On style, she rules

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 February, 2011, 12:00am

There is a Shiseido advertisement on display everywhere with a woman (a celebrity?) wearing this gorgeous metallic dress with see-through edging. I can't find it in stores. I feel like I've seen it before and it's driving me crazy. I don't want anything else.

Gold Rush, Sai Ying Pun

The Dictator rules: Thanks, dear reader, for passing on the tedious task of visiting store upon store in search of one dress based on scant information. As it turns out, the edges of the dress worn by Hong Kong actress Charmaine Sheh Sze-man in the Shiseido advertisement were not in a sheer fabric but a solid one. How do we know? We found it. The dress (HK$14,900) is from the autumn/winter 2010 collection of Italian brand Mantu (Harvey Nichols, The Landmark, Central, tel: 3695 3388; www.castor-moda.it). You may not have heard of the label because it was only founded in 2008 but fashion insiders may recognise the name of its designer, Gigi Vezzola, who has worked with brands such as Krizia and Costume National. Mantu uses luxurious fabrics and exquisite tailoring to create a balance of glamour and everyday chic. Good luck finding that exact dress, though, as the last time we checked, it was headed for the sales racks to make way for the new season. You said you wouldn't consider other dresses and we won't recommend any because there's nothing quite like this dress out there. However, we'll leave you with another idea: if you can't track it down, consider having a tailor custom-make a similar dress for you, with fabric sourced at Western Market in Sheung Wan.

My mother told me to never cut my cuticles or they'd grow back thicker so I'm always fighting with manicurists who want to take a sharp instrument to them. But after wearing nail polish for too long and leaving my hand cream at home all the time, my cuticles are looking awful. Can you recommend something?

Making the Cut, Happy Valley

The Dictator: We're not a nail expert but we think a nail oil would do wonders for your cuticles and dehydrated nails. The Body Shop sells a great take-everywhere solution, the Almond Oil Nail & Cuticle Treatment pen (HK$109; 22 Russell Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2891 6790; www.thebodyshop.com.hk), which comes with a brush applicator and a lid that functions as a cuticle pusher. We also like the geranium-scented Organic Blend Nail Oil by &Nail (HK$148; City'super, Times Square, Causeway Bay, tel: 2506 2888). Organic beauty brand Melvita has the Lily Oil (HK$180; Times Square, tel: 2506 0322; www.melvita.hk), which is formulated to repair, soothe and protect nails. Apart from oils, of course, you could also try Burt's Bees' Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream (HK$128; Watsons, Times Square, tel: 2506 3081; www.burtsbeeshk.com); or Jurlique's Love Balm (HK$135; Times Square, tel: 2506 3028; www.jurlique.hk). Here's a tip: your cuticles will look better if you simply push them back with your thumbnail after every hand wash. Oh, and stop fighting with manicurists, would you?

I'm planning ahead for summer and I would love a 'natural' clutch bag but not the cheap old rattan-furniture-shop kind.

Natural Hold, Central

The Dictator: Oh, thanks for making that distinction because I was about to send you to a rattan furniture shop. (Are you kidding me?) Actually, Tory Burch's spring collection features gorgeous rattan clutches with wraparound closures in brown, gold or silver leather (HK$2,900; IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2234 7282). They might make you reconsider your stance on that particular natural material. One of our favourites this season is the Y Clutch in cork and black patent by Yves Saint Laurent (HK$4,900; Alexandra House, Central, tel: 2868 0092). For an eco-friendly alternative, try Stella McCartney's Falabella chain bag in natural beige or denim blue cotton canvas (HK$7,300; The Landmark, tel: 2801 6793). For those on a budget, Accessorize has cute ones, too, with either a metallic gold finish, or natural straw interwoven with multicoloured fibres (HK$350 to HK$420; IFC Mall, tel: 3101 1170). Instead of obsessing over perfectly matching shoes, let them highlight an element in the bag you choose. So, for example, if you buy the YSL bag, wear strappy black patent heels with it.