Wuppa Hong Kong Style! Five Steps to Becoming a Fashionista of the Far East
By Annie Cooper
Forget “Gangnam Style.” Korea is so Summer 2012. Hong Kong is where Asian pop culture is flourishing, and nowhere more so than its ultra-slick, futuristic, anime-inspired sense of fashion.
Hong Kong is truly a cosmopolitan city. While English and Mandarin are the official languages, Japanese and French are widely studied dialects. Hong Kong’s current status as a region of China, its long history as an English colony, and brief wartime occupation by Japan have all imbued it with a cuveé of styles from different corners of the world. Chic, slightly irreverent and fun, contemporary Hong Kong style has an eye on Paris, an ear towards London, and its toes dipped in the designer pools of Tokyo and Manhattan.
Hong Kong fashion magazines aren’t the only place to learn what’s trending. Locally produced TV shows such as KoldCast’s Mister French Taste show off the city’s tapestry of style and culture. Mr. French, who of course hails from le Gai Paris, is an etiquette coach well versed in European high society. He’s hired to teach Leon Wong, a very hip and unruly Hong Kong teenager, a thing or two about refinement.
You are watching Episode 1 of Mister French Taste:
The Job Interview
In Episode 3: “High Fashion,” Mr. French takes Leon shopping for a getup he thinks is avant-garde when they run into Lily, a gorgeous Chinese heiress. Both men of vastly different styles and sensibilities fall for Lily, a woman who all but climaxes at a nightclub screaming out high fashion labels a la Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. By then all bets are off as to whether Leon or Mr. French is truly in the know when it comes to turning heads in Hong Kong.
You’ll learn a thing or two about Hong Kong style watching Mister French Taste. Until then, follow these steps to make it your own.
Step 1: Submit to the Asymmetrical Haircut.
Spike up one part of it; slick back the other. Create a lopsided faux-hawk; perhaps you’ll partially conceal it with a beanie. The crucial point here is that one side of the ‘du should be significantly shorter than the other, and the side that is long should be carefully positioned over the face. Covering an eyeball is a plus. It’s not necessary to brush it all forward like a circa 2011 Bieber, but keep the option open.
Step 2: Pick Up Ear-Happy Accessories. Scratch Hello Kitty.
In Hong Kong, it’s getting harder to find the gratuitous displays of Hello Kitty that at one point were so ubiquitously linked to all things Asian. That doesn’t mean you’ll be left wanting for something fuzzy to snuggle with. Capes with ears, backpacks with ears, fluffy ears to put over your real ears – it’s all still in vogue. Hello Kitty may be vacationing in Korea, but Miffy will never leave you.
Step 3: Embrace Culture that is Vaguely American.
Oh, you thought ironic trucker hats were strictly relegated to Silverlake and Williamsburg? Hong Kong is on to you, hipsters. And they’re doing it even better, pairing them with shiny gold sneakers and equally blinding wristbands. Sporting the swag of random American colleges is also a huge hit, as is donning nonsensical collections of English words. Remember that waiter from The Simpsons Japan episode, the one whose sweater read “UCLA YANKEE COLA?” Like that.
Step 4: Mix and Match those Prints with Utter Abandon.
The thought of stripes, checkers, and plaid all dancing in the same ensemble usually elicits a cringe as visions of your uncle Max’s go-to Thanksgiving getup resurface. In Hong Kong, old uncle Max would be chased by the fashion-feeding paparazzi. Mixing prints in a playful but levelheaded manner is all the rage, whether it’s traditional polka dots that are patterned, or skulls and crossbones. The point is, these guys own it.
Step 5: Add Some Adorable When You’re Going for Scary.
When gambling with fantasy-based fashion, Hong Kong’s answer to playing the Steampunk card is raising it a “Fairy Kei.” Fairy Kei and her cousin “Pastel Goth” are quite happening, and you’d best be aware because they’re starting to infiltrate our own border. These genres defy acute description, but here goes: it’s if your Halloween costume were the product a sordid tryst between a vampire and Care Bear.
There are shops in Hong Kong dedicated solely to this sect of dress-up, with names like “Princess House” and “Evil Lady.” How these terms describe frosted pink tutus with bunny tails and kitten paw prints, we don’t know. Some things are better left unexplained.
Annie Cooper is a writer, armchair public transportation advocate, and aspiring taco critic. She has written columns and specialized training materials related to children with special needs, parenting issues, and early childhood development. Her writings are geared toward therapists, social workers, and teachers of young children with complex medical and developmental issues. She recently left her job in social services in an effort to become part of the problem, rather than the solution. Annie lives in Los Angeles, but she’s not from there – nobody’s from there.