Feiping Chang and I are seated in a booth at The Continental, directly across from her luxurious serviced apartment, as we grab a little D&G (drinks and goss). The chat about town has been all about impending nuptials to go with her big fat engagement ring given to her by her fiancé, Lincoln Li. The media-shy couple (well, he is, she’s a darling of the press) have been dating for a while but as the fashionista (“fashion influencer, not blogger or stylist as misreported in the press”) does not advertise her personal relationship (“my fiancé is quite private”), it came as a surprise to many of her followers.
Clearly not news to those in her circle, which includes a who’s who of Hong Kong society: Olivia Buckingham, Harris Chan, Jonathan Cheung, Antonia Li and, well, many of the names you see in the Prestige society pages.
Fei, as she’s popularly and affectionately known, has been in Hong Kong for less than a decade (born in Taipei and raised in a few countries) but is much in demand and known by all and sundry. With an investment-banking career long buried in the past (“Two years in New York that took a toll on my health for the long hours we had to work“) she returned to her first love, fashion, in 2008. Her comprehensive website, xoxoFei.com, limns her fashion, food and travel exploits (“The three things I love the most – maybe not always in that order”). The site took off and the industry noticed, hence you’ll find her seated on the front row of shows, not just in Asia but also in Paris and Milan.
Brand names roll off her tongue with the same facility they do from her wardrobe’s clothing racks, which – one assumes – rival those of major department stores, given her endlessly evolving ensembles. But the name that amuses her most at the moment is her own.
So what’s in a name?
Well, it’s so funny when new reporters or people I don’t know personally but follow me on social media think I’m from China and XoXo Fei (enunciate that in Mandarin!) is my actual name. Fei as my surname and XoXo as my name is actually in print – erroneously! My name had been used up on Instagram, so I just typed in my name and how I sign off “xo xo”; the combination is only my Insta-identity!
Let’s talk wedding bells, bella. Who are you wearing?
I’ve always loved Giambattista Valli designs, I love how romantic yet dramatic his couture gowns are, so when I got engaged, that was my go-to. I already knew in my heart. It’s going to be white – Valli’s earlier reference was purple. I’ve seen his first sketch and we’re making a few edits. After Paris Fashion Week, he’s going to focus a bit more on the gown.
Was he open to suggestions?
Yeah, of course. He had a lot of input. I tried on one gown from the previous couture collection and he loved how the top looked on me so he was really firm that he wants the top to be the same, but he was open to ideas on how to tweak the bottom and the fabric. He’s been really, really great. Volume is a concern – it’s not going to be as big as it was on the runway but I still want it to be dramatic, and yet I also want to be comfortable. It’s a fine line.
With a voluminous gown, would it matter what shoes you wear, as they can’t be seen anyway?
Well, I have a pair being made by Sergio Rossi, but during the other nights – our wedding is going to be a three-day celebration on Capri – I’m not sure what I’ll wear. I know one of my dresses will be made by Harris Chan. But other outfits ... well, maybe someone can send me bedazzled sneakers! I really want to be comfortable walking. I’m keeping the venue a surprise, but it involves a lot of walking for the bride!
So what’s borrowed, blue and new?
Well, I’m not a particularly traditional girl but this would be the occasion to perhaps follow some. I’ll definitely be wearing something given to me by our parents, an heirloom.
Any worries that you’ll be given a piece that’s not to your taste?
To be honest, yes, but I’ll be really appreciative of the sentiment and say that I love it, but maybe not today!
Coloured diamonds or classic?
With jewellery I’m not so adventurous as I am with fashion. I like plain white diamonds, but with a particular outfit I can be convinced to wear coloured diamonds.
Are you a big fan of chunky accessories?
I used to wear a lot of rings but now I only wear my engagement ring. I want it to be the focus and I like to wear jewellery that has sentimental value.
How did you like the Cartier pieces you wore for this shoot?
I loved them. They were so modern and I really think jewellery should enhance the beauty of the woman [rather] than take away from her. The jewellery we shot with the latest Cartier collection, it really brought out the confidence and glow within me and that’s really important. Jewellery is an investment and also a statement. You want it to reflect the best of you.
You just got back from multiple trips to Europe. You were at many of the shows and have done the same in the past too. What’s it like?
After a while, it’s all a blur. But the blurs are good as things that stand out really stand out. I went to [Dolce & Gabbana’s] Alta Moda and I went to couture for my fittings and selection. I missed many of the shows this year – I really wanted to see Valentino and Dior – but I’m so busy planning the wedding and we just bought a house in Hong Kong and one in Sydney. So there are a lot of things up in the air. Two households and a wedding!
Tell us a little secret about what you go through during fashion week.
I always gain weight in Milan and lose weight in Paris. In Milan, I’m eating non-stop, four meals a day. It’s divine and decadent. And everyone drinks wine like water!
PHOTOGRAPHY DINO BUSCH
STYLING SHEENA KHEMANEY
MAKE-UP KAREN YIU AT HONG KONG MAKEUP ARTIST ASSISTED BY GLOOMY KWOK USING DIOR COSMETICS
HAIR SEIFERT CHEUNG