Hong Kong stylist on dressing KOLs, why interns need paying, and how city lacks a sense of style
- Chan Chi Lung works in London with high-profile fashion influencers such as Si Lin and trendy model and fashion blogger Siu Sinyu
- He talks about being inspired by his mother and aunt making their own clothes when he was growing up
You want to raise your profile and increase your followers on social media, you have clothes to promote and an image to maintain, you need publicity in magazines and you need it right now. Who do you turn to?
Well, it might be a good idea to contact up and coming Hong Kong stylist Chan Chi Lung, who works with high-profile fashion influencers such as Si Lin and is about to collaborate with fast-rising model and fashion blogger Siu Sinyu.
The Post caught up with Chan in a coffee shop near his home in Chalk Farm, near Camden Town in northwest London. He has his own distinctive style of dressing and on this particular evening the most striking aspects of his clothes are his amazing hand embroidered denim jacket and his hat – the kind that only certain people can pull off. On him it looked natural and perfect for his “look”.
It soon becomes clear that Chan is someone totally immersed in the world of fashion and creativity.
“I check every single brand constantly, including smaller labels, so I know what’s trending ahead of the curve,” he says.
His first love is for fabrics – his degree from the London College of Fashion is in fashion textiles. “In my mind fashion relies on textiles – these are the base. When I look at clothes I see the textures, colours, print and embroidery before I see the overall silhouette,” he said.
He has his own fashion label, And Studio London, alongside the brand Christopher Stone, co-founded with his business partner, Fung Tsz Wah.
It was after graduating and working for the luxury fashion label Christopher Kane in London that he decided he must strike out on his own and find a way to make a living in the intensely competitive fashion industry. He soon realised how hard it is to establish a brand and began to look at activities that could complement his business.
It was when a fashion PR friend invited him to attend London Fashion Week (LFW), introduced him to bloggers and asked him if he was interested in “styling” personalities that he saw a new pathway opening up. As a student or intern he had only ever experienced fashion week from behind the scenes, but here he saw close up the front row “fashionistas” caught in the lights of the flashbulbs. “I attended the inaugural LFW showing of Tommy Hilfiger. It was mind-blowing,” he recalls.
Today he works closely with Si Lin, who looked absolutely stunning at LFW.
Chan says his clients are pretty relaxed with the attention they get – after all, it is their job.
Photographers will snap them in the street and at major events they will face a barrage of cameras. Often, it isn’t possible in the melee to know who is taking the pictures. But it is easy to track the images online once they appear.
Si Lin has been in major publications such as Vogue and is frequently seen in high-fashion magazines across the globe in the people/society pages.
This is an important channel for her to promote the brands she is associated with, as well as her own image and the story she tells to her followers online.
“She is happy about her profile. I dress her for all the fashion weeks and personally make some of her clothes. She is pretty relaxed. You can’t push her – you can’t put her in clothes she doesn’t like. It’s really important that she feels comfortable – nothing too crazy,” says Chan.
Another client he works with is the Spanish model and female impersonator Fabio Ortega.
“I dress him in an androgynous look. He’s pretty down to earth – I just choose clothes that are right for him. He is really into trying something new. When he went to LFW I was in charge of his look with the aim of getting him into magazines. He needs to be trendy,” says Chan.
At our meeting Chan is wearing a denim jacket with amazing cross stitch embroidery on the back panel that was done by his aunt in Hong Kong, who is self-taught, gifted and extremely fast at embroidering.
Chan says that he grew up in a household where he was surrounded by creativity. His mother and his aunt were adept at making patterns and sewing their own clothes and embroidering.
“I was inspired by them – they would just randomly cut a pattern and sew a dress,” he recalls.
Asked about his view of the fashion industry, he has very clear views on what he would like to see change. “I think the industry should pay their interns. Often you see fresh, young talent handing over their portfolios to big brands which just take their ideas. It’s really bad,” he says.
“They develop their ideas but the young talent behind the concepts will never be mentioned or get any recognition. This is true of New York, London, Paris and Milan.”
And what about the fashion scene in Hong Kong?
“In Hong Kong you can see ‘way out’ people on TV but if you dress even slightly over-the-top on the street people look at you as though you are crazy. There is a lot of design talent coming out of Hong Kong but there is nothing on the street,” he says.
And finally – what is “in” right now?
“It’s all about layering and big shoulders going back to the ’80s, and also the cowboy look is ‘in’ with touches like fringing,” he says.