HONG KONG

Fashion (Canada) - - Fashion Escapes - Pho­tog­ra­phy by Arkan Zakharov Creative di­rec­tion by Brit­tany Ec­cles Styling by El­iza Gross­man Text by Noreen Flana­gan

When I read that Paul Th­er­oux—a sea­soned travel writer—ad­mit­ted to be­ing flum­moxed by Hong Kong, I was re­lieved. He once re­marked that he felt lost in the city. “I don’t know how you’d write about it; it’s im­pen­e­tra­ble,” he told a South

China Morn­ing Post writer. “There’s so much of it…I don’t mean writ­ing about the restau­rants and ho­tels; I mean about the city it­self. You’d have to live here to do that.” I see his point. I spent a lit­tle over three days in this city of 7.4 mil­lion, and I’m grap­pling with how to cap­ture that ex­pe­ri­ence in a way that even re­motely re­flects what it’s like to be in­stantly ab­sorbed into this mes­mer­iz­ing, cos­mi­clike black hole. This is a city with a grav­i­ta­tional pull that lures you in with its neon-an­i­mated ar­chi­tec­ture, its un­ex­pected pock­ets of nat­u­ral beauty and its re­lent­less hum. Oh, and its food.

It’s just shy of noon, and I’m in the lineup to get into Lit­tle Bao, a street-food-in­spired resto on Staunton Street in SoHo, the en­ter­tain­ment area in Old Town Cen­tral. Since its owner— Cana­dian-born chef May Chow—was named Asia’s Best Fe­male Chef in 2017 by Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants, it has be­come a com­fort-food haven. I’m fam­ished, so the idea of div­ing into a fluffy white bao bun stuffed with Szechuan fried chicken has me sali­vat­ing. Ear­lier this morn­ing I climbed a gazil­lion steps in this charm­ingly gritty and hilly neigh­bour­hood, and when I stopped for a cold drink, I was of­fered sake with a live lit­tle fish as a chaser. (#nothanks #may­be­later #howabout­n­ever) Let’s just say that Chow’s bao meets burger, paired with her smoked eggplant salad and sin­fully good truf­fle fries, is more in my meal wheel­house. “This is one of my favourite spots,” says Glo­ria Yu, a Van­cou­ver-born de­signer/blog­ger who joins me for lunch. “In Hong Kong, eat­ing is a so­cial ex­pe­ri­ence; it’s how we con­nect with our friends and fam­ily. It’s also how we ex­press our cre­ativ­ity.” Yu, who stud­ied fash­ion at Par­sons The New School in New York and Cen­tral Saint Martins in Lon­don, is known for her ex­trav­a­gant head­pieces and head­bands. Her first col­lec­tion de­buted at Lane Craw­ford, one of the city’s toni­est de­part­ment stores, but last year she switched ca­reer tracks: She is now a fash­ion-sus­tain­abil­ity strate­gist and an ad­vo­cate for pre-owned cloth­ing. “It’s an un­com­fort­able idea for some Chi­nese to wear sec­ond-hand clothes,” she says. “Some peo­ple think that bad luck is passed on from the pre­vi­ous wearer. For me, I think ‘What about the good luck?’” Yu points out that she’s wear­ing a pre­owned/pre-loved DVF wrap dress she bought from the on­line con­sign­ment shop Hula. “It’s this amaz­ing shop that sells lux­ury clothes at dis­count prices,” she tells me. “I love beautiful clothes, but by wear­ing sec­ond-hand, I’m help­ing to re­duce waste and en­ergy and wa­ter con­sump­tion that would have oth­er­wise come from the pur­chase and pro­duc­tion of a new gar­ment.”

Yu also tries to sup­port lo­cal de­sign­ers, but in a town that is known more for its lux­ury shop­ping, the lo­cal tal­ent isn’t widely rec­og­nized or cel­e­brated. At the Po­lice Mar­ried Quar­ters (PMQ)—a multi-use space across from Lit­tle Bao—you can find in­de­pen­dent de­sign stu­dios and small shops and cafés. “We’re try­ing to nur­ture our own creative scene in Hong Kong,” ex­plains Yu. “We’ve al­ways been heav­ily in­flu­enced by in­ter­na­tional la­bels, but PMQ is a start. One of my favourite shops is Obellery. They cre­ate beautiful one-of-a-kind jew­ellery pieces. I also love the bar Sake Cen­tral.” I ask whether they also of­fer live fish chasers. “Oh I don’t think so!” Yu laughs. “At least, that’s not my cup of sake.”

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