Fashion Conscience: Vipop founder Lenia Pérez radiates sustainability vibes while joyfully revealing her second pregnancy

Lenia Pérez is one of the best-dressed women in the city, in part because she’s so willing to try everything. “I’ve prepared a total of 19 outfits for us to play around with, but I’m not sure if some of them still fit me,” laughs the Latin American fashion entrepreneur, rubbing her four-month baby bump with just a slight touch of embarrassment.

It’s an unconventional pregnancy announcement – and a surprising moment of awkwardness for someone who photographs so well and telegraphs such confidence. Whether she’s going to the gym or the hottest parties, her style is obsessively chronicled.

Embarrassment, though, is different from regret. “I’m never afraid to try anything,” affirms Pérez, who is thrilled to be expecting her second child with husband Ziad Korban. “I think that just goes to show that there’s a moving evolution in my style. It just keeps growing” – like her baby bump – “which is kind of how I want to be in all areas of life.”

Black Flora Deep V Maxi Dress by Daniella Batlle Earrings by Vipop

It takes a certain sort of boldness and a certain level of shimmering magnitude to establish your own time zone, especially while being pregnant. Yet the co-founder and CEO of Vipop, a Hong Kong-based sustainable fashion brand, has done just that. It’s exactly 8:45 am on a typical Hong Kong gloomy Monday, yet Pérez is all set for a day of photoshoot and interview. Her ease and her vibrant full smile suggest this is all very normal and time really is just a construct.

From the get-go, she also expresses her opinion on maternity wear: “I’m hoping that we are able to redefine what’s considered ‘decent’ for pregnant women. I am proud of my body for the amazing things it’s doing right now. Minus the morning sickness, I think I am at my happiest. Heels during pregnancy? Go for it. Who made such rules anyways?”

Sustainable values

As a self-confessed collector, Pérez travels to fashion shows across South and Central America in search of resort-wear designers to represent, pinpointing those whom she believes will appeal to Asian customers. What started as an internet business with co-founder and fellow Venezuelan Fabiana González, now occupies a cosy white shop called Artezano by Vipop and is reaching customers in the US and Europe.

Her parents are artisans, so she has always liked fashion and handicrafts. Additionally, clothing created by Latin American designers, who historically use sustainable weaving and dyeing methods, felt appropriate for a market where ethical consciousness is growing in importance.

Red Percy Dress by Palma Canaria

“Vipop brings together a community of international designers making bags, jewellery and clothing in unique designs like the ones I’m wearing,” she says. “Our designers take care of the ethical or eco-friendly values behind the pieces and we also take care of the value of each piece. So it’s this community we’re building in the new fashion industry. We’re offering new ways to be sustainable. It’s not just ‘sustainable’; it can be very fun too.”

Vipop builds partnerships based on sustainability practice. Designers and collaborators are chosen by the effort they put into one or more of the following clean fashion criteria: handmade, locally produced, carbon neutral, use of vegan or organic materials, low waste, longevity, recycled materials and fair wage.

Damage limitation

“It’s very important to put attention to how the pieces we buy are actually made, who is making them and how it affects our environment, the community around us and the planet, because we can see so much damage in the world from the fashion industry. This is something very special for me and all the team, and this is why we selected this subject to build a fashion brand and e-commerce platform.”

Black Cher dress cut pleated skirt with top by Nabel Martins

This combination of focused strategy with faith in humanity and the occasional flight of fancy seems a winning formula, especially when matched by an unstinting gusto for whatever challenges her fashion career or an impending new addition to the family will throw at her.

Calming vibes

Despite her hypermodern appearance, not to mention the permanent arts on her skin, her style is very traditional. As seen on her Instagram, whether it’s a friend’s wedding or a trip abroad, she creates distinct ‘vibes’ (to use her favourite phrase) for each occasion. Indeed, her process is true fashion-icon behaviour.

“We’re still right on time. I cannot emphasise more the importance of working with the right people. It will really get the job done and produce output that you want to have,” she reflects as she changes for look no.9.

Pérez seems unfazed by the fame in the fashion world she is currently experiencing. She is seemingly without ego: calm and reflective with a slightly starry professional glow that makes her the ability to inhabit someone else’s mind look easy. During and in between takes, she is compellingly unselfconscious.

“But that’s the work of it,” she shares. “In reality, you have to be aware of what you’re feeling, what the team in the room is feeling. Once the camera clicks, you have this third level of awareness – your mark, the light and which way you should be facing. And it’s like you are constantly having to juggle those three things the whole time. She pauses and adds knowingly: “Pretty much like pregnancy huh?”

Dressed to express

Fashion for her is about the moments of pure enjoyment, of just letting go to the point that she can be surprised. It represents the most acute version of fun. “Which is why I love it so much. It’s my playground. I love it,” she admits giddily.

Emiliana pants and bared back top in paillette by Nabel Martins

“Clothes allow us to show off our unique personalities. Many of us care about how we seem in public, which is cool and just right. But some of us experience pressure to follow the newest trends in fashion,” she reminds, throwing in a note of caution.

Mother load

One trend she is happy to embrace is her pregnancy. These days, the word ‘Mother’, without the preceding article, is present everywhere, as not just a regular word but a colloquial term and part of this generation’s slang; fans, brands and occasionally even mums themselves use it. It is also affectionately applied to prominent women who have a devoted following. And Pérez is surely mothering the fashion game.

Blue one sleeve cut out dress by Baobab Accessories by Vipop

“My body is going through so many changes again, but I ’ve grown to respect it so much that I look past the physical. I fully embrace it for serving a much deeper purpose, something far bigger than myself and anything I ever gave it credit for. I’m so grateful for, and amazed by, what my body is capable of,” she states, flashing a smile.

At the end of our shoot, she swaps her stilettos for platformed boots, saying with a wink: “It’s time to be more comfortable.” Whatever tomorrow brings, Lenia Pérez will have the right attitude – and look – to take it on.

Interview, Text & Art Direction: Joseff Musa Photographer: Jack Law Videographer: Jack Fontanilla Venue: Qura Bar – Regent Hong Kong Brands: Daniella Batlle, Baobab, Nabel Martins and Vipop

All about Yve: Through Dawn Jewellery, Yve Chan unites a passion for craftsmanship and connecting cultures

Yve Chan is a man with a deep-rooted value system honed by growing up in a town in China filled with craftsmen who made their living from jade. These artisans painstakingly cut jade in their small workshops and then every morning at 3 am went to the local market set up by his father to sell their wares. Years later, when Chan established a jewellery business in Hong Kong, he named it Dawn Jewellery in tribute to his father and this heritage.

What struck him was how these craftsmen would communicate jade through the telling of traditional stories, and he knew from a young age he wanted to be involved in this industry. His early career in Hong Kong saw him working for a major US advertising agency, Leo Burnett, but his interest in craftsmanship and the desire to “realise the creativity” was too strong. He soon quit advertising and went to the UK to achieve the necessary qualifications.

