Let's be honest here: we all judge a book by it's cover. It comes in many forms: from eating macarons for their cute colors to swiping right to that guy on Tinder purely because of his sexy ab shots (guilty!). The truth is that many of our decisions in life are undeniably based on appearance. That holds particularly true for the act of cosmetics shopping. I can't tell you how many times I've stared lustily at the gorgeously packaged (yet extortionately priced) face products at Aesop, or envied the women who came out of Chanel Beauty carrying a bottle of signature perfume, whether it be No. 5 or Noir.
With my obsession with minimal packaging, I initially found it difficult to purchase simply packaged cosmetics in Hong Kong, with its taste tending towards girly Japanese/Korean makeup. It seems like the inverse law is at work in the beauty world - the lesser the embellishments, the steeper the price. However, I got lucky with the Japanese brand Muji, famous for their simple homeware and gel pens that Asian teenagers fawn over. Muji also produces great makeup and skincare line. With a price point comparable to drugstore products, it surprised me with its quality (and beautiful packaging of course). That their products are relatively fragrance-free is also a plus.
Of all the products I purchased in my skincare shopping binge, the best was the face soap, which generated a rich lather, and the toning water, which did a great job of removing excess dirt from the skin. Whilst the moisturizing cream was a little too thick, the face scrub could have had a denser and rougher consistency with greater exfoliating power. All in all, they were decent products worth the affordable price. I'm hoping that they'll be successful in alleviating my teenage breakouts that have persisted way too late into my teenage years for my taste, despite many different products over the years. Maybe less really is more.
MUJI FACE PRODUCTS
HIGH MOISTURE LIGHT TONING WATER
EYE MAKEUP REMOVER
SPF 50 SUNSCREEN
AVAILABLE AT MUJI STORES OR ONLINE
The practice of wandering stylishly around art galleries is ubiquitous in most major cities, save Hong Kong. Despite living in such close proximity to so many galleries, I rarely find the time to step foot into those hushed halls and appreciate their works of art. The same can be said for many Hong Kongers, which is why, sadly, our shopping malls receive exponentially more attention than our art.
However, there is the occasional exception - Art Basel being one of them. The renowned art fair brings contemporary work from all over the globe to a single, packed location, creating an artistic microcosm within three floors of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. Over the past weekend, Hongkongers flocked there to see the works of artists from Jenny Holzer to Takashi Murakami. Pieces ranged from thought-provoking to humorous and absurd, from Lee Wen's photography series depicting the artist covered in yellow paint, an exploration of ethnic identity, to the metallic sculpture of a woman rising from a Snickers bar. The star of the show was perhaps He Xiangyu's hyperrealistic sculpture resembling artist Ai Wei Wei lying on the floor. What may have been more intriguing was the reactions of the visitors that crowded around it quizzically, as if to determine whether the man was indeed a sculpture or a passed out remnant of Friday night out at the Lan Kwai Fong clubs.
Such works were characteristic of the extremities of artistic expression showcased, with the kitsch as well as the minimal (no surprises, my favorite). This creative diversity highlights the democratic nature of art - that there is truly something for everybody.
ART BASEL HONG KONG 2014
Of the many rites of passage we have growing up, prom is one of the most significant. Through the silver screen, we've vicariously experienced the excitement of donning a princess ball gown, receiving a beautiful corsage, and waltzing under a chintzy disco ball in the arms of your lover. Blame A Cinderella Story, Mean Girls or the countless other chick flicks for instilling such cheesy stereotypes in us. But voluminous tulle gowns are not for everybody, and you don't have to be a princess to go to prom.
As you might have ascertained from the tone of this blog, I am not really inclined towards pastel colors and mountains of chiffon. So whilst a search around Hong Kong and the traditional prom websites left me remaining dress-less, I had better luck on ASOS when I stumbled across the brand Solace. The London-based brand is best known for the elegant yet provocative construction of their garments, and their modern approach to evening wear. What they lack in sequins/lace/tulle, they make up for with graphic and contemporary cuts. With an emphasis on artfully plunging necklines, sharp cutouts and open backs, Solace redefines the idea of showing skin in a sophisticated and minimal way. These are dresses to incite double takes without the need for ostentatious details or conventional sex appeal.
Prom marks the remarkable transition from adolescence to adulthood, from school uniforms and bobby socks to independence. So to conclude the soporific, tumultuous, mundane, stressful and ultimately bittersweet experience that is high school, you might as well go out with a bang.
Lately, I've been roaming around PMQ - my friendly neighborhood creative center - in search of visual inspiration, aesthetic pleasure, and anything to delay revising for my final exams. It turns out procrastination can be productive after all, as I came across many intriguing designers in my exploration, one of them being HAK.
HAK, a clothing and accessories brand started by local Hong Kong designer Ling Wong, features garments in delicate yet sporty fabrics and futuristic prints. In addition to her line, Wong also produces custom items, amazing me with her deft ability to manipulate digital printing on any material. I was particularly smitten with a pair of black leather loafers (above) with a marble/smoke-like digital print, a futuristic take on the elegant shoe. The way in which Wong revamps classic shapes and silhouettes with modern prints and fabrics is perhaps HAK's greatest success. With all the garments produced in Hong Kong, you can be sure to have a quality statement piece that will last you a long time.
H202, 2/F, PMQ
35 ABERDEEN ST, CENTRAL