Saturday, 25 August 2007


I can not get style sense out of my life. Some find it interesting; some find it incomprehensible and yet others find it contradictory. For a woman who spends a large part of her present life in a remote area of South Africa, and living among tigers & African wildlife there, the image one most likely conjures of me is someone with plain t-shirts, sneakers and unkempt hair. Interestingly, I was mostly in that gear when I first started working in the fashion business in Italy, right after business school in the US.

I always loved fashion, or rather, style and beauty. Cats and many animals are beautiful and that is one of the reasons I love cats. In the period when China was most boring in terms of style, I used to sew and later design my own clothes when everyone else was still wearing blue and green Mao uniforms. I even got bashed in university for wearing something too “risqué”. I tried to enrol in fashion school after I moved to Europe but was found to have no great talent in this field. Therefore I decided to pursue fashion from business perspective after a MBA degree.

One of the leftover style sense from business school at Wharton was T-shirts and sneakers. But not all T-shirts are the same and not sneakers are the same. However, after I was asked a few times if I was a student by kind and often doting Italians, I decided to invest in a totally different wardrobe to match my newly acquired position as Licensing Manager of Fila Sports. The transformation made all my Italian friends proud and I indeed blended into Italian society very quickly, with my honey brown sheep skin coat, and fine wool Etro scarf, etc.

I found Italian fashion beautiful and classy, one of the reasons I wanted to work in Italy and in Italian fashion. Italians are stylish, almost all of them are. Italians proudly told me: “We (Italians) are all artists!” and I agree with them. There is intrinsic style in the everyday life of every Italian, and they do not follow fashion. But after spending some time there, I started to notice something similar between the Italians and the Chinese, not least in their personality and cultures, but also in style. Granted the Italians are artists and have great sense of style but I had a hard time telling them apart from their back. They all loved the English country style- Barbour coat is a prized item. They loved a good pair of Levis too. In the end, I could conjure up the stylish but typical Italian look much in the same way as I could conjure up a typical but unstylish Chinese look from before the 1990s.

London was therefore an eye opener in the true sense of fashion. One can not ignore fashion and style. Not much of a TV junkie, I can not say anything about the TV but what to buy and what to wear is almost in everyday’s and every paper and magazine. The iconic Kate Moss, born in the year of the Tiger much to my delight, is followed intensely by women of all ages. So is Vicky Pollard. London is indeed the centre of fashion and style, and in fact, individuality. I rather admire the girls bearing their long legs in the starkest rainy winter day, wearing the smallest mini one can find.

But it is in Buenos Aires, I find style, beauty and creativity. The majestic palatial buildings from a bygone age of prosperity often evokes in me a great sense of pity and longing-I wondered what was the root cause for its decline. The inimitable Tango only deepens that sense due to its sensual beauty yet dignity and grace. And the fashion designs! They are just unmatched. The items (clothing, jewelry, décor items etc. ) are often beautifully crafted, yet simple and creative, which evokes an long Italian tradition. Despite my life at a wildlife reserve, Buenos Aires and its designs are just something I can not bypass. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the pesos have been devaluated so shopping in BA continues to be a pleasure this August.

This is one of the few small luxuries I still keep, since I started the Chinese Tiger Reintroduction project which has practically consumed my whole life. Since I spend a lot of time at Laohu Valley Reserve in South Africa, so as to not let those beautiful pieces go waste, I now dress up for TigerWoods, Madonna, Cathay and 327 every day! These beauties surely appreciate the Buenos Aires Style since 327 and Cathay had a good Tango lately!