Carrie Lam

Carrie Lam’s fashion style comes with a purpose: to promote Hong Kong’s creative industries

The chief executive says she makes fashion decisions that she hopes will reflect well on the city’s fashion design industry

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 December, 2017, 2:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 December, 2017, 3:29pm

For Hong Kong’s first female leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, clothes might not make the woman but they can make the city.

As chief executive, Lam rarely bothers to dress up in her personal life and only makes a trip to the tailor for formal occasions when she could promote the fashion and creative industries in Hong Kong.

But when she is in the public eye, she said she takes extra care in picking an outfit that not only reflects well on her, but also on the city she represents.

“I am the first female chief executive of Hong Kong. My policy address also promises to promote the creative industry in Hong Kong. Fashion design is an important part of the creative industry that means the most to women,” Lam said in an interview with RTHK broadcast on Monday. “If I paid more attention to my appearance, people might think that the proficiency of design industry isn’t too bad in a city with such a chief executive.”

The fashion choices made by city’s prior chief executives – all men who had penchants for formal suits – were seldom discussed.

But Lam’s style has been a focal point since she began the fourth leader of the city this year. A video of her getting her hair styled and face made-up in a salon was posted on her official Facebook page on July 1, before she took the oath of office, wearing a much talked about couture qipao.

The traditional Chinese gown, in cherry blossom pink and paired with a white embroidered coat, was one of the three pieces created by local designers to Lam’s order since she took office, the chief executive said.

“The second one was an outfit in peacock blue for my trip to London – a city renown for its taste – in September. And the third one was for me to attend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Da Nang, which was design with some elements in Vietnamese style,” Lam said.

The public never saw the third dress in full because all attendees were required to wear a special jacket prepared by the conference.

Lam said she was “upset” that she had to make all of the fashion decisions for official and diplomatic occasions by herself.

“People thought I had a personal stylist by my side like the popular stars. Actually I don’t. I am all on my own. I have to get all the clothes matched and packed before heading to, for example, a three-day trip with eight public events scheduled,” Lam said.

In her maiden duty visit to Beijing from December 13 to 15, Lam was seen in at least two qipaos – one black and one with floral pattern – and three coats in official photos.

Besides her wardrobe, Lam also talked about her residence in the Government House in the interview.

She said she did not introduce any “personal style” into the official mansion of Hong Kong’s governors like her predecessors. Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, the second chief executive, built a carp pool and Leung Chun-ying, the third chief executive, planted flower and vegetable gardens.

Lam turned a tennis court in front of the house into an outdoor resting space, where people could take photos with the national and regional flags in the background when the house was open for public visits.

“I never think of myself as the hostess of the house. I am only a temporary tenant.”

Lam said the duties of the job gave her little time to focus on her personal life.

“Everyday I tell myself, ‘It will be better if I spend more time on thinking about good ideas and working instead of watching TV or shopping.’”