way to get your mind off your financial troubles than to put on
a fashion show? The economy in Hong Kong is in serious recession
but that did not stop the city from holding its fifth annual fashion
week in much the same style it has become accustomed to.
Outside of Japan the event is the pre-eminent
fashion meeting in Asia, with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council
taking care of logistics and participants flying in from over 20
different countries. In attendance were the usual pop starlets and
media hordes as well as a certain type of ostentation peculiar to
this former British colony. Despite obvious signs of recession it
was plain from last week’s event that the Asian love affair with
brands, and especially brands associated with wealth and prestige,
is alive and well.
For a century-and-a-half, wealth and prestige
came from Europe to this part of Asia and the need to copy styles
from labels on the continent still seems to predominate here. As
the unusually tall women who walked as if they were wearing flippers
paraded down the catwalk at this year’s Hong Kong Fashion Week,
there was a sense that what you were seeing in the designs was a
careful interpretation of what was going on in Paris, London and
The bright happy colours from the local designers
seemed to reflect the need for cheerfulness in the gloomy commercial
climate while their designs tended towards the more conservative,
proving that these clothes were aimed at the buyers and not meant
to make any statements. Denim enjoyed a revival amongst many of
the participating designers after expectations in the fashion world
that it may be on the decline. On the other hand, vintage clothing
did not feature despite its popularity in other fashion centres
around the world. I guess that is not really surprising when you
consider this part of the world’s reliance on textile manufacturing.
A focus of this year’s event was the launch of
several new labels, including some from the large contingent of
Korean designers who were numerous enough to warrant their own runway
show. Korean fashion is often flamboyant, tending towards ridiculous,
but this year the styles could be described as rather subdued.
The highlight of the week was probably the collection
from the winner of the Hong Kong new fashion award Hidy Ng Kwan
Kay. Her Bohemian collection defied the adage that the skirts get
shorter when the economy gets worse, with long, flowing skirts and
singlets topped off with scarves. Not only were her garments voted
the most creative, her choice of theme titles showed up such irrelevancies
as ‘Cool cool blue,’ ‘Secret garden’ and ‘Passage to wonderland’.
Apart from the six or so catwalk shows, the week
also involved a number of seminars and a massive trade fair that
included stalls displaying everything from buttons and costume jewellery
to haute couture. Of course, the two extremes were separated at
either ends of the massive new Hong Kong event centre by the fashion
spectrum in between.
Somewhere in the middle could be witnessed the
surprising sight of a couple of Aussie bloke models in their outback
gear parading up and down a makeshift aisle with partners in full
bridal regalia. A total of 10 Australian designers had stalls in
the event and a seminar entitled ‘Selling your label in Australia’
talked about the inter-reliance of the Asian and antipodean markets.
The emphasis placed on overseas buyers was yet another reminder
of just how reliant business and fashion are on each other, while
the most noticeable shortfall of the well-organized and professional
fashion week was the absence of any sort of after-fashion show soirée.
After each event all the participants and guests went on their way
without so much as a glass of sparkling grape juice. This very unfashionable
development is perhaps another sign of just how bad things have
gotten financially in the notoriously decadent city. • Jamil
Jamil Anderlini is a guest contributor to Lucire.
Visit Hong Kong
Trade Development Council
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