Best customer turns collaborator as duo slip into a long-time promise

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 October, 2009, 12:00am

One of Bonita Cheung Kit-man's best customers has become a collaborator. The Hong Kong fashion designer co-launched a label called Ni-Chi with Reina Chau, the wife of watch distributor Kevin Chau Kwok-fun. Cheung (pictured, right) and Reina Chau have been friends for years, but six months ago the relationship changed to that of a creative partnership. 'We would always sit around and throw ideas back and forth,' Chau recalled. 'She would always say 'why don't we do something together?' We've talked for a long time, and finally decided we have to do it now or it's never going to be done.'

The resulting collection consists of constructed coats and autumn-coloured dresses that are retro yet novel in detail. And it has just been launched at Harvey Nichols. 'We try to do something interesting but still basic and easy to wear,' said Cheung. 'Working in this way is a different channel for me. With a client, I have to understand her needs ... But this is a much more true expression of my style and passion. And it's not just for skinny models. I tried on all the samples to make sure I can wear them, too.'

For Chau, a self-admitted tai-tai - 'I haven't worked in years' - the experience proved enjoyable and educational. 'I needed to learn everything [about design]. The toughest part was to develop discipline because you need to make time for it. Bonita has her work, so this is like a side project for her and so we had to figure out our time quite a bit. Sometimes we'd just sit and talk. Then, we'd look up at the clock and realise, oh, another day is gone.'