Chan shone during a jewellery and silversmithing course at Birmingham City University. He received the Assay Office London Technology Award from The Goldsmiths’ Company and was a Silver Award winner at International Jewellery London’s Special Award for Fine Jewellery. He further studied at the Gemological Institute of America in Los Angeles to achieve his certificate as a gemologist.

A thoughtful man in his late 30s with a passion for his craft, Chan says these years have defined the rest of his life. Sitting in his Causeway Bay workshop and retail gallery, he flashes back to his final year in the UK when it dawned on him that he was actually quite good at his chosen craft. “At that moment I realised this is maybe my lifelong career,” he says. In another fond memory, he also notes that his time as a coxswain in a university rowing team forged his team spirit.

Following his return to Hong Kong, he gained valuable experience working in product development for a large retailer before setting up Dawn Jewellery in 2014. He originally just sold jadeite jewellery but soon gained international partners for his Tsim Sha Tsui flagship store following exhibitions at international shows. Dawn specialises in bridal jewellery, selling an array of wedding rings and exquisite pearl and diamond creations, and holds workshops in the craft.

Telling international stories
Chan reveals that one of the first major partners for his platform was a famous wedding ring maker from Germany with a history spanning 150 years This had been one of his “idol” companies from his time as a student in the UK.

“I think we both realised that we share the same thoughts towards craftsmanship, towards business models, towards what is going on in the market,” he says. “We were at a good point to introduce them to Hong Kong.”

“They are very picky in choosing the retailer, because there can be a lot of very big retailers, but they are not necessarily able to talk through the philosophy of the brand. I think we are good storytellers. So, one by one I am inviting these artists to tell their stories,” says Chan, who now has more than 20 partners from across the world.

True value of craftsmanship
From the outset of Dawn Jewellery, Chan has wanted his clients to appreciate the true meaning of the products they purchase and the artisanship involved. “When we asked what sort of elements of this brand you like, I realised most of the audience could not tell me,” he says.

His desire is for customers to grasp a product’s intrinsic value; he encourages them to touch the jewellery and examine very carefully what they are looking for, stirring an appreciation of the elements added and how many hours have been spent to make such a ring.

A Japanese partner makes jewellery using traditional mokume-gane techniques that have their roots in samurai weaponry; a German partner applies machinery techniques to perfect their rings and make them stronger. “This is the value; this is the story,” he says, outlining the ethos of Dawn Jewellery. “Each of the craftsmen, when they make things, each mark left – it means something, either perfections or aesthetic judgment.”

Photographer: Jack Law Art Direction: Joseff Musa Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma Videographer: Jack Fontanilla Hair & Make Up: Owen Ko Venue: Sunsmith workshop

Read the full interview in the May 2023 issue (pg: 100). Available on the Gafencu app on Android and Apple.

Brief Encounter: Wellington Legal partner Olivia Kung is a law unto herself

Live, laugh, and love – three things that, according to Olivia Kung, make the world go around and a better place. As the daughter of a former Chief Investigator of the Operations Department Independent Commission Against Corruption, her fate was somewhat determined at the age of five when she put on her father’s barrister’s gown one night. She laughs from her gut, the way you would with family, as she recalls this significant moment in her childhood, and delivers the verdict that it made her into the woman she is now.

“I wish I had that power over my child,” says Kung, reflecting upon her father’s influence in shaping her life. “But things are just different now, aren’t they? People in 2023 create their own path, for better or for worse, defying the ‘norms’ the society or what their family might believe in. The determination of my teenage son really inspires me to do more and be the best version of myself.”

The walls of her office at Wellington Legal, where she is a partner and sits on the board of founders, are filled with watercolour paintings by her son, juxtaposing with the grey and glass walls of the skyscrapers within the heart of Central. With decades of legal experience under her belt, Kung has litigated expertly in a wide variety of areas including complex property ownership disputes, fraud cases, debt recovery and bankruptcy as well as personal injury claims. It’s no surprise that these cases, which she has successfully defended, attracted media attention.

The many charms of her life, of course, have not arrived without solid background work. Before the day of our interview and photo shoot, she did her due diligence on the magazine, the lawyer’s instinct for discovery taking hold. It was, however, the entertainment industry that gave her the confidence and wit, as well as the time-management skills, needed to present legal cases – growing up she had juggled academic studies with extra-curricular activities in showbusiness.

“I did acting and hosting stints at RTHK for their children’s TV programs. I am not sure how I managed it, but I did,” she says. “Sometimes, life really surprises us.”

Her honour
Questions of destiny and volition have trailed Kung through her life. At a young age, she already knew how to distinguish a great lawyer – by their creativity. With an eye for making connections and an ear for deft persuasion, it is a quality that she has been judged to possess.

“As a lawyer, I think it’s crucial to act not only by the book but also with a heart and mind for justice. Common sense, though not so common these days, has to be played in order to win a case,” she emphasises.

For the self-confessed goal-getter, a diminutive frame belies a commanding presence. The Queen Mary University of London School of Law alumnus completed her Legal Practice Course at the University of Exeter and attained qualifications to be a solicitor in England, Wales and Hong Kong. Prior to Wellington Legal, she worked for several top-tier firms in the UK, a leading local practice in Hong Kong and as in-house counsel for a listed financial company.

Marcus double-breasted wool-blend felt blazer by Sandro (courtesy of The Outnet), One-shoulder stretch jersey top by Helmut Lang (courtesy of The Outnet), Le Sylvie cropped highrise straight-leg jeans by Frame (courtesy of The Outnet)

No objection
While as poised as you might expect from an established lawyer, Kung defies other stereotypical traits that are applied to the legal profession; she is neither solemn nor uptight. After a few clicks for the test shots and a quick pointer on how to pose, she is nailing the photoshoot, lounging in a lazyboy in the middle of the bustling city traffic.

“I taught myself to be adaptive to any kind of situation. Whatever background you may have, school you graduated from or clan you belong to, it is important to adapt to the situation you are put into,” she says. “We must never say no easily and be done with it. We find the solution there possibly is, no matter how small or big, and we take that and make it work.”

Undeniably, this flexibility guides her as a lawyer, as does her capability to be fair and rational. Dignity is another word she often brings up. She says she has been defending a person’s right to dignity from day one and she still holds herself to that standard.

“Dignity can also mean having the right balance in every aspect of our lives. It’s not just about self-love anymore. It’s about making the most out of the situation we’re put into. I don’t function merely from 9 am to 5 pm. I am working 24/7. As a lawyer, as a mom, as a daughter, as a friend.”

