Carrie Lam

Revealed: the subtle meaning behind Carrie Lam’s outfit at swearing-in as Hong Kong leader

Designer Barney Cheng says the four layers of fabric symbolise the multicultural city and chief executive’s desire to serve all sectors

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2017, 8:33am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2017, 10:40am

While Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was being lauded for her striking cheongsam during her inauguration on Saturday, few will have been aware of the deeper meaning and blessing it conveyed.

Designer Barney Cheng Siu-leung said the dusty pink outfit and long white coat, made of four layers of different fabric including lace and chiffon, signified multicultural Hong Kong and Lam’s desire to accommodate the interests of all sectors in the city.

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“The pearl button on the mandarin collar symbolises Hong Kong as it is known as the pearl of the orient. With a mix and match of different soft layers forming a harmonious picture, I hope to convey a message that different classes can live in harmony with each other,” he told the Post on Monday.

After the outfit won admiring glances as she was sworn in as chief executive, Lam revealed how much she loved traditional Chinese dresses on her official Facebook page the next day, with photos showing her in numerous outfits during the visit by President Xi Jinping.

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She explained that the pink cheongsam was the only new, tailor-made dress she had worn over the three days and that she had bought the others long ago.

I wanted to make her look elegant and resplendent with extra flair, different from her past style
Barney Cheng Siu-leung, dress designer

In a media briefing on Monday, Lam revealed a number of designers had approached her, but in the end it was Cheng who wooed her with his subtle but refreshing design.

She said she took up his offer after considering how she could promote Hong Kong through her way of dressing. But Lam stressed that she had to pay for the cheongsam.

“As Hong Kong’s first female chief executive who represents Hong Kong, I wanted to make her look elegant and resplendent with extra flair, different from her past style,” Cheng said, while declining to reveal his fee.

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After discussing it with Lam he opted for a simple design without too many details such as bead embroidery. The subtle shade of dusty pink was chosen to give her a soft touch without being too flashy, while the long white coat enabled her to cut a dapper figure.

The renowned Hong Kong-born fashion designer offered his services after Lam won the chief executive election in late March. One month ago they finally met and she very quickly approved his design.

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However, her first question to Cheng was not about how he could make her look good.

“She asked: how do we make fashion a more viable business for young people? I was like dumbfounded as I never expected a question like this. Later on of course I had many insights to share with her,” he chuckled.