A pocketful of dreams
A bevy of models will take the stage on Monday at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, wrapped in the latest garments created by Hong Kong's Hidy Ng, London's Craig Lawrence, Paris' Risto Bimbiloski and Shanghai's Qi Gang as part of the Fashion Extravaganza.
The most anticipated gala fashion show during Hong Kong Fashion Week is part of the annual World Boutique, which features the industry's creme de la creme and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Compared with last year's line-up, which included mainly Asian designers, this year's event features a more international crowd.
Both Lawrence and Bimbiloski were eager to make their marks on the Asian market with the help of the gala show organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
Lawrence, born in Ipswich, England, and schooled at Central Saint Martins in London, has created knitwear for Gareth Pugh for six seasons, earning a following for his contemporary, voluminous and shiny knits.
As it's his first time in town, Lawrence admits he knows little about the local scene. 'I've always had very good support from the press and retailers in Hong Kong. It's exciting to come so people can really see my clothes instead of just reading about them in magazines,' he says. 'To have a shop here at some point would be exciting. I'm not going to sleep for the whole week I'm here so I can explore the city.'
Bimbiloski, on the other hand, is no stranger to Hong Kong. The up-and-coming designer known for his urban silhouettes and nature-themed prints, has been travelling to the city since his early years in the business.
'I'm constantly inspired by big cities and their fast-paced lifestyles,' he says. 'I did a few prints featuring the Hong Kong skyline.'
Bimbiloski says that Hong Kong represents a good link between European fashion and the Chinese market.
While the European-based visitors take the stage hoping to make a name for themselves in an unfamiliar market far from home, award-winning Shanghai designer Qi Gang is happy just for the opportunity to exchange ideas.
'I appreciate Hong Kong's international taste for fashion. This is an opportunity for me to see where I fit in the global industry,' he says.
Home-grown designer Hidy Ng delivered her first grand fashion show during 1994 Hong Kong Fashion Week - an event that opened many doors for her. 'It changed my career path entirely,' she says.
Passionate about fashion since childhood, Ng worked in business management for a construction company before eventually pursuing her design dream.
'As much as I wanted to become a designer, I thought the job had very few prospects in Hong Kong back then,' she says.
But she found her day job far too dull and unfulfilling and enrolled in evening classes in design. By 1992 she had landed a job at a major knitwear company. Thanks to this first-hand training, Ng was able to learn every aspect of the business.
At Fashion Week's Hong Kong New Fashion Collection Award show in 2002, Ng won awards for Creativity and Overall Winner. From there, she got a chance to go to New York Fashion Week and created her own label the following year.
'Back then, I had no experience in how to present myself at New York Fashion Week, so I just knocked on the doors of all the showrooms I liked,' she says.
It was Showroom Seven that first launched her collection to global buyers. Her line was taken by Harvey Nichols and Curve boutique in Beverly Hills.
'I wouldn't have got the chance if it weren't for Hong Kong Fashion Week,' she says.
For this year's event, Ng has prepared a collection created for a young woman she has created in her head.
'This collection uses a lot of black and white, lace and sequins. I imagine the girl wearing the collection on a getaway in Paris,' she says. 'She's got a curated wardrobe, enough for her to go to a gala opera in the evening, casual coffee in the alleyways and feminine outfits for her to wander the city.'
Lawrence's spring-summer collection employs earthy, creamy colours mixed with rose gold and pastel shades. 'I get inspired by feelings. I need to be in contact with something: to see it, feel it and touch it,' he says. 'I love knitwear mainly because I'm a bit of control freak. I don't like to be given fabrics to work with. But with knits, I can choose the yarn and make my own. I hope the audience will appreciate the technique and fabric combination.'
Qi will showcase his signature glamorous and opulent style appreciated by mainland celebrity fans, such as actresses Fan Bingbing and Gao Yuanyuan.
Bimbiloski aims to wow the audience at Monday's gala with his collection of nature-inspired looks. 'I love observing natural phenomena, where you can find both beauty and danger,' he says. 'I design for women who know how to appreciate precious details, and the stories behind them.'
With more than 1,900 exhibitors from 25 countries taking part this year, the designers are relishing the chance to gain of exposure at one of Asia's biggest trade shows.
'It's a really good launch pad for my brand with a big audience of press, buyers and people who can see my work, and see it in a different way,' says Lawrence.