Aisha cutout striped lurex gown by Rebecca Vallance (courtesy of Net-a-Porter)

Love before money
She expounds on the idea of “happiness” many times, too. It isn’t surprising language from the girl who worked in the entertainment industry, was raised by a well-off family and grew up as an only child. “I always tell my son to love what you do and do what you love. And this may also apply to everyone. Once you become good at it, then money will come in. Consider money as just a bonus. Happiness should always come first,” she says.

“Career choice is extremely important,” she continues. “If you pick something you hate, you’ll be spending so many hours torturing yourself, no matter how much a company would pay you. It’s the one thing in life that I think is the biggest determinant of happiness.

“I don’t really aim to leave a legacy once my time here on Earth is passed, but I hope I make people around me happy because I actually enjoy helping people. I help people because it makes me happy. It’s as simple as that.”

By her own rules
So what’s next for Kung? Optimism is the fuel driving every legal fight she has been in and will be involved in, and she is cooking up something exciting, yet again, in the coming months. “I cannot disclose it just yet, but it’s something that I am very passionate about. In life, you have to put in passion and dedication in order to achieve happiness and reach your full potential,” says the woman who is habitually positive about life – to the point that she is able to laugh even at the biggest of problems.

This time, though, she confesses that she might be setting up herself for criticism given the size of her ambition. Yet, there would be more people in life setting lofty targets for themselves if they had been taught to know what they believe and how to fight for it from when they first learned to speak.

Ultimately, the next chapters of her life are reading just the way she and her parents have planned, with a few tweaks and additions along the way. If there’s anything we know about attorney Olivia Kung, it is that when it comes to happiness, she will fight.

(Interview & Art Direction: Joseff Musa Photographer: Jack Law Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma Videographer: Jack Fontanilla Hair & Makeup: Joenny Lau Venue: Wellington Legal Cover look: Janie one-shoulder cape-effect sequined crepe mini dress by Safiyaa, courtesy of Net-A-Porter)

Matters of the Art – Amid the ever-changing world of art, Adeline Ooi has stayed true to her heart

How does one represent the Asian art scene? According to Adeline Ooi, Director Asia of Art Basel, it has come a long way, but there’s still a long line to take. “The art scene is ever evolving, so it’s really hard to claim that this is it, we’ve made it,” she says. “But we celebrate each win and I think over the past 10 years, some of the most rewarding aspects of it is watching the art sector grow not only in Hong Kong but across Asia as well.”

With just six weeks before the official opening of Art Basel in Hong Kong [held from 23-25 March], Ooi takes a break in mid-February to talk about matters of the art and of the heart. Arriving in casual clothes and sneakers, it is evident that she does things by her own rules, bringing and selecting clothes from her own wardrobe for the photo shoot. “No heels for me, please,” she advises the production team.

Adeline Ooi
Cetina pinstriped woven vest and nata pinstriped woven wideleg pants by LOULOU STUDIO (courtesy of Net-A-Porter)

Of Malaysian descent and raised by parents who worked in the plantation industry, Ooi confesses that her love for art was more slow-burn than an immediate fiery passion. Growing up in rural Malaysia, she wasn’t particular about what she wanted to be – as long as she didn’t end up in a 9-to-5 job. “Gosh, I wanted to be a flight attendant, because as a kid I thought that’s the only way that I’ll get to fly everywhere,” she says with a smile. It was only in her teenage years that she decided to study fine arts at Central Saint Martins in London and ultimately returned to Asia to pursue an art-centric career. Staying true to herself is an Ooi ethos. Although her parents first disagreed with her decision to build a career in the arts, she persisted, working at Valentine Willie Fine Art and co-founding the RogueArt cultural agency in Kuala Lumpur.

Adeline Ooi
Heels by Giuseppe Zanotti

She was appointed as Director Asia for Art Basel on Boxing Day 2014. “Was it like a Christmas gift? I can’t really tell because it meant landing with my skates on. It was both scary and exhilarating,” she says.

For her, in hindsight, a media interview with someone from the art sector was not necessarily imaginable during the late ‘90s, and a sit-down one-on-one chat is already a big indication that the Asian art scene is progressing. She says: “This interview is already a big feat. I remember in my 20s, a job in the art world means you have to be willing to do it with hardly any or very little pay and everything was in DIY set-up. There were just fewer opportunities for us Asians in general.”

Adeline Ooi
Heels by Giuseppe Zanotti

Art imitates Life

It is often said that life imitates art, but for Ooi, it works the other way around. “Art may not be for everyone, so it’s really hard to say that our lives are the main inspiration of art,” she says. “I think that is something that we all need to understand. More than anything, I believe that art really documents the human story.”

Looking at the etymology of curating, it is hard to imagine how it ever became the profession that it is now. It was only in the later years of the 20th century that the term curator was applied to exhibition makers, eventually becoming the title for some of the art world’s big players – Ooi now among them. Now in a globalised digital age, she is redefining her own profession as it evolves once again and how art fits within today’s creative scene. “I personally don’t believe in the notion that collecting art has to relate to a great investment. Sometimes we love something, but we don’t necessarily have to own it. The best way to experience art is in the chance encounters at a museum.”

(Interview by: Joseff Musa, Photographer: Jack Law, Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma,
Videographer: Jack Fontanilla, Hair & Makeup: Heti Tsang and Venue: M+)

Read the full interview in the April 2023 issue (pg: 100). Available on the Gafencu app on Android and Apple.  

In his Yiuniverse: Kev Yiu on building his personal brand and fulfilling his fashion design destiny

One of Hong Kong’s foremost fashion designers, Kev Yiu has headed several leading couture brands and is now focussing on his own label – Kev Yiu Couture.

Take us back to the day you knew you wanted to be a fashion designer. What had drawn you into it? 

Well, it all began when I was still in primary school and I started making clothes for my younger sister that were inspired by the lights and toys on show at the arcade that was home to our family business. I remember going straight there after school and just starting to design. Back then, though, my family – especially my father – saw fashion design as essentially a female thing, so no one took my interest all that seriously. If you have a passion for something and if you really want to excel at it, though, you will know deep down that that is what you are destined to do, regardless of what anyone else might think.

Kev Yiu
Blazer by Balmain, Necklace by Chanel

How did your family respond when you confirmed you wanted to pursue that particular passion? 

Well, here’s the thing… I took up fashion design but I didn’t tell them, trying hard to keep it from my dad in particular who was a policeman. Ironically, though, it was also because of him that I got to study in the UK on account of a scholarship programme, especially on offer to the children of Hong Kong policemen. It was only when they got my report card for the first semester that they found out what was I really studying. My dad was furious and that was really no surprise.

I wouldn’t necessarily advise any kids who find themselves in a similar situation today – with many families in Hong Kong still not particularly progressive-minded – to follow my example. While I was fortunate and it all worked out for me in the end, that may well not be the case for everyone. Ultimately, we all find our own route to success and that just happened to be mine. 

