As a run-up to our ‘Feel Good Series’ HULA Happenings event, co-hosted by The R Collective and featuring Adele Leung, we caught up with Adele at the HULA Warehouse to find out more about her role as a female mentor and image-maker.
Adele is a personal stylist and body confidence presenter. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she spent time in Canada as a young adult, and worked as an assistant buyer for a luxury retailer, before coming back to Hong Kong 22 years ago. Adele now runs a successful visual consultancy Adele Leung, with an extensive client list which include; Hong Kong Tatler, Milk X, Ming Pao Weekly, Being Ms Magazine, Hong Kong Landmark and HSBC with the hottest Hong Kong celebrity list; Alan Tam, Joey Yung, Cecilia So, Stephy, Kelly Chen, Vincy Chan and Jessica Hsuan. Passionate about empowering women to be more confident with their bodies, Adele has created a ‘Body Confident’ series where she invited women to partake in live workshops, offering advice on how to feel more comfortable in your own skin.
How did you get into styling?
I graduated with a Degree in Chinese Studies in Toronto, as I was pondering what to do with my life, I stumbled into a fancy fashion shop, applied for a job and they hired me. That was how I began in the fashion industry styling for my customers and I loved it.
What is your first ever encounter with style?
Parents brought me and my sister to shop for clothes, I meticulously chose a Peter Pan collar blouse in pale yellow with the softest cotton and tiny flowers on it, matched it with a pair of deep burgundy luxurious corduroys and a pair of deep brown suede Kickers shoes with laces. I must have been 7 and this was my favourite outfit for a long time.
You now also have a visual consultancy – tell us more about that?
It stroke me deeply that what I breathe as naturally, putting the harmony of style together, may be someone else’s nightmare. So I wanted to have a company that can support people (and companies) in solving their style problems in the most gentle and lasting way. I also want to change the perception that stylists or image consultants have to be critical and cruel to show that they know what they are doing. As personally, I would not take any harsh comments from anyone and this level of care and support actually allows my clients to open up themselves and have fun with clothes.
What is your most memorable moment in your career?
Every moment is very memorable when I feel I am another step deeper in commitment to the industry, opening up to more amazing people and opportunities. If I had to select one moment it would be getting married this March and utilising everything laid down and learned in my foundation to produce, direct, style, model, film, edit, script write and market this occasion of love for an online commercial, not to mention it is for a brand that I personally adore. It was very touching.
Wearing: Louis Vuitton set
You are pioneering for people to love themselves and their bodies more with your ‘body confidence’ program – tell us more about that;
I had very low self-esteem and self-confidence when I had depression in 2012, so I developed ways to support myself. I started with being simply very attentive to what my body needs and from hating my body and my face to presenting to large audiences and facing the public on screen with confidence today, so I know these methods work. And honestly, to patiently have love and care for my body is how I am deepening my own self worth every day—it is the greatest but also the most fundamental thing that any woman or man deserve, as it changes our everything in life.
What is the main problem with people being able to find their style?
When we are not taught to self-appreciate our value or confirm ourselves from young, we tend to need a lot of support and confirmation from the outside as adults. So if someone who gives us style advice is not entirely connected with themselves, their advice may come as criticism that makes us even more doubtful of ourselves. The main issue with style is, if we go from the outside in, i.e., trying to use clothing to give us a feeling (such as power, strength, femininity etc.) it can never be truly lasting because it’s like putting on a cover with no substance; but if we choose to go from the inside out instead, by discovering who we are and respecting our needs in daily life, we will begin to develop a style that truly honours us.
Who was the most interesting person you ever got to meet with?
Most memorable experiences include meeting Isabella Rossellini, Yohji Yamamoto and Ms Becky who is an 88 year old TV extra.
What era would you time travel to?
The roaring 20s. The Great Gatsby was my favourite novel and movie when I studied American literature in high school and those images just stayed with me—the bob hair cuts, the flapper dresses, the mansions and all night parties.
How have you and your style changed over the years
I dress almost entirely from how I feel. So when my inner landscape evolves, it shows in my hair, face and the way I dress. Style is an absolutely confirming expression to have, I absolutely recommend it.
What are your thoughts on sustainable fashion?
It is a courageous act based on heaps of commitment from the deep relationship we have for nature and the environment. Personally, I have been in organic farming for 5 years, so I understand the will power that is needed to sustain sustainability, so to speak.
Whose celebrity wardrobe would you like to take a sneak peek into?
Jack Ma. I am fascinated with menswear and I’d love to see how he organises his closet!
How would you describe your style?
Photos: Fan kar Long