Fashion publicist and stylist Kieran Ho shares his experience serving as a YDC judge and advice for potential contestants.
Kieran Ho, Senior Vice President of Purple PR, served as a judge for the Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC) in 2020 and 2021. As a fashion design graduate, he understands how important it is for young creatives to have a platform. YDC is one such platform for Hong Kong to see what young talent has to offer.
He joined the YDC judging panel at a tumultuous time for Hong Kong and the world, something that designers captured in their works. “From 2019 to 2020, there was this dark cloud over Hong Kong due to the social movement and pandemic. You could feel anger and negative mood in the collections. The mood was much more positive and hopeful in 2021. There were really happy designs that brought out good emotions,” he explained.
When it came to selecting winners, having a standout personality played a big part in influencing his decision. “Toki Wong, this year’s winner of the Excellence Award, designs for himself and that’s very attractive and authentic. Your uniqueness is why shops want to carry your designs.”
Champion and Best Visual Presentation Award Cady Lee’s sculptural approach to fashion was a rare sight among Hong Kong designers, who are known to be primarily market oriented. Her collection, entitled ‘Emotion the Shift of the Self’, featured surrealistic shapes and patterns. “When I saw her presentation board, she was already my favourite. I couldn’t wait to see how she realised those designs in 3D. She wasn’t making clothes but sculptures.”
Wong’s presentation board for his ‘Zoom Olympic’ collection was another one Ho remembered fondly because while comedic, it also showed depth and a unique point of view. “The clothes might not be the best, but his concept was very strong. I’m very happy to learn that he’s already selling his clothes and working on his brand.”
Topsy Yu, who won My Favourite Collection Award for her ‘Morning Moon’ collection, impressed Ho with her techniques and embroidery. “All the winners showed a spirit in their designs. They have their own signatures.”
With YDC 2022 fast approaching, Ho suggests contestants stay true to themselves and do some soul-searching before applying. “First of all, ask yourself if you really want to be a designer because you have to be very committed. Not everyone is meant for this. Secondly don’t do what others want you to do but only you can do. As I said, it’s that uniqueness that we want to see.”
Ho also has some practical advice on how to present sketches. “Judges have to look at hundreds of entries on the day so we may only spend one minute looking at yours. Have a story but not an overly long one. Be neat and tidy with clear images. We won’t have time to interpret anything that’s too moody. You can do that later when you’re in the final and present to us personally.”