The metro

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 September, 2008, 12:00am

I have been thinking a lot about what defines this decade and I draw a blank. Fashion in the 1970s might have been a little delusional and 80s style was trashy, but at least you can define them.

Because these decades are so distinctive, we're now looking back to them for fashion inspiration.

Since the beginning of the noughties, it seems that men have become lost. In the past few years, I have seen an increased number of nondescript sneakers, rags that are worn as shorts, nylon laptop bags, hiking sandals (in non-hiking situations) and numerous other fashion offences simply too awful to name.

But the blame doesn't lie on just one side. I think fashion collections have sometimes got a bit lost, too. There was once an attempt to make men wear skirts, and Nicholas Tse Ting-fung went for it. No, it didn't work. And if it didn't work for him, it wouldn't work for most men.

There are certain things that just shouldn't come back, and I was horrified to see rolled-up dangling jeans trunks with high-top sneakers on the runways for autumn. I hated this combination in the 80s, and I still don't like it now. After seeing that, I am praying to all things holy that no one is going to try to bring back ugly shoulder pads. You either have defined shoulders or you don't.

Dressing should be about working with the shape you have and wearing things that flatter it. Certain things in fashion history have become classics, and one of the most recognisable are ushanka - Russian fur caps (far right).

Salvatore Ferragamo has incorporated them into its latest autumn collection, together with some dangerously sexy coats, including a reversible one that combines flannel with leather and alligator skin. If any brand can make a double-faced coat look sensational both ways, it's Ferragamo.

Too bad that Hong Kong is rarely cold enough for an ushanka. But if I don't get to wear it somewhere up north, I'll probably don it just to go to the Vodka Room in Balalaika for a few shots of the good stuff.

Scarves are also becoming hot this season - the silk ones that you wear in the place of a necktie, classic wool ones for keeping warm and showy numbers such as Burberry Prorsum's feather scarf (below), a must-have for men who are dare to experiment and full of surprise.

I don't understand high-top sneakers, but I love boots and, happily, there are quite a few choices this season, including a pair of dark brown grainy leather Jodhpur boots (above) by Brooks Brothers and a black furry number by D&G. Both would be good with jeans, but I'd probably wear the former for the day and the latter at night. (And I have room for a third pair: brushed calf boots with a lace-up back.)

D&G is also offering a great range of patent leather accessories, ranging from shoes to belts and wallets. I love shiny stuff (which is probably obvious after I revealed that I own a silver-sequined wallet), and patent leather fits the bill. A pair of shiny footwear in this material is to die for. Can you believe that patent leather was invented in New Jersey? I used to say to people, 'You look like you're from New Jersey' as the ultimate insult, and now I might have to take it back.

I am also glad to see shoes getting pointy again, as in the gorgeous classic toe-tap derby in dark brown oldanil by J.M. Weston.

If you want to get really serious, have an Oxford Spectator in black patent calfskin and grey suede calfskin (bottom) made to order. These shoes make your feet look long and slender, and how can that be bad?

Have I complained enough about Hong Kong men's sneakers? Probably not. If you're not wearing sneakers in a sport or active situation, you wear fashion sneakers, that is sneakers that don't look like sneakers, as in Raf Simons printed croco leather sneakers (left).

Another gripe I have is that men in Hong Kong don't put enough emphasis on bags. There is no such thing as one-bag-fits-all. You need different bags for different occasions and moods.

And when it comes to bags for men, the bigger the better. I carry a big bag everywhere I go because I'm 183cm tall and would look ridiculous with a tiny bag - and it leaves extra room for things I buy so that I don't end up with 10 plastic bags.

So after a silver bag, a suede safari bag, a faux snake-skin bag, a matt-silver backpack and a few more that I've forgotten,

I'm ready for a new conquest: Bally's cardamom-coloured travel bag in opossum.

Oh, and a blue sandhurst holdall by Mulberry: it's the size I want, and I haven't got a blue bag yet.

Shopping list

Bally, Shop 211-212, Times Square, Causeway Bay, tel: 2506 3312

Brooks Brothers, Level 2 Pacific Place Seibu, Admiralty, tel: 2918 1722

Burberry Prorsum and Raf Simons, available from Lane Crawford, Shop 3025-26, 3031-66, IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2118 7683

D&G, Shop 249, Pacific Place, Admiralty

J.M. Weston, Shop 112, Level 1, Ocean Centre, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Mulberry, bags available from

Salvatore Ferragamo, Shop 2087-88, 2/F, Elements, Kowloon, tel: 2196 8031