During the early days of it colonial history, Hong Kong Island was the outpost to buy and trade common necessities; from Himalayan salts and spices, to the luminescent silks of Siam. In modern times, however, HKG has become a city where visitors deplane with the sole intention of spending their excess money on fantastical acquisitions, whence the world of luxury goods is the drug to achieve this high; from exotic leather handbags, to astronomical priced time pieces, take your pick, this city has all that money can purchase. It thus, should come as no surprise, to note that all of Asia’s high fashion regional offices are headquartered in this city of variegated brilliance. By the same token, most of the flagship stores that can be found here are the largest and most well stocked in the Asean region. So without further ado, let us take a window-shopping sneak peak at the most chichi of them all.
At the very center of Central, the milieu where you ought to be if toting paper bags with the name of the designer you just walked out of is how you like to be seen strutting the pavements, is the behemoth leather institution and the original taste maker of stylish travel, Louis Vuitton; whence the façade is enrobed in glass and backlit LEDs, giving a kaleidoscopic exhibition for the passers-by to admire in stupor. The stockpile here is impressive, and encompasses almost everything that is latest by the house of LV.
Also in the same locale is Shanghai Tang’s largest store. Housed in a historic building and decorated in the style of 1930s Shanghai chic, the label’s famous traditional Chinese-inspired clothes can be espied and tried here. Despite the obvious heritage quality of the designs and patterns, the options are very wearable as they borrow elements from the days of yore and inject it with a modern century sensibility; the house’s signature Mao and Tang jackets, and the button knot dresses favoured by cultured ladies, are habitually flying off the racks and taken to the changing rooms by eager fans of the brand. Other things to look and possibly pick up as gifts include handbags, shoes, accessories, and a cornucopia of household items.
With an ivory filigree front, Harvey Nichols, the premier British department store, is a sight hard to miss. A popular destination for the well-heeled shoppers, the collections in this modest sized establishment are well edited; it was as if a Vogue editor had done the merchandising herself. With a mix of established and niche labels of the highest caliber – no less – it’s practically a one-stop destination for your entire wardrobe.
Moving on, IFC Mall, nestled between the two stratospheric IFC towers, is a shopping mall with a view; think glamorous water scenes of the Hong Kong bay. It’s also a great place to replenish your energy, as it is boiling over with choices of gourmet eateries. Once satiation has been achieved, digest the calories slowly by perusing through a dozen or so of the over two hundred international brands that is installed in this gargantuan compound. To refine your search, the most interesting and exclusive boutiques addressed here are the following: Georg Jensen (the Scandinavian luxury lifestyle brand is great at churning out sculptural silver pitchers, simply out of this beyond this time); Vertu (if gold-plated and diamond studs are some of the things you require your mobile phones to possess than do not walk past without giving the glass stands a good checking); Bang & Olufsen (futuristic home phones, impressive sound systems, jaw-dropping display screens, B&O is the Apple of the home entertainment systems); for fashion, there is Lanvin (dainty and streamline French apparel for the well-to-do set who want to look expensive but still remain modest); Loro Piana (greatly lauded for their Italian cashmere and sumptuous wool, one stroke will lull you to swipe that credit card); and 3.1 Phillip Lim (more colorful than Alexander Wang, but equally laid-back in the insouciant chic style of lower New York).
Next up is The Landmark; an ultra-designer complex housing the most extravagant names in the industry, a place, in short, where discerning customers promenade to and fro in a state of indecision. Stationed spectacularly at the front, is the grande dame of classic and refinement, Chanel. Its signature ivory façade, riveted with strips of white LED lights, is as simple as the brand’s little black jacket itself, and is as recognizable as the No.5 perfume bottle that solidified the brand’s global status. The inside is plush beyond measure and incredibly spacious, showcasing the clothes and accoutrements of the women-who-lunch to perfection.
Also within the exclusive manifold is the ultimate feminine brand, Dior. The grey cut with silver interior, and the scintillation of a ceiling punctuated with LED stars, evokes the image of a modern Versailles dressing-room; wherein the latest ready-to-wear collection, leather goods, and accessories worthy of a countess, are arranged out in such a style so to emphasize its grandiosity. Another superbly feminal label is Elie Saab. Delicate detailing, exquisite embroidery, and ethereal fabrics that just seem to float in the air, the elegance of his creations, especially the evening gowns, cannot be compared or descried using moral language. For the more whimsical and raw personality, the mavericks of the shopping spectrum that is, Alexander McQueen is the outrageously cool boutique to go nuts in; the entire range whether it be a fur coat or a heavily embellished ring, seem fit for a tea party in Wonderland.
Other notable trademarks to visit in The Landmark are: the high-end stiletto brand, Manolo Blahnik (the actual shoes that the real life Editor from the Devil Wears Prada slips into); Berluti (essentially the Christian Louboutin for men); Corneliani (structured suits for the man weary of his Armani-clad peers); Loewe (the bag shop for women who thinks Gucci is so everywhere); Rick Owens (for the gentleman and lady that like to challenge the accepted standards of clothing, albeit accomplished in the most respectable and expensive way possible); Chopard (for the patronages that find Cartier, well, bland); and Vacheron Constantin (superfine watches with price tags that can reach two Omegas).
For premium skincare shopping, head over to the mammoth in-door bazaar, Pacific Place. The Beauty Gallery is teeming with redolence and maquillages of the grandest craft and newest technology. Many stand alone, flag ship stores align the glittering arcades: La Mer (famous for their “miracle cream” via a variety of kelp that can only be harvested seasonally); Nars (what the professionals put on their faces during off duty hours); Yves Saint Laurent (sensual and bold colors for the young at heart); and La Prairie (caviar extract with a dusting of precious metals justify the number of digits it is charging you for).
And there you have it, a sneak preview of the ritzy offerings from the king of gaudy, Hong Kong. For easy access to all of the fashionable shops and whatnot that take your fancy, book into a business hotel that is centrally located in Kowloon, such as Novotel Nathan Road, so that you don’t have to lug those shopping bags with the dear names emblazoned on them too far and for too long; think of it this way: if you get a blister from over exertion today, then how will you fit into those fine pair of Roger Vivier tomorrow?