and moulded latex which appeared as though they were cracked. She contrasted this strong look with softer fabrics like silk and organza. An all-white palette added to the minimalist vibe.
Fear Tales by Holly Lai
Inspired by the darker side of Grimm’s fairy tales, Holly’s collection was both fierce yet feminine. Floor length black trench coats came with plenty of hardware and leather trims, and were matched will trousers and maxi skirts with thigh high slits. Balancing the tough look were crafty embroidered tops and dresses in bright colours such as yellow and coral. It was dramatic but wearable which I loved.
For more information visit www.fashionally.com, a portal dedicated to local designers