Kev Yiu
Jacket, pants and shoes by Dolce & Gabbana

Given the sector is famously saturated and intensively competitive, how did you first make your mark in the Hong Kong fashion world? 

I just kept going. When I first came back to Hong Kong, I just took a 9-5 job as a way of making enough money to live. Fast forward two years and I was hired by a major mainland brand to design handbags for them. This, in turn, led me to me becoming one of 18 contestants in a reality TV design challenge. While I was the first to be eliminated, even that didn’t discourage me. My competitive nature just kept me going and going. In the end, it took me another six months of doing the same thing over and over – looking for the right assignment, knocking on doors and taking on whatever I was offered. It’s a daunting process, but I believe it will always pay off eventually. In my case, I’m now working with my fourth investor as we look to expand the Kev Yiu Couture brand. 

If fashion design hadn’t worked out for you, did you have a Plan B? 

Designing is the only thing I’m good at. It is very much part of my nature to want to tell a story and so I am forever visualising how people should look. My mind is always racing ahead in that regard, so there really was no Plan B for me. This was always my ultimate and only career goal. 

Kev Yiu
Top by Versace, Pants by Balenciaga

How do you respond to those who denounce the fashion industry as wholly impractical and fixated on excess? 

Well for me, I’d never want to be deemed a practical designer. I see focusing on practicality as certain to compromise the quality of any work. Essentially, I believe couture is inherently excessive. It is, after all, quite literally wearable art. As a couturier, then, it’s really hard to restrict yourself to the solely practical. 

Walk us through your design and creative process. 

It’s all about lines and structure. I want to create something that’s both classy and complementary to any client’s own look and style. I’d like to think that it’s very much part of my job to help women define what makes them unique and beautiful and then accentuate those qualities with whatever I create for them. My first question to any client is always: “What are your body insecurities?” I then want to factor in those insecurities and also emphasise their best assets. It’s really all about explaining to the client what looks best on them. As a designer, I always want to make women feel as beautiful as possible. Fashion, after all, is about feeling good in whatever you’re wearing. Essentially, that’s its function. 

Kev Yiu
Suit jacket by Lanvin

In career terms, what was your punch-in-the-air moment? 

Ultimately, I’d have to say it was the first time a celebrity picked one of my designs and wore it on stage. It was Sammy Cheng [the renowned Hong Kong singer and actor] and I remember every little detail. I was completely overwhelmed…

(Interview by: Joseff Musa Photographer: Jack Law Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma Videographer: Jack Fontanilla)

Read the full interview in the March 2023 issue (pg: 96). Available on the Gafencu app on Android and Apple.  

Indra Banga on being one of Hong Kong’s foremost philanthropists

Since the mid 80s, Indra Banga has taken over many different roles such as the Director of the Caravel Foundation, as a light of the Banga’s home and as an Indian woman in Hong Kong.

What made you decide to move to Hong Kong?
My husband and I were working in London in 1984, the year the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed. The company my husband worked for saw a lot of opportunities as likely to emerge in China and, as a result, he was asked to move to Hong Kong. We originally planned to stay for three years but, 38 years later, we’re still here. And this is very much our home now.

What has stayed with you from your childhood back in India?
My childhood was very structured and disciplined, because my parents were in the army. We were taught to always be diligent and honest and that’s something I have tried to pass on to my own children. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun; I had no responsibilities back then after all. By contrast, now I am responsible for a huge number of people through the many charities I am involved in.

How has the Indian community reacted to the decision of some to exit Hong Kong over recent years?
The majority of the Indian people identify as Hong Kongers. We feel that, unless there’s ever some kind of a move to push us out of the city, then we are here to stay. When people ask what my plan B is, I always say “Plan B is Hong Kong, Plan C is Hong Kong…”

What was it like being a new arrival in Hong Kong back then?
I first came to Hong Kong in 1985 and didn’t speak the language. It was a very open society, though, and I didn’t find things too difficult. I never really felt that I needed to be western or Chinese. I felt I could just be myself.

That all changed a bit in 2003, however, the year of the SARS outbreak. While a lot of foreigners sent their wives and children back home, many Indians stayed put. That was when the locals started to see us as one of them, largely because we didn’t abandon them.

Now, in the case of my children, I don’t see them as Punjabi, or Chinese, but rather as global children and global citizens who can easily fit in wherever they are. At the end of the day, I think it’s important for everyone to be themselves without any fear of judgement, discrimination or intimidation.

What are your favourite places in Hong Kong?
Aside from the famous seafood restaurants and country parks, my new favourite place is my daughter Dana’s house, simply because my grandchildren are there.

“I don’t see my children as Punjabi, or Chinese, but rather as global citizens who can fit in anywhere. It’s important for everyone to live without the fear of judgemement and intimidation.”

Do you consider yourself and your husband as a power couple?
While I don’t think we’re a power couple, I do think we are a great team. In fact, behind every successful person, there is a team as I don’t think anybody can succeed on their own. Making it as an entrepreneur requires three things – hard work, knowledge and luck. If you have the other two, but don’t have luck, you won’t get anywhere. If you have a lot of support, though, luck becomes less of a factor, perhaps because having the backing of the right people may be all the luck you need.

You’ve billed one of your recent projects – the revival of the Gurudwara Khalsa Diwan Sikh temple – as a gift to Hong Kong’s Indian community. What inspired this particular initiative?
The Sikh community in Hong Kong is very small but very vibrant. The present Gurudwara dates back to 1901 and, in 2013, we started to see cracks in the building. At the time, we felt that in order to maintain our identity and honour our heritage, we had to build a new Gurudwara. Given there are only 15,000 Sikhs in Hong Kong, it was difficult to raise the money required. As a result, our focus is now on ensuring our current temple is still standing in a 100 years’ time.

Is your charitable work exclusively focused on the Indian community?
While there is a lot of need within the Indian community, we don’t restrict our activities to benefiting specific ethnic minorities. We have, for instance, established endowments at the three US universities our children attended – Princeton, Dartmouth and Duke. These are open to any gifted student who lacks the financial resources to study at one of these institutions, whether they are from India, Hong Kong or China. We do not make distinctions and we are looking to support young people from all walks of life.

In addition to your other commitments, you’ve also found time to be the President of the Hong Kong Indian Women’s Club (HKIWC) for some 10 years now. How has that particular institution evolved?
From the day it was founded in 1957, the HKIWC has always been dedicated to helping the underprivileged and the marginalised, a sign that many Indian women in Hong Kong have long prioritised charitable initiatives.

As the years have gone by, it has become a much more open and vocal body, while its focus has broadened beyond helping the Indian community and into meeting the needs of the local population in general. Throughout the last three years, for instance, we partnered with various organisations to help provide Covid relief by preparing 300 meals a day for those in need. While it’s never been a stay-at-home organisation, its members are now out and about more than ever as they take a lead across a wide range of philanthropic endeavours.

