While everyone is talking about China’s emerging designers, Hong Kong seems to have taken a back seat. Admittedly, our city hasn’t churned out an international success story for a while but meeting designers like Erbert Chong restores my faith that there is still plenty of good talent out there.
Erbert, like many Asian designers, was educated in the West at the best schools including Parsons in New York and later Esmod in Paris where he dabbled in accessories. Interestingly he became a talent scout for LVMH after graduating and was eventually offered a spot on the design team at Givenchy.
Rather than take the role he decided to return to Hong Kong to launch his own label.
“I really saw a need for a local luxury designer brand. There is so much skill and talent here there is no reason why we can’t be a true fashion capital like New York,” says the 30 year old.
I visited Erbert’s showroom in Kwung Tong last week to preview his spring/summer 2014 collection and was impressed. Called Safari54, the 12 piece collection features silhouettes taken from the Disco era (think wide legged trousers and broad shoulders) but that’s where the retro stops. Instead Erbert has given them an edgy, modern spin with a cool neutral palette, high quality fabrics and couture detailing that fashion insiders will love.
“I love the idea of angles, structure and geometry but at the same time I wanted to soften it with modern and feminine details. I’d say my style is graceful yet edgy,” he says.
Highlights include a long beige dress with peekaboo sheer panels down the sides and a detachable one shoulder cape (who doesn’t love a bit of drama?) A wide legged jumpsuit features a drapey top and stiff wide legged trousers made from Chinese brocade. There are also plenty of basics with a twist from brocade pencil skirts with raw edges and leather trims to a leather bustier and a pussy bow mesh blouse trimmed with leopard print silk. My favourites include the modern qi pao which comes with sporty rounded shoulders (a la Balenciaga) and sheer side panels, as well as the neoprene cropped bubble jacket.
Erbert seems to have achieved a good balance of creative and commercial pieces, while paying attention to quality (most are made by hand in local factories). While young designers often get carried away with a concept, his clothes are wearable. There is also a small but notable line of handbags including the Ellee, a geometric box bag with its bottom corners cut off. It wouldn’t look out of place next to your Celine classic box bag.
For more information please visit www.erbertchong.com. Online shopping coming soon.