Stylist Grace Lam gives Hong Kong’s less fortunate makeovers and a confidence boost in online video series
Fashion director and former editor at Vogue China talks about her new video project, offers style tips, and explains what she thinks the fashion industry today is getting right and wrong
In her new video series Grace Lam Style, fashion director and stylist Grace Lam aims to boost the confidence and professional development of underprivileged Hongkongers through a series of makeovers and image transformations. She tells us what gave her the idea and some of the challenges involved.
Why did you want to start a web series on fashion targeting those usually ignored by most fashion brands?
I think we live in a very unhealthy era where a lot of people are overly obsessed with themselves. I want to give back to the Hong Kong community through helping less fortunate people gain more confidence by revamping their image. These people might be elderly or disabled, young students or domestic helpers.
This show is about feeling good and rediscovering yourself, but at the same time learning a new skill that helps you prepare for special events like job interviews, graduation ceremonies or even family reunions. Many people have no idea what to wear or even where to start.
Tell us about filming the first episode and who you were assisting. What were the challenges and surprises?
In my first episode I collaborated with a local NGO called Green Baby, which supports young single mothers. It took months to convince any of them to be filmed and photographed, as I think Hong Kong people are quite shy, so that was a challenge. The mother whose wardrobe I revamped had a particular way of dressing, so I had to encourage her to try new styles and think differently. To my surprise, she gave me creative freedom to transform her image.
How did the concept and team develop?
When I was a fashion editor at Vogue China years ago, I had an idea to do a “fashion TV show” but I didn’t know how. I was too afraid to start. Back then my idea was more about current and high fashion, but it evolved to be more about helping others. Now I’m in a different state of mind; I’m glad I found the courage to do this project. I want to encourage more people to look out for each other and use my fashion knowledge to help others who are less fortunate.
I contacted renowned New York hairstylist Mark Bustos (who gives free haircuts to the homeless) via Instagram and we became friends. He suggested that we collaborate in Hong Kong, so we did. My photographer husband Jason and I work together a lot on shoots, so it naturally fell into place. There’s so much involved in producing each episode and it is just the two of us, so I need to plan well in advance. The show is on my YouTube channel, Instagram and Weibo.
In your opinion, what is the fashion industry today getting right? And what is it getting wrong?
Right: the fashion industry is very open-minded when it comes to creativity. It encourages people to be daring, which is a great thing.
Wrong: in the rush to secure “the next big thing”, the fashion industry is falling into the trap of promoting so many people who don’t have the true talent, endurance or experience to push fashion into the sort of exciting directions that make icons, or iconic fashion moments.
What tips can you give on projecting professionalism and confidence?
Always be open-minded about yourself. I don’t think people need to follow current fashion trends too closely, as those trends might not suit everyone. Always try on clothes, whether it is your usual style or not, as you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Looking back, what are some of your career highlights?
Definitely the birth of the Grace Lam Style show, plus styling famous talents I admire such as actress/singer Maggie Cheung, [singer] Chris Li Yuchun, film director John Woo, singer Lana Del Rey, model Kate Moss and the late Zaha Hadid. And the most memorable encounter I had was meeting Formula One champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton – I’m a huge F1 fan.