Hong Kong students celebrate Asian pride with charity fashion show

Nicole Tan
  • The Azaleas Charity Fashion Exhibition will be held at D2 Place on Friday, with proceeds going to Redress and Stop AAPI Hate
  • Students from South Island School and Hong Kong International School are among the designers, models and organisers of the event
Nicole Tan |

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The name of the collection, Jadeite, reflects the jade colour used in its designs. Photo: Jason Mak

After spending countless hours sewing and stitching for three weeks, South Island School students Gigi Genivia So and Alice Saito will finally see their fashion collection on the runway for the first time.

The Azaleas Charity Fashion Exhibition, organised by three students from Hong Kong International School, will take place on Friday at D2 Place One mall in Lai Chi Kok.

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The show, run completely by students, is named after the azalea flower, which is native to East Asia and commonly found in Hong Kong. The organisers started planning the event in January this year with the aim of using the show to remind the community of the power and pride of East Asian culture.

It showcases a wide variety of fashion pieces, ranging from street wear to wedding gowns.

A total of 42 students, including four designers and 31 models, helped put the show together, including Gigi Genivia So, 17, and Alice Saito, 16.

The designs of the Guillotine collection were just one of the many artistic lines at the show. Photo: Gigi Genivia So

“We incorporate Asian silhouettes and designs with Western patterns,” Alice said of her Jadeite collection. “Jadeite focuses on the concept of orientalism as well as deconstruction and reconstruction.”

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The name Jadeite originates from the emerald-jade green fabric the collection centres around. It also emphasises the importance of sustainability, with the designers sourcing thrifted fabrics and recycled clothing.

Pieces from the Jadeite collection. Photo: Gigi Genivia So

Alice and Gigi worked on this collection together, after taking a textiles class together at school.

“Our course was very westernised and lacked Asian representation,” Gigi said. “We went into this project not knowing where to go because we didn’t know a lot about East Asian culture, but the research we did helped us get more in touch with our heritage.”

Gigi has also designed another collection called Guillotine, which is her fresh take on chinoiserie. Popularised in the 18th century, chinoiserie is the European interpretation and imitation of art from China and other East Asian countries.

“The collection features pastels and pretty colors,” Gigi said. “Guillotine makes you expect something dark, and I think there’s an interesting juxtaposition there.”

(L-R) Students Mark Li, Gigi Genivia So, Brandon Chang, Justin Au and Alice Saito all helped organise the event. Photo: Rosamond ChungBrandon Yi-ming Chang, a Hong Kong International School student and one of the three key organisers of the show, wanted to use the event to explore his roots.

Brandon’s line, Kiss of the Rabbit God, is named after a short film by Andrew Thomas Huang, a Chinese-American visual artist and film director. The designs feature aspects of Chinese culture that are more hidden, such as ancient mythology and opera.

A piece from the Kiss of the Rabbit God collection. Photo: Henry Lai

“I want to re-imagine Chinese culture from a different light, framing traditional silhouettes in a modern sense,” the 18-year-old said.

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“Something our team prides ourselves on is that all our designs are made by us … We tried to make the clothes as beautiful as possible to match our design to reality.”

Justin Au Wing-chun, 18, and Mark Thomas Li Linxuan, 17, were the two other key organisers of the show from Hong Kong International School.

“We all come from an Asian background but go to a western school with a westernised atmosphere,” Justin explained. “We’re taking this show as an opportunity to explore the roots of our Asian heritage while expressing ourselves.”

The Azaleas Charity Fashion Exhibition will be held at D2 Place One on July 23. All proceeds will be donated to the Stop Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Hate organisation and Redress.

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