Masako Kumakura has closets on two continents. Two are in Paris: one in her home is full of fabulous finds from her many years in the fashion industry. The other is a storage space where she keeps even more dresses, most of them vintage. The latest addition is here in Hong Kong. It may be modest in terms of square footage compared to those in Paris, but it is still full of treasures.
Kumakura moved to Hong Kong less than a year ago to open the Asia headquarters of Karla Otto's PR agency. Before taking on the role of managing director for Karla Otto Asia, Kumakura held several positions in the fashion industry. One of her first was as assistant to designer Claude Montana in the early 1980s. This led to a job at French Vogue. She later worked as the global PR for Boucheron and most recently for Alexander McQueen. During her tenure at Alexander McQueen, Kumakura oversaw two major events: the Alexander McQueen exhibition at The Met and last April's royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Soon after arriving in Hong Kong Kumakura received a scarlet pony hair coat from the Alexander McQueen autumn 2012 collection, with a handwritten note from Sarah Burton, who took over the label after the death of its founder.
'It's so gorgeous, no?' says Kumakura, showing off the coat, which hangs alongside her colourful dresses including a '60s Courreges powder blue A-line dress in exquisite condition. 'I have a lot of vintage. I have been collecting for years, especially pieces from the '60s. I also have several pieces from my grandmother and mother.'
Kumakura travels to Paris regularly and updates her Hong Kong wardrobe with pieces from her Parisian wardrobes. 'My style is simple. I like to update my look every season. At the start of each season, I clean and organise what I am going to wear and the rest is archived,' she says. This spring, she is wearing a lot of easy dresses in punchy colours from Yves Saint Laurent and Celine.
She loves shoes, too, but she's not the hoarding kind. She buys from brands such as Celine, Yves Saint Laurent and Sergio Rossi, and after the season is over, she gives them to her assistants. 'I like to update. I don't like to keep shoes.'
Kumakura has a basic rule. 'I don't buy a lot, but when I do I go for pieces that I absolutely love.'