Poise and swelter in Pearl River Delta
In the past week, boutique labels have descended on Hong Kong for The Hub trade fair at AsiaWorld-Expo. The British contingent included Michael Whitby-Grubb from Penrose, which does wonderful prints on accessories for the modern dandy, Nick Ashley - avid biker and son of floral print legend Laura Ashley - and James Eden of Private White VC. These niche brands were united, if only for a few days - and that is not a bad thing.
Menswear with a nod to heritage made an impression on fashion folk in a city experiencing its own love affair with experimental menswear styles. Hong Kong resident Roger Ouk, a lawyer-turned-designer and founder of Thyvane, debuted his collection of men's neckwear titled Promise and Power - the result was a line of thin snakeskin ties in bright bold hues.
Johanna Ho, our lovable local designer du jour, also debuted her menswear label after years of focusing on women's fashion. Being best friends with Canto-pop star Eason Chan Yik-shun and his style maven wife Hilary Tsui Ho-ying no doubt brings a good deal of celebrity clout to this impressive outing, and participants at the fair noted that she was getting a lot of attention.
But it wasn't only this sector of the industry that people were talking about, as our main story on denim (above) shows.
I made a fleeting visit to an event in Guangzhou last Thursday that was worlds apart from the cool, collected buzz of The Hub. This was all about traditional machismo - fast cars and half-naked models. The La Perla fashion show and Lamborghini event at the W Hotel hosted a bemused set of Lamborghini VIPs who watched as toned models in swimwear slinked down a catwalk set up in the middle of the hotel's swimming pool.
With the sports car market in China booming, it was smart - although not unexpected - to collaborate with the lingerie label.
Women in China are also coming around to more daring Western lingerie trends and it's a potentially lucrative market for brands like la Perla - though I wish we saw more of its stylish lingerie at this show as I'm a long-time fan.
In a week of stark style contrasts across the Pearl River Delta, it's hats off to all involved. Kudos, especially those who, in the name of sartorial excellence, maintained impressive dressing in this climate, in a dandified suit with all the bells and whistles: pocket square, handmade brogues, baker-boy cap included.