Lalaa? Your name is Lalaa? That’s strange for me – how can a man call himself Lalaa? I first met Lalaa a couple of months ago on an occasion related to my “real occupation” which is totally unrelated to fashion, magazines or art, but is something more “serious”, colourless, tedious and a right boor for sure. It wasn’t just his name that immediately grabbed my attention, but also his purple coloured hair. I was thinking; wow! This guy must have an interesting and eccentric life, and yeah, I was correct, again! I’m not always correct, but most of time I am – as I said, I’m good at observing and reading people.
His image made more sense to me after he explained he is a fashion design student in an art institute in Hong Kong, and also participates in some jobs that involve photography, styling for local artists and magazines. Fashion design? Really? That’s so cool! I used to dream of becoming a fashion designer when I was a little girl as my peers always turned to me to be their “fashion consultant” as they consider I have good taste. However, in the end I didn’t go for art or design, but chose a business subject instead for my university study even though I used to draw well when I was in secondary school and many of my teachers had expected I would go for art.
But anyway, yes, Lalaa…the Pink boy.
We started talking about the more reputable fashion design schools, especially in London. I began by saying that the best one is undoubtedly the fashion design relative disciplines in Central Saint Martin. However, he immediately retorted and asked me if I knew Alexander McQueen, and I answered –sure, of course I know him. He then explained – in the era of Alexander McQueen, Central Saint Martin was indeed the best institute for studying fashion of its day, but now his instructors told him that the London Collage of Fashion has since overtaken Central St. Martin in terms of cutting edge fashion education. What struck me however, was that when he began talking about fashion which is clearly his passion and forte, he immediately transformed into a confident, assertive, animated and impassioned speaker.
As I began to meet with him more frequently and got more familiar with him, I witnessed him change his hair colour from purple to pink. So one day, I stopped him and said: Hey boy, I’d like to make an appointment with you for a photo shooting. “You want me to take pictures of you, right?” He asked. I laughed: “No, quite the opposite actually, I want you to be my model and I want to interview you, come to the meeting room and let me show you something.” I brought my laptop into my office meeting room and showed him the website I just setup and told him that in the section of “the Street Stylist” I like to find people who are living in Hong Kong who are charming, intelligent, and lead an interesting life, perhaps a stylist or an artist, even a businessman – since the definition of a stylist for me is a person who expresses their own style whether in their professional work or simply in their life, and I want to promote them to let more people know about them – diamonds need a stage to shine on, got it?
On interview day, Lalaa was late; he kept me waiting for half an hour (only half an hour, so I knew I was lucky, hah!) – I was always late when I was a student as well, I just never liked arriving early – perhaps, people who are more artistic just like being “fashionably late”? Ha! Lalaa was very busy for the whole afternoon, and kept answering phone-calls and replying to messages. I then had a walk around the street and shot some pictures while interviewing him at the same time – I like bringing my street stylists into the street to shoot on a beautiful sunny day, I just like the feeling of shooting the stylist bathing in the sunshine , and I capture some of them with the rays – that’s why I named it “the Street Stylist”. Then, the interview started:
Lalaa: I’m a 21 years old student, I own my own studio, I’m a photographer, and a stylist. Actually, I don’t really tell people what my occupation is as I’m still studying, but more professionally speaking, I would call myself a stylist and a photographer.
Lalaa: Hmm, I just started being a stylist last year. I worked for a professional stylist as an assistant. And she taught me a lot even though I only worked for her for two months – She is kind of a harsh person you know, and I had never been pushed down and treaded upon so much. So I soon quit the job and promptly established my own studio with my family’s support. When I started taking this job I realised how toilsome this job actually is, but at the same time I really enjoy the feeling of success this job brings me.
the little Red: I’m personally concerned more about western fashion, like the people and the stuff you see on runways in any top fashion week – London, Paris, New York etc. But what is your style? How would you describe your own style?
Lalaa: To be honest, I don’t really know what my style is. I think I’m quite adaptable, even chameleon like…. whether I wear a skirt or a man’s suit, I can handle all of them nicely, even just wearing a hoodie – a kind of American street style, I can also carry it well. And it’s not just me saying so – I always hear people around me giving me such compliments. But I have some favourite fashion brands, such as Rick Owens which always use dark, black colours I like, and Givenchy, as you know this brand’s stuff is quite pricy for a student but once I find something I like, if I can afford it I spare no expense to get what I want. However, I don’t really like to pigeonhole or limit myself to only one fashion brand – you know every brand has its own style, but I don’t like following its style, instead I prefer giving it a twist and adding something different to combine with it into my own style.
Lalaa: Actually, before I became a stylist I always wanted to be an editor of magazines since I studied graphic design first and then later I changed to fashion design, but at that time I still didn’t know what I really wanted to do in the future until I met my master – a stylist called Inggrad, who taught me a lot and guided me. Frankly, I don’t want to only be a one dimensional stylist, I aim to be a multi-skilled stylist who knows photography and filming – as I know it’s very difficult to be successful in Hong Kong if you’re single-skilled.
Lalaa: Hah! I didn’t start colouring my hair to varicolored only recently, but I started it when I was little, and dressed myself like a monster. My parents have long since gotten used to my behaviour – for example I often wore pink Converse shoes and blue contact lenses when I was a secondary student. Fortunately, my parents are quite open-minded. They know what I really want to do, so they are not against it, but instead are supportive. Since I started my career recently, they realised what I’ve been doing is actually the right thing, and it does pay off, at least for me and the life I’ve chosen it has.
