Hong Kong designers brings East meets West to New York Fashion Week

NEW YORK (AFP) - Three leading Hong Kong designers sent a riot of colour and tailoring down the New York runway in a push to broaden their US client base and put the tiny territory more firmly on the global fashion map.

The catwalk show at Moynihan Station, one block from Madison Square Garden, followed by a pop-up showroom in Soho marks the first time in 12 years that the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is sending local designers to take part in New York's fashion week.

"I feel so excited," said British-trained Polly Ho, who set up her label Loom Loop two years ago. "It's the first time for me in New York and I feel this city is lovely, people are lovely too."

Her capsule autumn/winter 2016 collection was inspired by the Chinese legend Butterfly Lovers and showcased a London cool - a sporty androgynous of butterfly print and oversized butterfly accessories.

There were multicoloured butterfly printed silk leggings and dresses, jackets with split level hems, and oversized butterfly hats, necklaces and ear-rings in a fun, quirky original look.

Ho made liberal use of Canton silk, a heritage fabric, and used plastic bottles, which could not otherwise be recycled, to cut out the shapes of butterflies to make the prints.

"Our brand is more East meets West and West meets East," Ho told AFP backstage before her New York debut. She summed up the Loom Loop woman as educated, open-minded and intellectual.

"They're independent and want to have some statement, a different style," she explained. "This is my muse!" she said.

Currently her clothes are available in Hong Kong and Singapore, so Ho is hoping to snap up some new buyers through her catwalk presentation and the Soho showroom.

The last time the HKTDC brought designers to a New York fashion week was in 2003, and they return at a time when there is ongoing fascination in all things China in the United States.

"This time we try to focus more on business meetings," Mr Ralph Chow, HKTDC regional director for the Americas, told AFP.

The showroom, which will run until Feb 13, will feature the work of the three designers, as well as other brands and accessory lines, Mr Chow said.

"We are now more towards promoting the unique image of Hong Kong, which is basically East meets West," he said.

Hidy Ng, whose clothes are already stocked in boutiques in Beverly Hills and elsewhere across the world, earned warm applause for her collection tailored to the executive with a feminine French twist.

"We call it unruly luxury, so you will see black and white and gold and then it's very feminine and it has a lot of layers," she said.

She showcased wool capes with a ruffled trim, a belted jacket with fur panel and a stunning ivory jacquard dress with ostrich feather detail, and net skirts puffing out the back.

"My lady is very executive. She loves fashion," Ng explained. Her client is confident and arty. "I hope some stores love our collection."

Male interest came in the form of an assured collection from Harrison Wong, already a well-established designer, who mined the 1970s and 1980s for his smart suiting, bell-bottomed and pleated pants.

It was a riot of texture featuring oversized and sharply cut zipper coats, hoods, hats seared with safety pins and bomber jackets.

"I'm doing something very international," he told AFP. "My clothes basically are urban male, so Hong Kong is very cosmopolitan and New York is also very cosmopolitan." The only difference is the weather, he joked, as New York braced to spend a long holiday weekend shivering well below freezing.

"It's very cold, we don't dress that heavy," he said.