A dressing-down for C.Y. Leung's wife
Tanna Chong and Colleen Lee in Beijing
A steep learning curve lies ahead for Hong Kong's new first lady, judging by the sniping of fashion critics on her first official trip with husband Leung Chun-ying.
Former solicitor Regina Tong Ching-yee's fashion choices, including her dark glasses, drew criticism on her four-day visit to Beijing with the chief executive-elect this week. She may have to work harder to catch up with glamorous and elegant first ladies like France's Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Michelle Obama of the US.
Minutes before Leung received his official appointment as chief executive, from Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday, Leung had to gently nudge his wife aside when photographers wanted a picture of the two men.
Yet she is a quick learner.
After a group picture with Wen and other state leaders - including Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and state councillor Liu Yandong - Tong took the initiativein politely shaking hands with each official.
But fashion expert William Tang Tat-chi cast doubt on Tong's fashion choices after the meeting.
Tang said the burgundy mid-length dress and black, Chinese-style middle-sleeve jacket she wore to the meeting at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound failed to 'match the occasion'.
'The colours of the suits were too earthy. They looked like the clothes worn by rural people,' fashion designer Tang said. 'It was a very Chinese suit, but it did not really fit the occasion. We do not expect a fashion icon but a decent and tidy style.'
The criticism did not end with Tong's clothing sense. She also drew fire for her light-adjusting glasses, which had not yet become transparent by the time she met Wen, making it look like she was wearing sunglasses to meet a state leader.
'Wearing colour-changing glasses for such an official occasion is definitely impolite,' Tang said. 'Even if she wanted to wear coloured lenses, she should have chosen a pair with a lighter colour. It is never acceptable unless her eyes are suffering from an illness.'
On Monday, Tong wore a black medium-length dress with a sap-green, long jacket for the flight to Beijing. On the flight returning home yesterday morning, she wore a grey jacket patterned with small black dots and black trousers.
In her free time on Tuesday before meeting Premier Wen, Tong visited a museum, a source said, without specifying which one.