Going with the flowing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am


Melbourne-born Cynthia Leong, owner of fashion boutique Alexa & Todd, has remained loyal to her Australian roots when it comes to her wardrobe choices.

The rails are filled with jersey or sheer maxis and lightweight shirts in colourful prints. They're the sort of pieces you'd pack for a beach holiday, but Leong wears them with grace in the heart of Hong Kong, with a little help from some vintage accessories and cool jackets.

'You have to be comfortable in what you are wearing,' says the petite Leong. 'If you love it, you will feel good in it. A lot comes of it down to confidence.'

Leong explains why Aussie designers continue to dominate her fashion choices: 'Australian designers really focus on quality. And they go to extra lengths to achieve it.'

Her favourites include a few maxi numbers from Alannah Hill, a brand that is special to Leong because she got her first part-time sales job with the designer while at college.

'I learned how to style by working with Hill for six years on the sales floor,' says Leong.

'She puts everything on top of everything - knits on cotton on silk, you name it. That's what drove me to love fashion. I got to play with all the colours, fabrics and prints.'

Some of her favourite labels from Down Under include the quirky Romance Was Born, the cool and chic Scanlan & Theodore, Alice McCall's charming romantic prints, and the versatile Indigo.

'I like everything that's long, flowing and bohemian. I love simple colours as much as floral prints. I wish people in Hong Kong would wear more colours,' she says.

Leong lists Nicole Richie, Rachel Zoe and Alexa Chung as some of her style heroines.

'I like Nicole's style for her feminine silhouette. Rachel Zoe is casual and sophisticated - she's always in vibrant hats and J brand jeans. Alexa's my favourite. She's boyish and gorgeous.'

Leong founded her Hollywood Road boutique a year ago after identifying a gap in the market.

'I love dresses that I can wear with pumps, and more casually with wedges and sandals. In Hong Kong, I find things are either super expensive or super cheap, but there's not much in between.

'I was in Central Plaza and I saw a woman walking towards me wearing the same dress I had bought from Zara. So I thought, that's it. I have to do something about this. I want to bring in brands that are affordable and beautiful. Brands you can wear all the time.

'I'm not very brand-oriented. In Melbourne, we don't always have the luxury of Lanvin or Prada. But we do have a lot of fashion diversity,' she says.

Leong is a regular at the second-hand boutiques in SoHo. And whenever she travels abroad, she checks out the local flea markets.

'I'm a real sucker for vintage clutches. I went to Tokyo recently and I picked up four clutches at once. It's a disgusting habit, but it's great fun to flip through all the goodies,' she says.

Leong says she has learned to trust her instincts when she's deciding what to wear each day. 'I used to try on four or five different outfits in the morning, and get really angry. But I've got better at it since I came here,' she says.