Leslie Cheung or Mirror’s Keung To? Anita Mui or Tina Leung? Hong Kong fashion icons in 1997 vs 2022
- Music and film stars were once the only names on Hong Kong’s list of fashion icons but in 2022 they’re also just as likely to be Instagram influencers
- Today, Keung To of boy band Mirror arguably has the most famous wardrobe, while influencer Tina Leung is known for her street style and captivating looks
Back in 1997, Hong Kong’s fashion icons were performers who dominated the music stage or big screen, like queens of Canto-pop Anita Mui Yim-fong and Faye Wong, or Wong Kar-wai’s long-time muse Maggie Cheung Man-yuk.
Whether in performance or daily life, these celebrities brought bold, avant-garde looks as well as simpler, trendy pieces to the forefront of Hong Kong fashion, popularising everything from androgynous suits to casual low-rise jeans.
Here we look at five fashion icons from 1997 and their counterparts in 2022.
Five fashion icons of 1997
Known as the beloved “daughter of Hong Kong”, Canto-pop diva Anita Mui will always be remembered for her dynamic vocals and onstage presence. The singer also became known for her avant-garde looks, which cemented her status as one of Hong Kong’s fashion icons in the 1990s.
Mui’s fashion constantly evolved to reflect the different stages of her career. Working closely with designer and friend Eddie Lau Pui-kei, she introduced androgyny to her repertoire by donning menswear-inspired pieces, including Yves Saint Laurent’s famous Le Smoking suit.
In Wong’s As Tears Go By (1988) and Days of Being Wild (1990), the actress was seen in flowy dresses and skirts, while in Irma Vep (1996) she dons a black, skin-tight, latex catsuit.
Outside her film roles, she embodied 1990s fashion with baby tees and low-rise jeans, and also dressed in youthful and carefree looks with an edgy streak, like leather jackets and Chelsea boots.
Singer and actress Faye Wong emerged in the early 1990s after she moved from mainland China to Hong Kong and started singing in Cantonese (she would later revert to her native Mandarin).
With the aid of long-time stylist Titi Kwan, she became known for wearing daring pieces, including a chandelier dress made from Swarovski’s crystal fabric, Jeremy Scott’s sole-less heels, and even a see-through dress paired with a black sweater crop top and knitted underwear.
Offstage, Wong adopted a boyish look for the film Chungking Express (1994), in which she was seen in striped tees and oval sunglasses, while in day-to-day life, she wore loose and flowy grunge outfits.
Well-known in both Hong Kong and Hollywood circles, actress Michelle Yeoh won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant in 1983, and went on to star in a number of Hong Kong action films, including Supercop (1992) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).
As Yeoh became known for her film roles, she also impressed on the red carpet. For the premiere of Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997 – her first major Hollywood film – she stunned in a metallic lace silver gown that embodied the glamour of her Bond girl character.
Since then she has amassed her own collection of iconic outfits and jewellery, including the emerald ring made famous in Crazy Rich Asians (2018).
One of Canto-pop’s biggest icons, Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing is revered by Hongkongers for his extensive acting and singing career. His father was a tailor, and Cheung studied textile management at university before going into show business. When he grew into prominence as a singer, he showed a flamboyant, daring vibe, challenging Hong Kong’s conservative-leaning status quo at the time.
For one of his concert looks in 1997 he wore a shimmering black suit and red sequinned heels, and he would go on to wear other androgynous pieces such as skirts and sheer tops. In 2000, fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier was invited to design Cheung’s concert looks, marking his first time designing for an Asian artist.
On-screen, Cheung was recognised for playing queer characters in Happy Together (1997) and Farewell My Concubine (1993), and eventually became something of an LGBT icon. After struggling with clinical depression he took his own life in 2003, but his legacy lives on.
Five fashion icons of 2022
Aside from captivating the public with his voice and dance moves, he’s also attracted eyes for his fashion. One brand that Keung is often photographed in is Burberry; he’s been seen in a number of its signature vintage check-print items, as well as its famous trench coat.
Keung’s wardrobe includes a range of casual suits and sporty-chic pieces from brands like Salvatore Ferragamo and Calvin Klein – you’ll find him pairing hoodies with suit jackets, cosying up in oversized sweaters, and layering denim jackets over T-shirts.
Currently based in New York, Tina Leung traces her fashion roots back to Hong Kong, where her career in the industry began. She set up her fashion blog Tina Loves in 2011 and today the stylist and influencer is a regular at fashion shows for brands like Chanel, Prada and Miu Miu.
Over the years, Leung also styled photoshoots and collaborated with luxury brands including Gucci and Bulgari for special projects. She’s become known for her street style and has been seen in a wide variety of captivating looks, including feathered shawls, sequinned gowns, chequered sweaters and neon dresses.
Independent singer-songwriter Serrini has carved her own niche in the Hong Kong music industry with her unique lyrics and tunes, which address everything from love and romance to current affairs.
The singer also embodies changing beauty standards in Hong Kong, which have become more inclusive of different body sizes over the years.
Tyson Yoshi is another independent artist who has emerged on the Hong Kong music scene in recent years. Known as a hip-hop artist, Yoshi sings and raps in Cantonese and English as well as Mandarin, given that his biggest fan base outside Hong Kong is in Taiwan.
One look at Yoshi and it’s clear that his style matches his career – he’s often seen wearing oversized shirts, casual hoodies and an array of silver rings. But the rapper also cleans up well: he was spotted wearing a black denim set from Louis Vuitton and wore two colourful suits for his recent I don’t smoke & i don’t drink music video.
While former actress Hilary Tsui may not be the loudest on Instagram, her numerous fashion endeavours point to her sense of style.
After marrying singer and actor Eason Chan and giving up acting, Tsui worked as her husband’s stylist for a time before fully diving into the fashion world, continuing her work as a stylist and adding designer to her list of duties.
Tsui’s style is embodied by her contemporary clothing brand Chance, which offers casual pieces that combine femininity and urban aesthetics. Several pieces in the line are evidently inspired by Hong Kong, including a midi skirt with a multicoloured goldfish print and a T-shirt with a red Chinese folding fan.
Meanwhile, Tsui’s fashion, activewear and sneaker shop Her houses a curation of bold, distinct pieces that will delight streetwear fans.