With more than 240 cocktail parties, galas and charity fundraisers covered by Hong Kong Tatler over the past year, our society editors highlight 10 event trends that have marked 2017
1 Trilingual auctions boost fundraising potential
When it comes to charity auctions, it’s important that everyone hear—and understand—the auctioneer. Since the crowds at Hong Kong events are becoming more diverse, it has become a trend to hear English, Cantonese and Mandarin spoken from the podium. Take the amfAR gala in March, for example; with more than a third of the guests coming from the mainland, it’s unlikely the auction would have reached its US$3.5 million total if Mandarin had not been used in the mix.
2 Goodie bags are out, thoughtful souvenirs are in
Gone are the days when one would leave a gala dinner with a bagful of shopping vouchers (which most guests never used). Organisers are turning to more thoughtful ways to leave guests with a token of thanks, such as the sweet treats given out at the Youth Diabetes Association gala and the Cancer Fund gala, and the beautiful Moiselle brooch received by each guest at the Academy Ball.
3 East-meets-west performances
Considering the diverse crowds at Hong Kong events, 2017 was all about pairing talent from across the seas. Landmark’s Boutique Boulevard had performances by Korean pop star Rain and US singer/songwriter Bebe Rexha, amfAR’s guests were treated to performances by South Korean rapper CL and English DJ Mark Ronson. The First Initiative Foundation gala featured performances by New Zealand singer Hayley Westenra and Chinese classical guitarist Yang Xuefei.
4 More creativity with dress code
Instead of the plain old “black tie” dress code on invitations, 2017 was a year of theme dressing. From the monochromatic look sought for the Hong Kong Ballet Ball to the “pink glamour” dress code listed on invitations for the Pink Ball, colour themes were all the rage. And there were interesting, less specific themes as well, such as “transatlantica” for the nautical Youth Diabetes Action gala and “surrealism” for the Hong Kong Cancer Fund Ball.
5 Artworks and rare wine were always among the auction lots
Often donated by private collectors, wine and art were always on offer at charity gala auctions. The Ambassadors Ball saw amazing artworks go under the hammer, including a piece by South Korea’s Do Ho Suh, whose work hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London. At the First Initiative Foundation gala, a bottle of 1996 Château Latour was among the rare wines to go under the hammer.
6 Sheer gowns and asymmetrical dresses led the way on the red carpet
If you could see undergarments through a dress a few years ago, it would have been considered a big fashion faux pas, but anything goes these days. Two figures on our Best Dressed list, Yolanda Choy-Tang and Jaime Ku, were spotted in asymmetrical Versace dresses at the Tatler Ball. Sheer gowns with strategically worn undergarments were also a trend on the red carpet, such as Eleanor Lam’s Christian Dior at the amfAR gala and Adrienne Hui’s Versace number at the Tatler Ball.
7 Wine-pairing dinners were all the rage
A house white or red is too basic for the sophisticated Hong Kong crowd. A banquet in 2017 was only considered complete when each course was paired with a specialty wine. At the First Initiative Foundation gala dinner, chairwoman Michelle Ong enlisted the help of master sommelier Yohann Jousselin, director of wine for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, to select five wines to complement the different courses of the meal.
8 Familiar faces as masters of ceremony
A celebrity MC used to be a necessity for a successful gala event. However, the 2017 trend was to have a familiar society face on stage running the show. For the Save the Children gala at the Grand Hyatt, Esther Ma, founder of PR company Prestique, acted as MC; marketing and communications guru Peter Cheung, CEO of Peter Cheung Asia, ran the programme on stage for the Academy Ball; and Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby’s Asia, had crowds in fits of laughter at the First Initiative Foundation gala.
9 Less is more when it comes to table decor
The trend in table decor was away from huge floral arrangements towards more creative options. The First Initiative Foundation had beautiful paper cut-outs created by local artist Stickyline as centrepieces, and Save the Children had gorgeous ones made from cotton, branches and candles. At the Tatler Ball, our tables featured simple flowers with reusable LED lights instead of the traditional towering floral arrangements.
10 Photo opportunities at events were a must
With the rise of social media, buzz from an event now travels quicker than a finger can double-tap an Instagram photo. Which is why providing a creative photo op is key to getting guests to promote events through their personal accounts. From glamorous movie-set photo booths at the Academy for Performing Arts Ball to a faux Hong Kong Tatler cover-shoot photo booth at our annual ball, there were plenty of chances at events this year to get that KOL shot for social media.