Students' stunning fashion statement
None of the designs on the Hong Kong catwalk last week would have looked out of place on the runways of New York, Paris, Milan or London.
Yet all of the clothes featured at the annual Graduation Fashion Show were created by students at the Hong Kong Design Institute and Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Lee Wai Lee).
The graduates were presenting their final designs while competing for cash prizes of up to HK$20,000 at the show held at the design institute's auditorium.
Under the watchful eye of a panel of expert judges, models showed off the different outfits accompanied by a frenzy of flashes, clicks and whirs from the photographers' cameras.
The catwalk models sashayed along a specially designed runway - built to resemble the letter M (or W, depending on which side you were sitting) - in time to pulsating music and ever-changing coloured lights.
The student designers, who had clearly worked hard to create the outfits, received thunderous applause at the end of the hour-long show. Most of them hope to become fashion designers and start their own brands in Hong Kong, or abroad.
One of the outstanding collections was designed by Joe Yip Chi-chung. The six pieces which formed his 'Mortgage Slave' collection closed the show.
His designs featured special prints, spikes and - as a special flourish - strips of black plastic flowers.
Benny Yuen Chun-wai's collection, 'Transparent Human', was inspired by a glass of water. Yuen wanted to transfer this idea of transparency onto his clothes. He used layered see-through plastic, with clinking vials of red and blue water, to represent human DNA. He even added dry ice to the hems of a dress in reference to the fact that human bodies are made up mostly of water.
Ryan Tse Cheuk-shing's collection, 'Renaissance Code', featured a giant glove. His designs were an eye-catching mishmash of different periods and featured strong church symbolism. Tse was fascinated by the motif of God's hand, which appears in many paintings. He also incorporated the fading colours and peeling nature of old paintings into his designs, as evidenced by the subdued, simple colour palette.
'I wanted to take this opportunity to showcase my faith and my passion,' Tse says.
Penny Chan Ka-ling, another graduate designer, says pursuing a career as a fashion designer in Hong Kong presents many challenges.
'It is hard enough trying to do the hand-sewing, fabric-cutting and styling of clothes, let alone simply trying to make it as a fashion designer in the industry,' Chan says.
One of the judges, Anson Shum, who is head of communication at German fashion house Hugo Boss, was very impressed with the wide range of creative designs on display.
'It's not just about having the most eye-catching or artistic pieces, [but it's also about the designs being marketable and wearable],' he says.
'You have got to understand the business and learn how to sustain it. I think the students have really done that with this show.'
Another judge, Mark Baumann, visual director of Lane Crawford, says Hong Kong has many advantages in the fashion world.
As China gradually becomes the world's number one market for exports, Hong Kong will benefit because of its close proximity, Baumann says.