“Finding success requires hard work, knowledge and luck. Without luck, you won’t get anywhere. If you have a lot of support, luck becomes less of a factor.”

You’re particularly well known for your work with the Caravel Foundation. What do you see as its primary focus?
The Caravel Foundation was set up to help the underprivileged get better access to education and healthcare. Our hope is that, over time, those who benefit from our scholarship programme will form a distinct group, a kind of alumni association. We would welcome such individuals to intern or work with us and believe they would also be able to support one another in a variety of different ways.

Another one of our core activities sees us working very closely with Integrated Brilliant Education. Our backing helps them provide Cantonese classes to underprivileged Non-Chinese Speaking children throughout Hong Kong. At present, we are working with about 300 students, many of whom we have provided with a laptop or an iPad to help build up their technological skills. Next year we are planning to open a kindergarten, which will provide an immersive Cantonese experience for children as young as three.

You recently received an honorary fellowship from the City University of Hong Kong. How did that come about?
Well, we’ve long admired the way they operate. Beyond educating students, they also use innovative technology to introduce new concepts and ideas to the general public. This led to us working with them to launch the Indra and Harry Banga Gallery, a space dedicated to harnessing the power of technology to showcase art. To date, our biggest exhibition focused on the works of Leonardo da Vinci, with interactive technology.

Amid all the changes you have witnessed, what have been the constants in your life?
My friends and family. I value friendship beyond anything and I can proudly say that I still have many of the same friends I had 40 years ago. While I have also made a lot of new friends, my old friends have always been there. It’s the same with my family. Together, they have been my ever-present support system, unwaveringly constant and enduringly strong.

Thank you.

 

(Interview by: Joseff Musa Photographer: Jack Law Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma
Videographer: Jackie Chan Hair and Make Up: Heti Tsang)

Rebecca Chung on female empowerment and self-love

From music teacher to beauty maven, High Society Skin Clinic’s Rebecca Chung turns treatment rooms into safe havens

What makes your beauty clinics stand out?

No matter at Princess Brows or High Society Skin Clinic, we show our love and support to our clients. We don’t practise hard sell like many other establishments in Hong Kong. This is also based on my own experience: hard selling is so common place at beauty clinics in the city that quite often clients are pushed to buy treatments they don’t need.

Instead, we encourage clients to open up to us and talk about their problems to relieve themselves of that emotional burden. In each treatment room, we have a mirror where we place inspirational quotes and positive affirmations to inspire and remind our clients of their own beauty. Thus, they can walk out feeling happy and confident in their own skin and body. We realise that our clients are so stressed from their day-to-day life that they tend to forget to take care of themselves. We want to create a safe, stress-free space of relaxation and joy.

Earrings, bracelets and rings by Royal Enterprises
Inez asymmetric ruched satin midi dress by A.L.C., courtesy of Net-A-Porter
Heels by Mach & Mach

Could you share your perspective on today’s beauty trends in Hong Kong?

K-Pop and K-Beauty are rapidly growing in popularity, and we have noticed a demand for more V-shaped faces. At High Society Skin Clinic, we provide HIFU [high-intensity focused ultrasound] skin-tightening treatments to achieve this look.

Clients can see immediate results after one session, and zero downtime which is ideal for Hong Kongers as they are so busy and want to look good after one session! We also provide Emsculpt NEO [non-invasive body shaping] and Emtone [non-invasive cellulite reduction and skin tightening] for a more toned-looking body.

Any advice for a quick confidence boost?

Self-love is really important, especially in trying times such as the last two years of the Covid pandemic. People are stressed – from work and from everyday life. Many people suffer from chronic stress, anxiety and mental illness and may not be aware of it.

I encourage them to talk to their friends, to a professional, or spend some time at High Society Skin Clinic. Freely expressing yourself is cathartic and allows you to restore your confidence.


Earrings and ring by Royal Enterprises
Adelaide one-shoulder feather-trimmed crepe mini dress by 16Arlington, courtesy of Net-A-Porter
Belt bag by Chanel
Heels by Rene Caovilla

“I already have all my permanent makeup on, so basically, I don’t have to do makeup every day; I can just wake up and walk out like this”

Tell us more about Glowagen.

Glowagen is an edible wellness brand that I started in 2020 somewhat by chance. I had found manufacturers in Australia and Japan that made supplements that focus on health and wellness, which is something I advocate.

The brand has an array of products from NAD+ supplements [nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide for brain-cell health] to anti-ageing and collagen drinks. We also have supplements for breast health, especially for breastfeeding mothers, and skin whitening.

What’s your daily beauty and self-care regimen?

I already have all my permanent makeup on, so basically, I don’t have to do makeup every day; I can just wake up and walk out like this. On the rare occasions I do apply makeup, it is to attend an interview or event or go to dinner.

My daily skincare consists of a cleanser, serum, face cream and sunblock. I love Swiss products! My current favourites are my own formulations, the Rebecca Sylverster White Truffle Recovery Serum and the Vampire Magic Mask, as well as Cellcore and La Prairie products.

As for my self-care routine is going to High Society Skin Clinic and doing a session of NEO Emsculpt treatment. It burns fat and saves time, as it only lasts 30 minutes. To relax my mind, I like doing stretching and jogging. I also enjoy swimming with the family.

Earrings and ring by Royal Enterprises
Balmain tweed double-breasted blazer by Balmain
Lavera jumpsuit by Alice + Olivia
Heels by Rene Caovilla

What attracted you to medical tattooing?

The medical tattooing we do at Princess Brows is a means to empower women and help give them their confidence back. We provide a range of services from recreating areolas on women who underwent breast surgery and hair strokes on areas such as the eyebrows for people with alopecia, to covering up skin imperfections such as under-eye dark circles, stretch marks and vitiligo.

When I launched the brand a decade ago, I was doing semi-permanent eyebrow and eyeliner treatments. At the time, beauty practices were still a little old-fashioned. Traditional cosmetic tattooing was done with minimal safety and hygiene standards. It was quite common to see practitioners doing these tattoos with no gloves or sensitisation, and there were practically no professional beauty academies teaching proper ways of executing these treatments.

That did not sit right with me, so I looked for better pathways and decided to go abroad to learned more about microblading, cosmetic and medical tattooing. I discovered that these techniques can go beyond perfecting beauty and become a way to empower and restore confidence.

Then, noticing that most microblades used in cosmetic tattooing in Hong Kong were made in China and undergo minimal sterilisation, I started The House of PMU, a series of high-quality semi-permanent eyebrow, eyeliner and lipliner pigments made in Germany to ensure a high standard of safety and hygiene. We provide precision microblades to carry out safe, sanitary treatments responsibly. The best part is that our pigments come in a range of custom-made colours dedicated to the Asian market.

High Society Skin Clinic opened a new flagship branch this April. What’s next for you?

