Style Council Spotlight: Mr Alan Lo On The Best Of Hong Kong
Tai Kwun Contemporary Museum, Hong Kong, China. Photograph by Iwan Baan, courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron
MR PORTER Style Council Member Mr Alan Lo is a guy with a gimlet eye for what gives in Hong Kong. The restaurateur is cofounder of Duddell’s, which is a members’ arts club serving Michelin-starred Cantonese cuisine. Lo is himself an avid and curious collector, a trained architect and a leading voice in Hong Kong’s design scene. He serves on various boards and committees (as chairman of Design Trust, and as a member of Art Basel’s Global Patrons Council). He’s also MR PORTER’s go-to for tips on everything from sneaker drops to the best cocktail bars in Hong Kong. As Art Basel gets under way in Hong Kong from 21 May, Lo talks favourite hometown haunts, personal style and his surprising Netflix recommendation.
How would you describe Hong Kong to someone who has never been there?
Hong Kong is so vibrant, there’s so much happening. The street level possibilities are something you don’t find elsewhere: three fabulous restaurants next door to each other, then around the corner a little shop where you can spend a couple of dollars on a bowl of noodles. That’s the mad charm of the place. People live in small homes, so everybody goes out all the time. More than 40 per cent of Hong Kong is nature. You are never more than a 10-minute cab ride away from a hiking trail or a beach; that’s something people here only began to appreciate during Covid.
What are your favourite places in Hong Kong?
My favourite shop is The Armoury. Imagine the place a dapper gentleman would go for the nicest shirts and shoes and belts and vintage watches. It just shouts sophistication and crazy attention to detail. My favourite bar is Penicillin. It was opened by two world-class baristas and is a great spot for a cocktail.
I am the cofounder of Duddell’s and it’s a favourite hangout. It’s my idea of an art club in Hong Kong. We have beautifully curated contemporary and modern art in a space designed by Ilse Crawford, with a cocktail salon, garden and library. Blindspot Gallery is run by my friend, Mimi Chun. The focus is mostly on Hong Kong-based artists, many of whom have been under-represented, but are getting traction now because of the M+ project and the Hong Kong pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
It’s Art Basel time. What are you most looking forward to seeing?
This is a special year for Basel. It’s going to be a more intimate fair than usual, but the art community is relishing a physical get-together. I’m looking forward to seeing the solo show by the young Nigerian artist Wahab Saheed. His work is mainly portraits, very gestural and full of emotion. It has a sketch-like, charcoal quality that I really enjoy. It seems almost unfinished, and that’s what makes it beautiful.
Private Dining Room at Duddells, Hong Kong. Photograph courtesy of Duddells
How would you define your own personal style?
Quite versatile, from what I’d call “elevated streetwear” to a three-piece suit, and everything in between. I like diverse brands: I go from Sacai to Palace. I am into sneakers, so I keep an eye on the limited drops from Nike. It’s good that Prada is having a comeback, I admire their vision and risk-taking. My background is in architecture, so I am interested in their collaborations with architects.
Are you a man who likes a suit? If so, what do you want from it?
I tend to go for the more unstructured, slightly relaxed look. But I am a restaurateur, and that means I am dressed casually during the day, then I go home and put on a suit to go to the restaurant in the evening – the other way round to most people. Before Covid, tailors flew into HK for trunk shows, so I was able to see Liverano or the guys from Ring Jacket in Japan. That’s not happening now, but The Armoury is doing trunk shows over Zoom, which is intriguing.
Has the pandemic changed your style or affected your priorities, fashion-wise?
I have been part of that big shift towards something more effortless, to whatever is comfortable. I’m afraid I got really bored and fat while we were all at home, so I finally decided to start working out. That has meant lots more athleisurewear for me: I have been living in my workout gear half the time.
From left: “Shadows Of Yesterday”, 2021, by Mr Wahab Saheed. © Wahab Saheed. “Other Side”, 2021, by Mr Wahab Saheed. © Wahab Saheed. Photographs courtesy of Wahab Saheed
What destinations have you missed most while travel has been difficult or non-existent?
I am dying to be somewhere in the Italian Riviera or in Sardinia. I just want to get up and go somewhere. I was last on a plane in February 2020. Someone had a reservation at the [formerly] three-Michelin-star Sushi Saito in Tokyo, so I flew there just to eat.
Are you a film buff?
Not really, but I am a Netflix buff. I get guilty pleasure from those Latin American series. It has got to the point where my wife has started asking: aren’t we watching a lot of Spanish dramas? But I just see them as a better version of the Korean soaps.
What about music? Is that a big part of your life?
I like John Mayer – and I like a Hong Kong-based talent called Khalil Fong who you could almost say is a Cantonese version of John Mayer: a full-on composer, producer, a real musician and singer-songwriter.
A curveball to end with – what piece of style advice would you give to your teenage self?
Wow. Tough. I would say this: you are wearing the fashion, fashion is not wearing you. So, just be yourself.