I really need to channelmy inner fashion goddess”
of brightly coloured fabric with Chinese motifs. “Fashion, for me, is a great way to express my philosophy about life, as people are far more willing to experiment with a funky jacket than a neon sofa. But it’s always challenging to know what will be flattering on a body. I really need to channel my inner fashion goddess,” he says with a goodnatured laugh.
Although most of his collections focus on womenswear, late last year Young teamed up with Earthpulse chairman and martial arts expert Hing Chao to create Modo Boon, a clothing line inspired by Chinese martial arts culture. “Ten years ago I bought a pair of kung fu-style trousers from G.O.D. and I wore them every day until the seams came apart,” says Chao. “That’s the type of clothing we’re trying to create together—functional, comfortable, stylish and in sync with our heritage. Douglas is great to work with because he manages to inject humour into everything. I admire his boundless enthusiasm for traditional Hong Kong culture.”
As well as his newfound interest in fashion, Young has also been putting his creative talent to use in Hong Kong’s booming restaurant scene. He initially worked as a consultant for the cheekily named Cantonese eatery Ho Lee Fook and then decided to launch Sohofama, an organic Chinese restaurant located in the courtyard behind his PMQbased G.O.D. store. “I’ve applied the same concepts to food as I have to fashion and design,” says Young. “The Cantonese culinary tradition is really rich, but currently there’s a void as most of the local restaurants in Hong Kong are staid and lacking in innovation. So I decided to create an irreverent, modern environment with fun cocktails, live music and organic Cantonese cooking at the heart of it.”
Ironically, given Young’s fight to change our attitude towards local produce, certain people have questioned having to pay Western prices for traditional Cantonese dishes, but despite this debate, both venues have become roaring successes, and Young’s old friend and fellow restaurateur Alan Lo is one of his biggest fans.
“Sohofama is great,” Lo says. “It’s the perfect concept to go with G.o.d.—it’s modern and new, yet it embraces local agriculture and culture. Douglas’ celebration of Hong Kong culture isn’t ironic or cynical, but comes from a very authentic place and a genuine love for the city. He’s dedicated his life to helping define who we are and I applaud him for that.”
But even workaholics need a break from time to time. For Young, that involves travelling to France and indulging in his favourite activity: off-piste skiing. When he’s in Hong Kong, he gets his speed fix behind the wheel of one of his many vintage cars, which he takes for a spin around the city every Sunday with his driving club. These include a 1959 Alfa Romeo SZ Coupe, which he bought as a student in the UK, and a 1975 Rolls-royce Silver Wraith Saloon. “Driving and skiing are my two obsessions, which often surprises people as I’m such a creative soul,” says Young with a wry smile. “I guess what links them is the idea of being challenged, connected with nature, and using my hands and my legs to propel myself through the world. As you’ve probably realised, I’m quite a hands-on guy.”
When he’s not indulging his appetite for speed in his spare time, Young can either be found in his studio painting or sketching, or at home with his business and life partner, Benjamin Lau. “We need each other, as he brings me down to earth and I make him dream,” says Young. “I have to fulfil my creative urges and I’m not very good at budgets, and he’s the opposite. However, we both share a vision for the future of this city. We’re of a generation that’s going to see Hong Kong flower into this amazing cultural place, and I’m so excited to watch it happen.”
Jacket by Maison Margiela; T-shirt by G.O.D.