5 names from CENTRESTAGE to look out for
Amid all that hoorah at CENTRESTAGE, we sieved out five designers that stand out from the crowd.

From Sept 4 to 7 2019, CENTRESTAGE ran its fourth edition at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). The premier fashion event organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and sponsored by Create Hong Kong (CreateHK) of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region brimmed with local and overseas fashion talents and engaging events. A total of 240 fashion brands from 23 countries were present at the showcase, which attracted close to 7,000 buyers from 74 countries and regions.

Through all the hype of the four-day event, we sifted out the names that have us nodding in approval.

Anais Mak
The Hong-Kong born and raised designer is a force to be reckoned with. Ever since launching her eponymous label ANAÏS JOURDEN in Hong Kong in 2012, she has not only cemented her modern feminine aesthetic and vision, but has already gone on to show at Paris Fashion Week and most recently, CENTRESTAGE Hong Kong.
Mak showcased her Pre-Spring 2020 collection as one of the two brands under CENTRESTAGE ELITES Opening Gala Show — the highlight event of CENTRESTAGE. With her unexpected yet artful use of smocking, ruffles and pleating, the collection offered Mak’s rendition of ’90s silhouettes and a new embodiment of the modern woman. It ultimately echoed her solid brand philosophy of contorting the classic feminine look, rather than completely reinventing it.
Apart from her graceful and graphic designs that have wowed international audiences, perhaps what is most alluring about Mak is her collected and honest disposition. During a sit-down Q&A session discussing the young creative forces reinventing international runway, Mak revealed intimate childhood moments that have shaped her into the designer she is today.
“My passion for fashion started really simple — I liked dressing up with my friends and I liked looking at magazines that my mother subscribed to like Vogue,” she said with a smile. “But at some point, I really wanted to be closer to the universe that I have been exposed to,” she added. That desire led her to pursue fashion design at Studio Bercot in Paris, and the rest is history.
Joseph Altuzarra
The image of the ALTUZARRA woman is a distinct one, with its designs worn by names such as Beyonce, Rihanna and Michelle Obama. She is confident, in control and sophisticated — a manifestation of Joseph Altuzarra’s interest in the “pragmatic side of fashion”. “I was really interested in dressing real women,” he said during a sit-down Q&A organised by CENTRESTAGE.
His philosophy of balancing desirability and functionality weaved through his Pre-Spring 2020 collection, which he showed at CENTRESTAGE ELITES (alongside ANAÏS JOURDEN). This time, the ALTUZARRA woman was on an adventure in the deserts of the American West. Lighting was warm, the music riveting and the colours rich.
“I draw very much on my multi-cultural background in my design and in my process. I’ve had to question my identity a lot and where I belong, because I come from a lot of different places and heritages. I think a lot about what is French, what is American, what is Chinese… in the end it becomes a patchwork of references. To me, that feels very modern because that is what the world is about and where the world is going,” he said.

The eloquent designer was also candid about his experience growing up as a gay teenager, and the struggles of finding role models to look up to. “Tom Ford to me represented everything that I wanted to be. He was really handsome, successful, and the head of a big company,” he chuckled.

 

But as someone who is now role model to aspiring designers worldwide, Altuzarra believes that all one really needs is “a little fire in your belly”.

Mountain Yam
With a barrage of colours and a slew of Morroco-inspired motifs, 112 mountainyam only wishes to inspire women in one way — to be true to themselves.
During an exclusive interview, the founder of the Hong Kong-based label, Mountain Yam, revealed that he drew heavily from his recent trip to Morocco for his S/S ’20 collection titled “I Still Believe in Love”. “We actually put some elements from the trip and into the collection to develop something new — more colourful and energetic.” Elements included the heart shape, which he encountered many times throughout the trip.
Designing for the multi-faceted woman who balances work, social and family life, Yam ensures that his designs are made to be mixed and matched for various occasions. However, the eclecticism and versatility stems from Yam’s desire to escape. “As a designer in Hong Kong, I always feel pressured to stay in one point. There are so many people and I don’t always want to talk to them. In fact, I always want to escape from people.” As such, he strives to introduce natural elements into his designs as they make him happier.
While he boasts an impressive list of accolades, such as making it to Perspective Magazine’s “Next Generation of Design Talent — 40 under 40” in 2014 and being selected to represent Hong Kong as part of the Belt and Road International Young Fashion Designers Showcase Tour, Yam says his proudest accomplishment to date is seeing the expression of women when trying on his clothes.
Nicole Mak
The designer’s five-piece menswear collection for the 9th Hong Kong Young Knitwear Designers’ Contest titled “Jupiter” was an ode to her love for astronomy.
The fashion and textile design student from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University explored colours and textures that mimicked the surface of the planet, resulting in ethereal drapey and layered looks. Accessorised with round shades and canes, there was a certain retro vibe that drew us in.
It came as no surprise when Mak took home the first prize of the 9th Hong Kong Young Knitwear Designers’ Contest, walking away with a cash prize of HKD$35,000. Presented by the Knitwear Innovation and Design Society (KIDS), the competition not only hopes to provide a platform for young designers to showcase their creativity, but also ultimately aims to promote knitwear culture in Hong Kong and to demonstrate its relevance in a contemporary context.
Maddie Williams
With her braided locks and teal eyebrows, Maddie Williams already looks like she has a story to tell. And so she did with her vibrant five-piece collection for the Redress Design Award 2019.

The voluminous silhouettes and rich colours was a portrayal of the collective grief that people are feeling about the deteriorating planet, and at the same time an articulation that eco-conscious fashion can be exciting.

 

The fashion design graduate from the Edinburgh College of Art, who previously interned at Vivienne Westwood, incorporated deadstock fabric, end-of-roll waste and unsold clothing waste for her pieces, subsequently bagging the first prize for the Redress Design Award. The competition is now the biggest sustainable fashion design one in the world, with over 180 alumni designers from 32 regions to date.

With the successful closure of CENTRESTAGE on Sept 7, we can only say one thing — till next time, CENTRESTAGE (Sept 2-5 2020)!

 

Find out more at centrestage.com.hk