Lalaa: It depends on which region we’re talking about, if in Hong Kong, it must be my master Inggrad. She didn’t actually ask me to pursue this career, but she taught me a lot of things in terms of technique and skills, even the rules and principles of being a good man. Apart from her, I do have other people I like or inspire me. But actually, I always get inspiration from the Internet, magazines, or even people I meet.
In the break of the interview, Lalaa asked me if I wanted to come with him as he was going to pass a pair of shoes to his master who was quite near to the set we were at – so I went to meet his master with him. Inggrad was well dressed up as she was running to a university for a function that afternoon. She was very nice to let me take pictures of her while she was waiting for a taxi – She is very professional, I just got three shots of her, but all perfect. Thank you for your talent.
Lalaa: [Laugh] Hmm…I don’t really like a special style, but if I have to pick one I would say: Unique – like you said you like watching fashion shows, but there are so many brands designing similar clothing every year that you can see on runways, but if there is a brand design that is different, I would like it. Take men’s wear for example; when people talk about men’s wear most think about suits. But that’s why I love Rick Owens who does not subscribe to nor follow this “fixed trend”, who has a unique Cozy Boy style – you can wear his designed outfits either grandly or casually, and both work perfectly. I love his cutting, layering – even a simple T-shirt, Rick Owens can make it original and special – that’s the style I like! I never follow what the majority of people like.
Lalaa: Unfortunately, Rick Owens has become “popular” and you now see many people wearing Rick Owens in the streets in Hong Kong, but most of them can’t live up to the outfit’s design or just doesn’t suit them, but they wear it anyway because they want to follow the celebrity they like, even though they can’t fill his shoes. For example, Edison; he was very famous before and he is also a fashion icon, but people wore what he wore and thought they could become Edison by wearing the same outfits – are you kidding me? It’s totally NOT! But this is Hong Kong style, always following, that’s why I’m studying fashion design which means to lead and never follow. I’m now checking out the trends in 2014/15.
the little Red: I know you’re very young, but you already own your own studio, and have been doing some professional photography work for some local artists and magazines, even fashion brands. So what do you expect from doing these kinds of jobs? What have you gotten out of it so far?
Lalaa: To be honest, I’m quite ahead of my schoolmates, and I regularly get lots of compliments from my tutors – so some of my classmates might envy me due to my accomplishments so far, but I know how much effort I’ve been putting in. I didn’t expect I could get much when I first created my studio since the original purpose of setting up the studio was just for my friends and working partners to have a gathering place to work together. Like the work I’ve done – photography for local magazines, even world-class magazines like ELLE, and fashion brands, video making, advertisement making, you name it. But here, I’m not saying I’m successful at the moment, but what my career has achieved has already surpassed my expectations. You know I wasn’t born in a rich family, just a family of comfortable means. Even now, I don’t really care about money or material success from any job I take at this stage, instead I focus on getting more valuable experience and just enjoying the work process itself, to me that is enjoying the feeling of success. I’m so glad when I hear people say they really like the productions I have done – that’s what I have gotten out of my work so far.
Lalaa: I’m actually doing fashion branding, not only fashion design, but I’m focusing on branding. But in the future after I complete my studies, I want to be a creative director – control every step of producing, like styling, lighting, shooting set etc. This is what I really want to do. I will setup my own company and work with people around me who I know are talented.
Lalaa: Sure, I will employ you, you can help me manage my website, blogging etc, how much (do) you need? Hah!
P.S. Lalaa’s fans, please help me to keep an eye on him, let’s see if he is a man of his word. Hah!
Lalaa: I don’t want to force my style and my own stuff onto everyone, rather, I prefer to let them to search for what they really like and to find themselves. For example, the best way to teach a person how to swim, is to just put them into a swimming pool, then they will get the feeling of swimming and learn by themselves. This is just like eating, you have to try, and eat different cuisines to find out what kind of food you like, right? Art is something that can’t be taught, you have to read more and see more and learn by yourself. I never force people to accept my stuff – honestly, I hate being copied as I know I’m unique, and everyone is unique, but you need to find out who you are first.
the little Red: Okay, Lalaa thank you for your time for the shoot and the interview with me today, I really appreciate it. Let’s talk about your fashion design work and future plans next time. But here is an extra question for you: Lalaa, every stylist needs to score my website, that is: Do you like red-closet? On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, which score would you give the little Red for performing her work today?
Lalaa: Haha! Yes, I like your website, I will give you a 7! (Really, that’s quite high!) Yes, but I suggest you need to update it more frequently, and improve your skills. (Skills? In terms of…?) I mean if you really like fashion, you’d better read and see more, and upload more content such as what your daily dress, the stuff you like, etc.
I have reconsidered my take on Lalaa. I initially thought he was just a fancy flower-boy, but in fact, he is very smart and articulate, who knows exactly what is he doing and where he is going; he even knows how to achieve his life goals. We talked a lot after the interview, and I got to know more about him. If you’re a fan of Lalaa, you might have known he previously suffered an accident. So my next interview with Lalaa will release more questions about that accident and some other questions which I think some of you guys may be interested in including what kinds of girls he likes. What do you think? Oh dear, I’ve caught Lalaa-fever after writing this article about him.
Called: La Cornelius
Location: Hong Kong
Occupation: Student / Stylist
Set: Causeway Bay, H.K.