On style, she rules

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 October, 2011, 12:00am


I am on a quest for the canvas, faux, dare-I-say 'Birkin' bag. Not the colorful printed canvas bags sold by Taiwanese company Banane Taipei (Lane Crawford) but a different, more subtle version. It looks like the details of the bag have been air-brushed on to the canvas, making it look much more real- a sort of a trompe l'oeil effect. I saw a woman sporting one at Ap Lei Chau a few weeks ago but couldn't get my Sift cupcake out of my mouth long enough to get any information from her. I saw another version from a Korean company called Hallo Win but this is not the one I want either. I've searched high and low but to no avail. Please help. Better go underground as I hear Hermes is on a rampage...

Coming Up Trompes, Secret Location

The Dictator rules: On principle, I don't do fakes. It's wrong. However, the entire mass fashion industry is predicated on 'inspired by' designs. A cheap fabric bag with a picture on it that is reminiscent of a luxury item seems hardly objectionable unless it claims to be from a particular brand and it is not. The real deal is worthy of worship for its beauty, craftsmanship and history, and also costs more than HK$50,000 at the entry level. That's not the case here. I've seen exactly what you're looking for around the markets I'm always going on about. The widest selection and best prices I found were at Fa Yuen Street, Prince Edward. These included plain colours such as orange, as well as exotic skin prints of ostrich, crocodile and snake. Beware: quality does vary from shop to shop, so don't just throw your money down as soon as you see one that just sorts of fits the bill. I'd recommend the street stall near 205 Fa Yuen Street, where they're going for HK$179, alongside other pretty 'inspired by' bags. Funnily enough, I've seen the same bags being sold for HK$490 in those little boutiques in Wan Chai. That's significantly more, though still a pittance when you think about it. I suppose you need to weigh the price of your time and patience against the HK$311 difference. Ah, and, yes, I have heard they are even more affordable in Shenzhen.

I just read that violet glass is really important to block the light rays that make beauty products go bad. My only question is where can I buy some?

Purple Haze, Shek O

The Dictator: Silly as your question is (need I point out that most cosmetics are not sold in glass or transparent containers any more?), I did check with a number of suppliers, including the new age, holistic, crystal-selling type shops. I failed to find a retailer that sells them in Hong Kong. However, I did track down some excellent sources online. Those unfamiliar with the concept might like to know that violet glass, also known as vitality glass, can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians. The civilisation, known as early users of fragrances and beauty aids, kept its precious elixirs in violet glass or gold containers. Fast forward to modern times, when Swiss scientists have developed a range of anti-UVA ray bottles. The basic idea is that, unlike green or brown, violet glass storage containers don't allow the visible spectrum to penetrate, and that light makes your beauty products decompose faster. Those nutty yet hopeful alchemists in the Middle Ages used something similar. The brand most commonly associated with this innovation is Miron (www.miron-glas.com). The simplest way to get your hands on its special bottles and containers is to shop through Amazon. com (about HK$140 and up). See more at www.vitalityglassware.com.