Socialite Helen Ma claims to live in sweats and flip-flops. But one doesn't make the cut for best-dressed lists with something so casual and common.
You almost believe her, but then she opens her two floor-to-ceiling shoe cupboards, and you see nothing but an enviable line-up of designer high heels. Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Charlotte Olympia, Yves Saint Laurent - a virtual roll call of all the footwear labels at a luxury department store. Apart from a small collection of sneakers (even these are of the designer, fashion-forward kind) and a row of flats, there is nothing that says 'I'm simple like that' in her massive shoe collection.
You give her the benefit of the doubt, even if she appears in front of you in black skintight leather pants paired with a leather jacket and serious I-am-woman-warrior heels from Lara Bohinc. The only casual piece of clothing she is wearing is a T-shirt from Affliction Clothing, but even then it's probably in the several-hundred-dollar range.
When she finally opens her main wardrobe, a second bedroom-turned-clothing sanctuary, there are still no traces of the casual girl she described. What you see are a black leather trench coat with military influence from Burberry Prorsum, a leather motorcycle jacket from Celine and several shearling coats. Also, a leopard-print dress from Yves Saint Laurent, several pieces from Balenciaga, a John Galliano bias-cut gown, jewel-toned frocks from Lanvin, black numbers from Givenchy and those Balmain blazers with the exaggerated shoulders.
'I like to glam it up at night. My style is contemporary, mixed with a dose of classic. I can't live without leather.'
Her favourite colour is grey. 'I never get bored of wearing it, and it can be paired with anything.'
Ma has several bags from Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. Her all-time favourite, though, is the Hermes Birkin. 'Maybe because I am getting older and I want pieces that are more classic,' Ma says, adding that her ultimate style icon is Kate Moss.
'But really, I am just casual and easy,' she says. 'I don't prepare what I wear in the morning. I really spend most of the time in sweats.'