HONG Kong fashion hit the born again trail yesterday in a burst of New Age enthusiasm, but basic clothes sense took the lead as Fashion Week '94 swung into action at the Convention and Exhibition Centre. Taking their lead from New York and Paris, where spiritualism has joined ecology as a potent buzz word, several members of the Hong Kong Fashion Designers' Association (HKDFA) tried their hand at garments fit for the pure of mind. Yet while the heavily-hyped HKDFA show proved the day's biggest attraction, its often stagey offerings proved more of a challenge to Cats, playing across the road at the Lyric Theatre, than to the no-nonsense firms showing earlier in the day. It was strictly business at the Knitwear Show - always a favourite with buyers and press - whose nine participants displayed strong workmanship and a firm grasp of trends for the coming seasons. Inching ahead of the rest was Co-Wear, whose delightful hand-knitted casual wear in natural fibres and colours embraced environmental concerns without sacrificing commercialism. Also winning attention were Pine Link's striped and checked tube dresses, Peninsula Knitters cashmere co-ordinates in warm earth tones, Fang Brothers' colourful layered tributes to the Orient and Wellpute Trading's pure wool tribal separates. Bright Generation provided evening glamour with a sparkling all-black collection. Earlier in the day, the first of the week's two Designers' Collection shows proved to be rewarding for five firms committed to promoting their key designers. Making the most of her opportunity was Fenix Originals' Rachel Wong with a boucle and velvet yarn range whose open-weave and fringed effects combined charm and sensuality. Also winning well-earned applause was Chinese Arts & Crafts' Eddie Lau whose viscose crepe co-ordinates in cream and black once again demonstrated this veteran's flair for Chinese-inspired fashion that has international appeal. For the rest, Trend Universe's Danielle Arnoux line provided a useful guide to Autumn-Winter '94/95 colours and silhouettes; Dilys Yiu (also for Fenix) had some success with her sheer coats and vests. For all the glitz, it was positively subdued compared with the startling array shown by first contender in the HKFDA conservation stakes, Flora Cheong-Leen. Rock met grunge head-on as Ms Cheong-Leen's models hit the runway in an alarming assortment of fabrics which dazzled, clung, billowed and often revealed much skin. It was left to Lulu Cheng and Benny Yeung to come down to earth - the one with a gentle, feminine range in silk and wool, the other with highly wearable deep red evening gowns featuring classic touches like ruching and strategic beading. No wonder the tai tais love Benny, even if they're not into recycling.