Vanity cases

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 April, 2012, 12:00am


Rosey Chan
Pianist / Creative Director

Classical musicians don't often venture past their genre's influence, let alone into the worlds of fashion and beauty - but Rosey Chan isn't your average Brahms and Beethoven performer.

As an international pianist and composer, Chan's creative director role at this month's Hong Kong Liberatum Festival will showcase her wide array of musical influences: among the hand-picked participants are Pharrell Williams, Marianne Faithfull and Khalil Fong.

But it's not just music that defines her; Chan is renowned for her fashion sense, listing such timeless celebrities as James Dean, Katherine Hepburn and Jean Seberg as her style icons.

That's more than apparent in her graceful but contemporary on-stage looks. 'I try to avoid current fashion, and like to buy fairly timeless clothes that can be combined and re-used forever,' she says. 'I work very closely with Boudicca; they understand the multi-dimensions of my work. Joseph Li is great for my music and art projects, and I love Salvatore Ferragamo, Prada and Alexander McQueen.'

There are also Chan's ever-present Jimmy Choo couture heels, which have become something of a signature look for the performer. 'Jimmy Choo has custom designed for me so many times,' she says. 'He once made me an exquisite pair at the last minute, literally dashing to the workshop as soon I realised I'd packed the wrong shoes for a Kuala Lumpur concert. You could still smell the freshly cut leather as he brought them to the door, just 30 minutes before I went on stage.'

Constantly jetting around the world for sold-out performances, the endless climate changes and airplane journeys would normally wreak havoc on one's beauty regime, but Chan has a simple and affordable solution. 'Heard this years ago; know this now,' she says. 'Drink lots of water - it's that simple.'

But she does rely on modern methods to treat her flowing tresses. 'I never travel without Tara Smith organic hair products. And I love its product motto: 'tested on film stars and not on animals!''

P. Ramakrishnan

Ethan Newton

The archetypal well-groomed gent has a clean, close shave - but for Ethan Newton of The Armoury, a fully-grown beard comes pretty close.

'Every man should grow a beard once in their life,' he says, citing the timeless appeal of facial hair: from King George V's full imperial to Johnny Depp's stubbly whiskers, natural is infinitely better than coerced.

But a daily routine is necessary to keep things in order - his starts with a strong scrub with soap from Santa Maria Novella of Florence, and then it's all down to simplicity. 'A sharp razor, a good brush and piping hot water,' he says. 'I don't bother with pre-shave oil, but rather use a badger brush to soften up my beard. My shaving soap is from Gentleman's Tonic, which has rich foam that can really be lathered on the skin for a smoother shave.'

This is quickly followed by a splash of after-shave - Blenheim Bouquet from Penhaligon's, with its citrusy notes lasting well through the day - and a final trim. 'A good pair of moustache scissors is essential - I bought mine in Isetan in Shinjuku many years ago and they're still serving me well,' he says. 'Likewise a natural comb; mine is from Abbeyhorn in Scotland.'

But clean-shaven or bearded, high quality cream or dimestore soap, none of it matters when dealing with a professional. 'There is something inherently masculine about going to a good barbiere and having a straight shave from time to time,' he says. 'My favourite is in Florence, just off the Ponte Vecchio. I love going in like a hobo and coming out as regally bearded as the statues in the city.'

More than anything, Newton says you have to enjoy the means of grooming, rather than just the end - if the act starts to become a chore, you're not doing it right.

'I'd never spend as much time in front of the bathroom mirror as my wife, but you should enjoy the process,' he says. 'Shaving should be as much a ritual in the morning as polishing your shoes or making your tea. If you use the best products, take your time and enjoy the process, staying well groomed is simple.'

Pavan Shamdasani

Taylor Tomasi Hill
Stylist / Artistic Director

Taylor Tomasi Hill is a woman deeply entrenched in the world of fashion. As the former style and accessories director at US Marie Claire, muse to Prabal Gurung and current artistic director of online retailer Moda Operandi, Hill is that rare breed - a style icon comfortable both in front of and behind the scenes.

With her model-like frame and gorgeous looks, even Hill's corner-store casual clothes are fawned over by her fans. But there's a secret to her style success: 'I never feel like an outfit is complete unless it's topped off with some bling,' says Hill. 'There's nothing like a stack of bracelets or a bold necklace to satisfy a look.'

Hill's beauty routine however is a little more understated. Born in the beauty queen-obsessed state of Texas, but an au natural New Yorker at heart, she's torn in the make-up stakes.

'For me, one bold colour is more than enough,' she says. 'I have on either my NARS neon-orange lipstick for a really spunky look, or my Bobbi Brown Brownie Pink, a dusty rose, that I wear daily. I also alternate between a lipstick and a pink blush from MAC, which is my go-to for livening up my whole face.' In addition to those, Hill uses CeraVe's cleansers, Cle de Peau's Beaute Concealer ('it's my everything!') and most importantly, EltaMD's SPF 40 moisturiser.

'The most important thing to me is to always wear sunscreen,' she says. 'You wouldn't know it by looking at me, but I can tan pretty easily - I'm like a baked potato in the sun. It's really important to protect fair skin though, because no one wants early wrinkles.'

Indeed, men might age gracefully, but Hill is a major advocate for women protecting their skin - at any cost. 'Consult a professional,' she says. 'I see a dermatologist every few months for a peel, because I like to shed as much as possible. It's one of the best things I do for myself.'

Shedding is essential, both of skin and of cosmetic accoutrements - because unlike her flashy fashion advice, there's just one beauty tip she'd like you to keep in mind. 'Many women think that more is more,' she says. 'Simplicity is sometimes underrated in beauty, but natural can be great.'

Pavan Shamdasani

Carl Ng

Carl Ng might not be the billboard-friendly pretty boy he once was, the actor settling into roles that play up his rugged looks - but the ageing gracefully embrace wasn't premeditated. It's all a matter of Ng not taking things so seriously.

'It doesn't matter how good or stylish you are if you can't relax and accept a few flaws,' says Ng. 'Makeup, a stylish wardrobe and skincare products can only take you so far, but yoga is a great way of maintaining the mind and body. Stress will eventually manifest itself physically on your body and face, so fix the inside and you don't need to disguise the outside.'

Ng is passionate about yoga and practices it almost obsessively, but that doesn't mean he neglects his looks - especially in a place like Hong Kong. The city's 'cauldron of pollution' as he calls it, demands that Ng implements a strong and sturdy grooming regime.

'I don't mind the few wrinkles that have crept up on me, but dried-out skin is never nice to touch,' he says. 'Clinique products for men are great - it has a good PH neutral facial cleanser and matching toner, followed by a deep surge moisturiser for eyes and face that's a must. And Kiehl's hair products, because they make my hair look natural.'

An easy and effortless way of life goes beyond beauty products, trickling down into his choice of style. 'I'm not one to put too much thought into my wardrobe or how I look on a particular day - style should be effortless, something that comes without thought,' says Ng. 'It's a very personal decision; my style is comfortable and classic - simple, clean lines and basic colours, things that can be worn regardless of what year it is and what people are wearing around you. Comfort is important to me; standing out isn't.'

In that regard, his key items are traditional but high quality: a lived-in pair of selvage denim jeans, simple shirts with good stitching, fine cotton or handspun cashmere scarves, and lots of bespoke items from smaller brands.

'I'm somewhat jaded by what luxury brands deem as good design,' says Ng. 'The recent growth of individual boutique fashion is more interesting. People are tired of being corralled into certain looks and are trying to make their own choices against the masses. It brings back individualism and personality.'

P. Ramakrishnan