I saw your piece about affordable bags. Maybe you can help me. I have an obsession with those Alaïa carryalls with cut-out patterns. The one I love costs HK$21,250 (US$2,700). I will never be able to afford that! Where can I get the look for less, as they say.
Cut It Out, Happy Valley

The Dictator rules: Wow, you’ve got the lingo down. Not really. Your search would be helped by the words “perfor­ated” and “lasercut”. There are lots of bags with holes in them. There is no substitute for the artistry and workmanship of Alaïa. With that in mind, you could indulge for less with one of the French house’s micro cross­body bags in geometric lasercut leather (HK$7,200; Harvey Nichols, Joyce, and Lane Crawford).

Should you have the funds, other luxury brands doing beautiful perforated bags include Chanel, Dior, and Burberry. Sophia Webster brings her pretty butterfly motif to lasercut Liara totes (HK$5,200) while Sonia Rykiel’s Le Baltard collec­tion is made using an innovative laser-cutting technique that makes the calfskin mimic old school net shopping bags (HK$4,500 to HK$5,800). Barcelona-based Hereu’s Colmado cut-out leather bags were inspired by plastic shopping baskets and come with optional straps (HK$4,870).

You may know local favourite, Mischa, for its patterned bags, but it also makes a Monogram series that includes totes featuring a laser­cut of the Mischa hexagon motif on double-faced leather with contrasting colours (HK$2,344). There are many cheap, non-leather iterations. The Covent Garden tote bag at Anthropologie, for example, comes in black, ivory, rose pink, slate blue or moss green polyurethane and has a series of tiny diamond shapes punched into it and a nylon lining (HK$689).


I’m hoping you can find something crazy specific for me. I want a pair of jeans in the style of those double-side-buttoned sailor pants, but I also want them to be skinny, not wide. Am I going crazy or is there a jeans brand actually making them?
Buttoned Up, Kotewall Road

The Dictator: Oh, you fashion visionary! Actually, a wide leg would be much more au courant. Let me explain what happened. One: you saw a picture of said jeans. Two: you liked them. Three: your delusional brain made the leap to thinking you invented them.

Maybe you saw J. Brand’s Natasha, its high-rise, super-skinny-cut with buttons up the fly and on the hips. It comes in various hues of denim, as well as velvet and even leather (HK$1,786 to HK$9,384). Rather than a trend, sailor pants tend to float in and out of fashion. Similarly, Rag & Bone has its sailor style, called the Penton, currently available in black lamb leather with a buttoned bib front and back lacing details (HK$11,000).

Balmain has nautical and biker references on its stretch-cotton khaki trousers, with double rows of gold-embossed buttons, ribbed details at the knees and zips at the ankles (HK$11,600). At the affordable end of the spectrum, Danish brand 2ndDay has cropped sailor jeans in dark indigo with a single silver-tone button at the top of the fly and in rows of three on each hip (HK$587; www.asos.com). Ann Taylor has the Sailor Skinny Crop Jean (now on sale for HK$234; ww.anntaylor.com) in white stretch denim, with hip buttons in a copper-coloured metal and a hidden front zip under a hook-and-bar closure. Come on, don’t let your preju­dices stop you.