Style Insider: Sarah Lai, Fashion Designer

Sarah Lai - Black Dress with White Striped Sleeves with Mirrors Full Body
By   /  February 13, 2014

Sarah Lai is the new kid on the fashion block. There’s been quite a few fashion designers debuting their label in Hong Kong, but Sarah’s geometric tops and dresses from her first collection looks set to fill the gap for contemporary work clothes that are made well, yet both elegant and modern. A balance where we can be taken seriously at work and still look fashionable without being too fashion-y. After graduating from Cornell University, she went into banking and joined investment bank, Morgan Stanley. Coming from the corporate world, she saw that there was a gap in the market for women’s work clothes and enrolled herself at Central St.Martin to learn the trade. In 2013 she launched her own line – Sarah Lai and brings to her collection a sense of classic elegance and mixes it up with what’s modern, making clothes that caters to the working women.

Tell us about yourself…

I grew up in Hong Kong and had a pretty traditional Chinese family upbringing and did my high school and college in the States. My fascination with fashion began as a child in my grandmother’s designer wardrobe. I remembered that she had the most  impeccably tailored suits, colourful fluttery silk dresses that were so elegant, sophisticated, feminine, refined and timeless. After graduating from Cornell University in 2005, I embarked upon a career in finance. As an aficionado of fine clothing, I struggled to find practical pieces that I wanted to wear so I decided to start my own label, making clothes that has that timeless elegance and classic tailoring and also the freedom and functionality that we have come to expect in today’s modern women’s wardrobe.

A new project you are currently working on that you are most excited about…

I am very excited about my second collection and first Fall/Winter collection, which I’m calling “Vibrant and Gracefully Chic.” I have been working on it for more than three months, and there are many items that I love very much and can’t wait to show to buyers, editors and customers. This is also my first season exhibiting at the Paris’s “Who’s Next” show. I am very excited to meet more people and getting their feedback.

Sarah Lai - Grey Blue Dress with Lace Back and Details at Dressing Table 2
Describe your style…

Elegant

Happiness is…

“taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”

A quote that inspires you…

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” – Audrey Hepburn

Fashion…

“changes, but style remains.” – Coco Chanel

What are the 3 movies that made the biggest impact on you and why?

I don’t really have any movies that have a huge impact on me. For books, it’s Tuesday with Morrie by Mitch Albom and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Sarah Lai - Pink Sweater & Grey Skirt with Lace

Who do you think has great taste / style in clothes?

My grandmother, Faye Wong, Tina Leung

A signature piece you always wear that is unique to you…

My Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra Vintage Black Onyc necklace

Top 3 beauty products you can’t live without…
  • Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment from Fresh
  • Lifting Eye Essence from MTM Skincare
  • Magic Cream from Charlotte Tilbury
The top 3 places in Hong Kong you buy your shoes from…

On Pedder, Roger Vivier, Rupert Sanderson

Top 3 online stores you bought from in the last 6 months?

Net-A-Porter, SSENSE, Fancy.com

Sarah Lai - Black Dress with Shiffon Sleeves and Polka Dot Hat with Mannequins

10 websites /blogs you read religiously daily/ weekly and why you read them…(ex: www.style.com for runway styles inspiration)

Google – I use it to find information more than 10 times a day

TED – for inspiration talks, speeches and new ideas

Style.com – for latest collections and photos from the runway, trend reports, style notes

Business of Fashion – for latest news in the fashion business

Instagram – you know what that’s for!

The Dvine , Tina Loves – fashion blogs

Financial Times, Bloomberg, CNBC for latest news in finance

Your top 3 favourite place to go for a drink after work…
  • 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
  • The Cheese Bar at Caprice
  • Wyndham the 4th

Photographer: Joyce Yung

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