Capital delights prove to be stylish fit

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 June, 2008, 12:00am

Professionals share their experience of relocation

Just as the Manchurian pigtail suddenly vanished, the Beijing style box-haircut has become a nostalgic memory in the modern capital as the business of designing cool coiffures booms.

Riding the crest of the trend is Hong Kong stylist Jazz Yuen who was transferred north a year ago after developing his skills in London and then in his hometown with established chain 04 Osmosis. 'I think they asked me to go because I had experience of managing a store, and I speak English and Putonghua,' says 27-year-old Yuen.

After learning his trade at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Britain, the former Happy Valley resident returned home to complete his apprenticeship. 'After three years back in Hong Kong I saw an opportunity to open my own salon when rental prices dropped because of Sars. We had to close after two years because the rent doubled, but it was a valuable experience.'

Being informed, and creative with designs are the keys to keeping clients satisfied, said Yuen who, as top stylist, manages the chain's only Beijing establishment in the Shangri-La Hotel. 'Beijing people like to change their style regularly which is different from Hong Kong where people are more conservative,' he said. 'On their first visit clients will ask for suggestions. I usually ask a few questions: what's your job, how do you do your hair at home, what products do you use. We try to learn about their situation.'

Men have more requests, he added. 'Once a client asked me to make him look like Mao Zedong, but his hair wasn't suitable for that. I told him, but I think he idolised Mao and insisted I do it.'

Beijing nightlife and a network of Hong Kong friends in the industry have persuaded Yuen, a part-time club DJ, that the mainland is where he will remain. Earning a Hong Kong salary and accommodation five minutes from the hotel are the rewards.

'My father is a restaurant manager but has always encouraged me as he said it is a trade in which you can find work anywhere in the world. Shanghai appeals to me, but this is the capital and I intend to develop my career here. It's possible to find well paid work as a stylist, especially if you have trained in Hong Kong where the techniques are advanced and more sensitive to fashions. But you need Putonghua and English language skills.'