I HAVE to admit I am a novice when it comes to this style of sales push so perhaps I am being a little harsh. But I don't think so. In the 21/2 years I have spent in Hongkong I always have thought clothes were overpriced, for their quality, and that merchants were too greedy. The shoppers must be pretty silly too, I decided, if they are prepared to pay for ready-to-wear clothes that are not always made in the country that their label suggests. So it was with this jaundiced perspective in place that I attended my first fashion showing of a Paris-based ready-to-wear collection for the summer. And an unseemly experience it was indeed. Lots of over made-up women, a very disappointing fashion show (the models had scuffed shoes and the music was the worst kind of tinny recording) and some graceless behaviour from the non-spending observers - that is, the trade press and public relations retinue. The invitation to this event had been extended by one of the two promotion companies charged with the Nina Ricci account in Hongkong. It was to be a tea-party showing, she explained, that would include the spring summer ready-to-wear collection and the new cosmetics range Le Teint Ricci at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. I automatically expected, in such a glamorous hotel, that it would be a swish event. A nice fashion story. At this point, I must set the record straight. First, I arrived late - work commitments - although that has nothing to do with the points I would like to make. Secondly, I am no fashion writer nor am I a ball of style myself. I think I fall into the category: ''I don't know much about fashion but I know what I like.'' Thirdly, I feel better about shopping in the Wan Chai sample shops or Fa Yuen Street, Kowloon, than in the Landmark or Pacific Place. With the knowledge provided above and despite the fact that 10 per cent of the proceeds of all sales from the showings - three in all - will go to the Hongkong Council of Early Childhood Education and Services (CECES), I think the tai tais present were done in by Tuesday's showing. In Hongkong, Nina Ricci's clothes are popular. Customers think they are timeless, elegant, feminine. Government policy secretaries Anson Chan and Elizabeth Wong buy them - at between $9,000 and $16,000 a pop - as do plenty of affluent professional women,members of the Thai Royal family and Flora Cheong-Leen who has a) her own fashion label Pavlova and b) just married barrister Alan Hoo. I know all this because Nina Ricci's sales director Joanna Che, who had on enough real jewellery to keep Mother Teresa in rice for a decade, told me. But back to the show, organised for the unusual time of 5pm, clearly for women with time on their hands and with children who are looked after by someone else, in the normal type of reception room. Individual tables were laid out with different products from the cosmetics range. The tables were set with finger food, petit fours and coffee with a centrepiece of a selection of the cosmetics range. The clients and their friends sat in groups of eight or 10 to watch models parade down a narrow centre aisle of the room. Ms Che told me that the women decide on the clothes at the showing and will go to the boutiques this weekend to make their purchases. The Chinese women looked like Ms Che, heaped high with jewellery of rock-like proportions and not touching a morsel of food. The Western clientele was much the same, just more talkative. All were riveted, it appeared, by the sight of several samples of the same style of suit, only different in colour or fabric. At the media table, the style of behaviour was less refined. Most of the writers sat silent, knowing they were participating in a very ordinary episode of Hongkong fashion marketing. But market forces dictated they say nothing. One of them thought the handbag range ''was cute''. The others agreed. The PR contingent (not large on Tuesday), however was different. One woman ate everything in sight, only shamed into saying ''I have not eaten a thing all day'' after she was forced to put her long arm right across the table to secure the last petit four. Another picked what she needed from the table display and pocketed the goods with no embarrassment at all. ''Could we have some more sandwiches,'' she said, gesturing generally around the table. Meanwhile, the show had come to an anti-climatic end - that is the music stopped and no more models had appeared, and the star, make-up artist Chen Boa Wen, popped up to give a demonstration. All the women watched this (he was good and very pleasant) and some of them even moved closer for the instruction in the hope they could be done next. When I left, with my sample bag specially put together with a colour transparency of a garment not shown in the parade, they were still lining up for a freebie. In retrospect, plenty of people might think that there is nothing wrong with an afternoon wasted like this. Why not sit around looking at dull clothes, with the same old people trying to extract thousands of dollars from your cheque account in such a style of marketing? They are right. But what about normal life? These women are not Bianca Jagger or Hillary Clinton. Is Hongkong society so vacuous that these women have time to go to a fashion show at 5pm, be subjected to an event marked only by its unimaginative ordinariness and then arrange more time to select these same clothes that also will be bought and worn by many of their friends? Why not just go straight to the shop, I say, and stop wasting time. The marketing people are not treating you as your current account suggests you should be and it is time we all revolted.