We have been lucky to be able to expand High Society Skin Clinic within the same building as our previous venue. We now take up an entire floor, affording a larger space and upgrading our technology, equipment and machines to give our clients a more comfortable experience and the best services.

We have been able to franchise G.E.L. Lashes [next-generation eyelash lifting] in more than seven countries worldwide. In the near future, we would like expand to retail and hopefully open more stores in popular shopping malls. We have also expanded our supplement brand, Glowagen, to Watson’s across the city and hope to move to China and beyond soon.

Earrings, necklace, bracelet, rings by Royal Enterprises
X Revolve bustier gown by For love & lemons
Heels by Alexander Wang

“We place inspirational quotes and positive affirmations [on the mirrors] to inspire and remind our clients of their own beauty”

Tell us about your childhood and how you realised your passion for beauty.

My childhood in Hong Kong was pretty average; I grew up just like any other local girl. I studied at local schools and learned how to play the piano. I started teaching music at the age of 15 and for more than 10 years I enjoyed it, but I also came to the point when I was ready for a change.

Beauty and fashion have always been passions of mine. I remember that I used to love playing with Barbie dolls, doing their makeup and getting them dressed. I started doing semi-permanent makeup treatments as a hobby, but never thought I could make it into a career until I was 30 and decided to pursue it seriously. Shifting my career path, I decided to create something of my own and launched Princess Brows in 2011.

At the time, Hong Kong didn’t have too many semi-permanent makeup practitioners, so I was keen to learn various techniques and styles of cosmetic and medical tattooing. Then, once Princess Brows was up and running, I realised that there are so many other avenues for creativity and innovation in the beauty industry. In 2018, I expanded my business with High Society Skin Clinic, where we offer body contouring and hair-removal treatments with the intention to foster empowerment and confidence in one’s own healthy, happy body.

Who is the person you look up to the most? Any personal heroes?

My husband! He takes care of me, my family and my business. We actually started this business together. Though he has a job of his own, he used his spare time to take care of the finances, and basically did the things I didn’t want to do! I am really lucky to have someone who gives me unconditional support and trust, and is able to take care of the family. He takes my son to school every day and cooks for me, too!

Finally, if you could pass down anything to your children, what would it be?

Definitely not money! The most important thing for me is that my children grow up kind and respectful of other people, no matter their background – that is the most fundamental value I hope to pass on to them.

My children are now four and 14 years old. They don’t know their goals yet, and I, myself, am still trying to figure out how to be the best parent I can be. But I am also blessed to be able to put them in the best schools and trust that the teachers are able to nurture those good values in them as well. 

Thank you.

 

(Interview by: Roberliza Eugenio; Photographer: Jack Law; Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma; Videographer: Jackie Chan; Hair & make up artist: Angela Shum; Venue: High Society Skin Clinic – Central Branch)

Art veteran Simon Ma’s vision of creating harmony through art

Hong Kong-born, Shanghai based, art veteran Simon Ma shares his vision of creating harmony through art with his recent travelling Drago Cavallo Exhibition

From a young age, you painted under the guidance of Chinese master Fan Tzu Teng. How did that shape you?
I was lucky to have him inspire me, and not just in painting. He also inspired me to become a good person. We believed that whatever you paint first comes from your heart, then flows through your hands – manifesting how we think and how we look at the world.

“Harmonise” is a word he always reminded me of. To harmonise with nature and with people, regardless of their background, whether they are rich or poor. This way, you allow yourself to view the world from all angles, looking at everyone and every situation from the top down, left to right and from front to back as well. He was my master in matters of the mind, too – an extremely kind and an open person, he believed that we should do charity work, with a pure heart – that is what would help one be a good painter.

For a time, you had your own company in Shanghai, Ma Design. What propelled you to make the transition from architect and urban planner to artist?

I started painting when I was seven years old, and I played music when I was 13 years old. After that, I attended boarding school in the UK and then studied architecture and urban planning at University College of London.

It’s hard being an architect. I prefer being an artist because I don’t have to just work for the client. As an artist, I can actually create anything I like, without limitations or boundaries. I started sculpting and exhibiting my work to the public in various locations around the world. To me, this is the more interesting part of art and creation, it is much more meaningful to me [than architecture. I put them there like an architecture but in miniature forms.

You recently launched a large touring artistic installation, Drago Cavallo, in conjunction with the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Could you tell us more about this?

Winfried (Engelbrecht-Bresges), the CEO of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, called me and wanted me to come back to Hong Kong to do the Drago Cavallo – Travel Around HK exhibition as part of the SAR’s 25th anniversary.

We thought the city needed new energy, something to bring everyone in harmony. The mythical dragon horse (‘drago cavallo’ in Italian) is the spirit of China – one of the eight mythical beasts that symbolises inspiration; and I think people all over the world like horses.

I actually created these lovable Drago Cavallos during Covid-19 to give people hope and new energy. So, we brought back 10,000 Drago Cavallos and are planning on displaying a 25-metre-high Drago Cavallo next year.

I’m working very hard on this, trying to harmonise Hong Kong society – in different districts and also in schools, where students can paint Drago Cavallo and understand the spirit of the two animals (dragon and horse). The cool thing about this project is that it will harmonise society through art.

The Jockey Club has also been very supportive. We are also hosting a competition, and asking everyone to join the competition and try to set up one Drago Cavallo for each district.

“I prefer being an artist because you can actually create anything you like, with no limitations, no boundaries. This is much more meaningful to me [than architecture]”

You have a strong affinity with horses. Could you share with us why that is?
The horse is the most beautiful animal. They are energetic, international and always moving forward. They never complain though they can have a temper, too; when they want to, they just go. I see myself as somewhat of a horse whisperer. I go around the world, to places like Mongolia, to see horses. And when I find them, they are like my friends. You have to build a friendship with horses before you can paint them. I paint from inside them; I’m painting their vision.

You divide your time between your Hong Kong studio in Wong Chuk Hang and Shanghai. What differences have you observed between the two major cities?
I have been in China for 23 years. Shanghai is a very fast-growing city and full of energy. Whereas Hong Kong has stopped for the past three or four years; it’s actually becoming less international. If you look at the government in Shanghai and the local community, there is such a respect for art and its artists. But looking at Hong Kong, one might question how many good artists there are in the city. Shanghai, on the other hand, has so many ‘West Kowloon’s, not just one. And there are 20 or 30 more museums as well.

But Shanghai is not an easy place to survive in as an artist. You have to be very good at what you do, you have to be really good with people, and you have to be really good with the market as well. You have to be ahead of the market rather than follow it. We change because of our environment, but the environment doesn’t change because of us.

You have collaborated successfully as an artistic designer with international brands, such as Porsche and Ferrari. How did that come about?
I think these international luxury brands are looking for a Chinese artist who can connect with people internationally and locally. I understand both cultures – especially the Italian mindset, and I can instil Chinese art into their luxurious products harmoniously; it goes beyond just mixing two things together.

