Meet the region's leading fashion designers Born in London in 1963, Amanda Loke Kwai-lin spent her first five years in Malaysia. Her family then returned to London. In 1987, she graduated from the Royal College of Art. For the next decade, she worked in Rome, Germany and Hong Kong with retail chain Esprit. Loke opened her first store, on the Greek island of Mykonos, in 1998, and launched her label Amandarling in 2002. She moved to Hong Kong a year later. Two months ago, she opened a boutique in Central. Loke plans to develop children's and home-furnishing lines and says she dreams of owning a three-storey shop in Central. She's now working on launching an online shop. Have you always wanted to be a designer? Yes, since I was 11. I did a lot of research to find out which colleges I'd have to go to and worked myself through an honours and a masters degree. One week after graduating I was working in Rome. How did you establish your label? We set up in London - my sister handles marketing, PR and sales from there. I was going back and forth from Germany to Hong Kong while I was working for Esprit. I finally decided to make Hong Kong my design and production base. The brand is gaining recognition faster than I expected. How is the company structured? It's still very small. We've been cautious to expand at a speed we can handle. Initially, it was just my sister and I. This year we've taken on staff, so I canconcentrate on designing again. It's been tough to take care of the business side as well as design development. We're a private company that's self-funded, which means any money we make is ploughed back into the company. I have two people in Britain who handle PR and sales. There's also a full-time staff member and a part-time financial director. I work with a freelance textile designer, who's based in Germany. I still oversee everything in the company, especially the financial side. What's the design philosophy? I want to offer a collection that's practical, commercial and affordable yet uncompromising in flair and design. I work with practical fabrics such as cotton and silk. I want women to feel comfortable in my clothes. We spend hours perfecting the fit. We cater to all ages and sizes. What inspires you? I love anything old - old movies, old houses and anything Asian. Audrey Hepburn is a favourite. That wedding dress she wore in Funny Face when she got married to Bing Crosby was positively dreamy. What does your current collection look like? Fresh and colourful. The collection was originally just beach and resort wear. Now, we offer city pieces. We have kaftans and sarongs in a beautiful peony print, everyday cotton knit twin-sets, flirtatious Bardot-inspired bikinis, soft suede fringe cowboy shirts, crochet hot pants and dresses, delicate white cotton gypsy skirts and cotton tops. What makes your business successful? I try to keep the collection wearable yet unique. I'm also conscious of price. We spend a lot of time on detail, and I listen to my customers. Where are your designs available? My boutique in Central. We're also in Europe and Australia, and now we're starting to expand in Asia. What's the reaction to your designs? I still get a huge kick from seeing people in my clothes. My close friend, Maggie Q [Maggie Quigley] is my clotheshorse. She looks stunning in everything - it's as if the collection is made for her. I get quite teary when I see her in one of my evening numbers. Another huge compliment was when I saw an Estee Lauder campaign featuring Carolyn Murphy wearing one of my dresses. What's your motto? Remember to breathe.