It’s that time again: "The zoo" (said in that very specific fashion publicist vocal fry) that is fashion week has begun. Today it comes to a close in New York City and then exhaustingly embarks on its European tour, but those who are truly legit also know that Hong Kong is another fashion hub that deserves your attention. Only in its third season, CENTRESTAGE, presented by Hong Kong Trade Development Council, is already known as Asia’s major fashion fair, showcasing talent both emerging and established, in Asia’s flourishing fashion scene. The week-long extravaganza, which featured more than 230 brands, just wrapped, and we were there to fill you in on what went down the runway. (Because, reminder, there are sartorial-slaying cities on earth besides NYC, London, Paris, Milan!)
One trippy CENTRESTAGE highlight was Hong Kong-based IDISM, an emerging brand, that was aptly selected as one of Vogue Italia’s Talents in 2017. Co-founded by Cyrus Wong and Julio Ng, the duo, as they told us, creates “for the spontaneous lifestyle of the contemporary city woman.” And they really nailed it in the robo-chic department with their Spring 2019 collection. An army of moody models, sporting slicked-back locks and Oakley-like sunglasses, stormed the runway in flowing ombré pieces in vibrant colors like electric yellow. Eye candy highlights: a crepe de chine ombré dress in raspberry hues and a killer lime green cape-poncho in vixen vinyl. Often paired with leggings (and arm tights!) in quirky prints and the aforementioned sunnies, these otherwise pretty pieces came with a punch. IDISM’s joyful chaos of a collection would fit nicely on an Opening Ceremony rack, and the duds are perfect for Stella McCartney fans who are looking to punk up their closets.
FACETASM has never been for the faint of fashion-y heart. For the lauded Japanese brand’s maximalist Spring 2019 collection, Hiromichi Ochiai kept it cuckoo in true FACETASM form. In other words, disco confetti flooded the floor as models hit the runway in lunatical looks. Things are never quite as they seem when it comes to Ochiai’s disruptive designs. For example, what seemed to be a purple jacquard dress from the front was a flowing coral dress in the back. Several numbers were a total St. Mark’s Place circa the ‘80s explosion—A Trash and Vaudeville X Search and Destroy punk-rocker collab if you will. It was confusing and it was thrilling and so very hip. Also, hip-as-a-new-Blood Orange track was the D-ANTIDOTE’s show, who collaborated once again with Fila for a fully-fledged, ready-to-wear collection. The South Korean brand, mega-popular with cool kids and K-Pop stars, showcased a collection heavily inspired by ‘80s and ‘90s American sportswear: windbreakers with matching jogger pants, striped nautical polos, fanny packs and lots of neon. Also, backwards berets, suspenders, oversized pants. Originally marketed as a menswear label, these genderfluid styles would’ve been a match made in heaven for Aaliyah and TLC. A crazy, sexy, cool collection, indeed.
Ms MIN was a sophisticated standout at CENTRESTAGE. Born and raised in China mainland, Min Liu’s brand represents the “independent woman,” and says the brand’s philosophy is “Simplicity with a twist, romanticism with an edge, modernity with classicism.” Mission accomplished, because what came down the runway was just that. There was a languid easiness in the shapes of the designs. Looks were luxurious with a side of sporty via sneakers. Liu’s Spring 2019 collection seemed to be an ode to her native China, especially with the prints of bamboo and traditional paintings of gardens and gazebos. There were several highlights: a tufted fleece top with a yellow floral print was paired with jade-colored velour track pants. But the head-turner-of-them-all was worn on the sole male model: A navy, deconstructed “changshan” look (a traditional Chinese dress worn by men) trimmed with long tassels reminiscent of traditional Chinese knots or lanterns. Overall, a memorable, magical show sans spectacle. Ms MIN for the win!
And finally, there was promising newcomer TAK LEE. A 2017 graduate of London College of Fashion, Lee produced a shadowy show with a severely sculptural collection that would fit nicely on a rack next to Commes Des Garçons and/or Noir Kei Ninomiya. With mainly a black and ivory color palette, it was all about the come-closer details and the purposeful imperfections. Crinkled cotton fabrics and deconstructed garments maintained intrigue. The collection, with waistcoats and duster coats, gave somber turn-of-the-century vibes, but Lee spiced it up for today in a DIY fashion—pockets appear at odd angles; seams are left frayed. Sure, it's a Spring collection, but there’s nothing bright about this, and it’s all about those love, AKA need, jackets.
Whether the collections slayed with simplicity or got us in a tizzy with the zaniest numbers, these Asia-based designers are bonafide sartorial stars. We cannot wait to return to the fashion capital that is Hong Kong next year for CENTRESTAGE. Apologies in advance, NYFW.