You’re also pretty active on Instagram. What value does social media give you as an artist?
I am encouraging my team to be active on all social media platforms because it’s better to share and let more people appreciate your art. Why keep art to yourself? Open up and let people see it.


“I am like the horse whisperer. I go around the world, to places like Mongolia, to see horses. And when I find them, they are like my friends. I’m painting their vision”

If you could go back in time and meet anyone from the past, who would it be?
My auntie, who passed away four years ago. She gave me my name ‘Simon’. And also, my master, Fan Tzu Teng. I would pay a million dollars to have dinner with them again, because as you get older, you realise the number of people you love gets less and less. Fan Tzu Teng is like my father. He had no son, so I was like a son to him. When I approached his body at his funeral, I knelt down; I knelt all the way to his body. There were a few hundred people there and they all stood up. This is the highest respect I could give to my teacher.

When do you get your best ideas?
I always get my best ideas when I’m having a shower. I feel light, like I’m being purified by water – and all my spirituality emerges.

Do you still play music?
I love music. I still have my band in China. I used to write music before I got too busy. I’m a left-handed drummer (like Phil Collins) as well as a singer. If you ever hear me sing, you’d be surprised. Music is my life. It helps to create good art.

Thank you.

 

(Interview by: Robert Murry; Photographer: Jack Law; Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma; Videographer: Jackie Chan; Venue: Simon Ma Gallery)

 

Civil justice champion Albert So on arbitration, blockchain, AI, and more…

Law practitioner, regulator, professor and technology whizz, multifaceted legal brain Albert So talks arbitration, money-laundering within the blockchain and robo-law, a deep learning AI technology…

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How did you get into law?
My first degree was in computer science, but I took some elective social science subjects including law. It was then that I discovered my interest in the subject and pursued a second degree in law at King’s College London before studying business law at the University of Cambridge. I then went on to Harvard Kennedy School in the US for my research degree in investment law.

You are the founder and Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Mediation and Arbitration Centre. How did that come about?
I started my professional experience in Canary Wharf, London, where I learnt about regulatory issues and commonwealth jurisdictions, then I returned to Hong Kong just before the global economic crisis and the collapse of the Lehman Brothers. At the time, I was a regulator doing investigative work on money laundering and financial disputes, but because the incident involved so many complainants and victims, and the caseload was tremendous, and nobody knew then what financial dispute resolution or mediation were, it called for civil justice reform.

That was when [in 2009] the Hong Kong Mediation and Arbitration Centre (HKMAAC) was founded. Traditionally these cases would have been brought to court for litigation; however, with the founding of the HKMAAC, we would instead try to settle disputes by arbitration, or alternative dispute resolution. It’s a means to handle financial disputes to omit the high legal costs of going to court, the long waiting time, and overall, coming to a solution that would be beneficial for all parties.

At the time of its inception, we were only 15 regulators, today we are probably more than 40,000 students, mediators, arbitrators, as well as graduates that have undertaken our arbitration training. We also provide about 10 scholarships at different local universities including the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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You also teach law. Is teaching something you have always been passionate about?
Soon after founding the HKMAAC, I took up teaching posts at several universities in Hong Kong, including teaching anti-money laundering at HKU, and teaching students and doctors at CUHK about the legalities of wealth succession planning. I love to teach, but I also want to share my own practical experience from work. I can see the value in sharing first-hand experiences, real case studies, market trends, and the challenges, questions and objections of clients and how to solve problems effectively given each unique situation.

So, this is why I love teaching, however if I had to choose [between teaching and practising the law], I don’t think I could do one without the other. If I were solely a practitioner, it would be a waste not to share my professional knowledge. On the other hand, I could not do traditional teaching work at the university without any practical experience. Anybody can teach theories, but I believe a good educator is very likely a very good practitioner as well.

“Anybody can teach theories, but I believe a good educator is very likely a very good practitioner as well”

You have since co-founded your own law firm and followed paths outside the courtroom. Tell us more.
I co-founded AC Lawyers with my partner Carina Chan. I am Chairman of the Wealth Succession Planning Association, and Dean of the California University School of Business Law and Technology. I’m also an honorary legal advisor for several NGOs in the city and I am leading a few legal robo-advisory services for the community. I currently fund a legal technology project for the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. It is basically a robo-lawyer.

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That sounds intriguing. Could you explain what exactly is a robo-lawyer?
Since my first degree was in technology, I am still very interested in this field. A robo-lawyer is basically a deep-analysis AI that will allow potential clients to enquire about legal matters, and practitioners to do the most value-added legal work. It does the more tedious and routine tasks such as drafting contracts from scratch and answering questions regarding the law, for example, if it is possible to settle different assets in various countries with one will, or if one is required to pay inheritance tax in a certain country. Of course, this won’t replace the practitioners and the paperwork that requires careful attention to detail, but it will help save precious time, lower legal costs, and reduce embarrassing situations in some cases.

How far away are we from having a robo-lawyer?
We still have a long way to go. The project is not mature enough to commercialise. Unlike customer-service AI and concierge support which utilise simple AI technology for answering questions and providing information without much deep analysis, in law, questions and answers are not straightforward. It may be for the better that we have this time to explore and continue to improve the development of this kind of technology – but I think it would be an amazing thing for the law industry.

“A robo-lawyer won’t replace the practitioners, but it will help save precious time, lower legal costs, and reduce embarrassing situations in some cases”

As a former regulator, what is your opinion of cryptocurrency investments?
It’s a very hot topic in the industry, not only for citizens but for corporations as well, and in particular in the wealth succession planning industry because before the emergence of cryptocurrency, we would do a lot of traditional investment in antiques, art, gold and diamonds.

However, investing in NFTs and cryptocurrency can be too volatile to predict. The value fluctuates a lot and makes it difficult for investors to foresee the future of this new investment method.

I personally love blockchain technology and the idea of decentralisation behind it, but from a regulatory perspective, there can be challenges and loopholes that raise alarms, especially when it comes to criminal activities and money-laundering issues. The problem arises when tracking the transactions of these individuals or syndicates as the blockchain is anonymous in nature. So, from a regulatory perspective, appropriate or suitable regulations may be a good thing for future development.

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What can the Hong Kong government do to further progress the cryptocurrency market?
I think the government can further the progress of cryptocurrency in the city by minimising platform risk. Platforms at the moment will hold cryptocurrency and NFT assets for clients. However, there is a chance that they can mismanage the assets or lose the device which holds the assets, which is why we need consumer protection.

There is also the issue of money laundering due to the anonymity of the transactions within the blockchain, which poses a problem for the government and regulators, but if we have suitable supervision, we can do things well. The Securities and Futures Commission’s proposed licensing registration for platforms running crypto businesses is a good solution, as this doesn’t strictly prohibit NFTs and cryptocurrency investments, but provides some degree of consumer protection. It strikes a fair balance for both sides to get the best of both worlds.

