Bruce Lee

Secrets of a self-styled icon

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 June, 2012, 12:00am

With a name like hers, it's fortunate that Elle 'Icon' Lee is tall, slim and feminine. 'People must wonder who I think I am,' she says, explaining that she came up with her middle name when searching for a Twitter handle. 'As my name is so common, I decided I'd be the 'iconic' Elle Lee. I laugh about it.'

Born in Shanghai, Lee was educated in Britain and lived in Australia and the US before coming to Hong Kong. She travels home three times a year to see her parents and to rotate clothing because her Hong Kong apartment is small: 'There are shoes in a cupboard, on a rack, under my bed ... '

Lee has worked in different areas, but her career revolves around one theme: fashion. 'I worked with Flora Zeta Cheong-leen, the haute couture designer. She's my mentor; she inspired me a lot.' Having previously modelled, Lee was familiar with the fashion industry. Cheong-leen taught her the possibilities of multitasking.

Specialising in digital media for a communications firm on accounts such as Jack Wills, Forever 21 and TW Steel kept fashion in Lee's life. 'Working with young fashion brands is amazing. They are open to creativity and new ideas. They aren't bound by rules,' she says.

Now working solo, the energetic Lee is even busier. 'I consult for fashion brands, focusing on social media and online marketing. I also have a blog and an online TV show,' she says. She presents Weibo Today, giving a weekly English-language summary of what's newsworthy on Chinese social networks.

Lee recalls her mother being fashionable. 'I would wear her red lipstick, trench coat and heels, when I was five,' she jokes. But the countries she's lived in have also played their part in inspiring her.

'I like to dress for the occasion. Each place created who I am today.' Britain had the largest impact on her: 'It embraces the world, and people aren't afraid to wear anything.' Lee says when she arrived there, she felt conservative: 'It opened me up to various styles. I would try anything, mix and match and be creative.'

Lee likes to accessorise simple outfits and started collecting glasses - both regular lenses and sunglasses - in Hong Kong. She says it's not just about transforming a look. Glasses also change how she feels. 'People don't notice when I'm not wearing make-up,' she says.

Collecting glasses isn't just about having a large selection. 'I like searching small boutiques in cities I visit. It's more fun when there's a personal story to it,' she says. Her favourite pair from Shanghai features a miniature carousel horse: 'They're special because I made them with the designer.'

A recent addition is Moo, a Thai brand. She discovered it through a friend of the designers, who had posted them on Instagram.

Lee says she's a tomboy at heart. 'I was stunned by Yves Saint Laurent's style, the clean-cut look and the trousers. He empowered women. My style is 'less is more'.'

When relaxing, Lee prefers a maxi-dress. 'It's comfortable and feminine,' she explains. Going out, she shows off her waist by pairing the dress with a belt and heels.

She also sports headbands, including Sereni & Shentel from Borneo (found on Gough Street), which was made popular by the television show Gossip Girl.

While Lee acknowledges that sometimes a high price tag indicates better quality, she also believes in affordability. 'I like high-end fashion, too, but sometimes you need to be practical. It's about the design, not the name.'