What’s your favourite way to relax?
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I loved travelling. It’s very important to go outside the bounds of what you are familiar with to see more things, meet more people and broaden your perspective. It’s not only good for your health, but also for your way of thinking and assimilating ideas. It would be pointless, however, for me to take a long vacation because clients will always call for decisions and advice, so I remind myself to take time for myself and that rest is for the longer journey ahead.

I love working in the city, but living in the countryside. Some of the activities I enjoy are punting, canoeing, boating and generally being out in nature.

Thank you.

 

Interview by: Roberliza Eugenio; Photographer: Jack Law; Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma; Videographer: Jackie Chan; Venue: Farrington Interiors Ltd.

Christine Chan Chiu on AARRTT, NFTs and fostering cultural exchange between Europe and Asia

Looking to deepen a love and appreciation of art, Christine Chan Chiu’s AARRTT-istic platform is a game changer for Hong Kong culture…

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Christine Chiu wearing Proenza Schouler

You co-founded AARRTT. Can you briefly describe the concept behind it?
It was founded first and foremost to present one unified platform to have a curated selection of pre-filtered events and happenings in Hong Kong, within the region and beyond. So to find art, you wouldn’t need to click on like 10 different websites or google what’s happening or where the next biennale is taking place.

What led you to your love of art?
I was definitely influenced by my mother. She’s very artistic and creative. She was a docent for museums in Hong Kong. When we went on family holidays she would take me and my siblings to see art. As I got older, I had the opportunity to study other subjects but somehow I started taking art-history courses at my college.

I’m a very visual person and I love history as well, so it seemed to be the perfect fit. I also enjoy how art movements influence social and economic developments within a society. Art changes, it chronicles and records how we as humans react to those changes on both a personal and collective level.

“Art changes and chronicles changes – and records how humans react to those changes both on a personal and collective level”

Could you tell us what was the thinking behind the name AARRTT?
There’s an interesting anecdote behind that. When my business partner Krystyna Winckler and I got together, it was because of our love of art. And we wanted to pick a name that would reflect that. Coming up with the name was quite easy as we mirrored each other, both in our vision for the company as well as our values, upbringing, our kids, our family and even our name – although she’s French and I’m Chinese.

We have pillars. The first being ‘What to See’. We also have a city art guide that breaks the locations down into different districts and tells people where to go for gallery hopping or where to see the next best art shows. And finally we have an educational section, which is ‘What to Know’. Where we present topics we think are trending at the moment – from Chinese diaspora art to street art in Hong Kong, to how to build a collection. We hope that AARRTT platform will be a link to foster cultural exchange between Europe and Asia, as well as the rest of the world.

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Christine Chiu wearing White caped shirt by Hidy Ng

What’s your take on the newly launched M+ Museum?
It’s fantastic. The whole team has done an amazing job and it does Hong Kong proud. Doryun Chong, the chief curator, has done a terrific job of presenting such a diverse range of thematic exhibitions. We’ve all been waiting so long to see the Sigg Collections, from Revolution to Globalisation. I don’t think any of us have seen such a large collection of Chinese art before. It’s quite phenomenal and had to be curated in such a way that it provides the artworks with context and is understood within the history of China at that time.

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Christine Chiu wearing Jacket and pants by Maje

You source NFT artworks for Q9 Capital and exhibit them at the Q9 Hub space. For someone new to digital art, can you elaborate a little on what this involves?
It’s been quite a steep learning curve for me as well, having to learn about NFTs. What is involved at the Q9 Hub is to forge partnerships with market places, art fairs, as well as art platforms. It’s also involved learning about blockchain and the metaverse and what digital art really is.

For any beginner to any sort of art, including NFTs, the first thing you have to do is to do your research, your due diligence, to find out exactly what sort of digital art you want to collect. Also, because with NFTs, there so many different kinds. If you’re looking for NFT art, that’s very different from looking for NFTs with utility in the metaverse. And that too is very different from looking for PFPs (profile photos), the avatars that a lot of people have – such as profile photos on WhatsApp and Facebook. Those all have very different functions and purposes from each other. So before you buy an NFT, you should think carefully about what type you want to collect.

“For any beginner new to NFTs, the first thing is to do your due diligence. To find out exactly what sort of digital art you want to collect”

You were Vice-chair of Fundraising for Operation Smile Greater China for five years, as well as the Sheen Hok Charitable Foundation. What did that entail?
Both charities provide medical attention and support to the underprivileged and those in need. Op-Smile was specifically for those born with facial deformities such as cleft lips and palates. I am very lucky to have friends in the art world who are willing to donate artworks for the annual fundraiser. Last year, we had a Xu Hongfei sculpture that was donated by an anonymous donor that was auctioned for more than twice its original estimate.

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Christine Chiu wearing Blazer by Vivienne Tam

You have a BA in History in French Literature. Who are your favourite writers (especially French) and why?
The first writer that comes to mind is Baudelaire because his works are romantic and melancholic, and his use of language evokes a lot of nostalgia and longing. Then, I also thought of (Albert) Camus. The way he captures that nonchalance and malaise so well.

The other author I thought of is Gertrude Stein. Even though she’s not French, she lived in France for a long time. She was such a trailblazer, and also a collector. What I loved most, is that in her work, she also talks about her experiences living in pre-second-world-war Paris and meeting all those great artists, like Matisse. Her home was the kind of a salon where everyone gathered.

If you could go back in time and meet anyone from the past, who would it be?
That’s a no brainer – Eleanor d’Aquitane. I’m a history buff and she lived in the Middle Ages, which to me was a fascinating period in history. She was a queen but she lived among enemies who wanted to kill her and her husband imprisoned her. She had two marriages, 10 or 12 kids, and even Richard the Lionheart was her son. She also took part in the Crusades. She was truly formidable – really resilient and intelligent.

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Christine Chiu wearing Namari off-the-shoulder linen and organic cotton-blend twill midi dress by Mara Hoffman, courtesy of NET-A-PORTER

What was the last music you downloaded/listened to?
Eroica, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 3.

What’s the biggest challenge to lifting art appreciation in Hong Kong?
I believe it’s getting people to stop and look – to make time for art. Hong Kong is such a busy city, people are always in a rush. The city does have some very good public art, whether it be local or international artists, but most people don’t realise this. Education is key to lifting art appreciation, be it through schools, public talks or community events.

What do you always keep in your fridge?
Hummous, comté cheese and Chardonnay.

What three words best describe you?
Optimistic. Extroverted. Adventurous.

Thank you.

 

(Venue: Ora-Ora and Touch Gallery; Photographer: Jack Law; Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma; Videographer: Jackie Chan Hair & makeup: Heti Tsang)