Art Basel Hong Kong: A Roundup
We’ve been attending Art HK since its inception 4 years ago and were very lucky this year to be involved in several projects happening in conjunction with the first ever Art Basel Hong Kong, both through Moustache and Salon No.10. It was a brutally exhausting, yet inspiring and glamorous week, and though we were praying for it to end so we could finally get some sleep, now that it has, we are left feeling a little wistful. And so we present to you our little slice of Art Basel Hong Kong. While it’s true we didn’t actually have time to attend the exhibition since we were either in the shop or Salon No.10, we did get to meet and mingle and even work with some truly amazing people from all over the world and do some really fun and creative events.
1. WUN DUN
One of the projects we were proudest to be asked to contribute to was the Absolut Art Bureau Bar in the old Ice House Building here in Central. For every Art Basel, Absolut works with an artist to design a pop-up bar for the duration of the fair. Part art installation, part real-live bar, and ALL fun, Absolut chose to work with our good friend Adrian Wong for Art Basel Hong Kong, and Adrian flattered us in turn by asking us to make the costumes for his cast- a bunch of super cool old cronies from all walks of Hong Kong life who must have gotten a real kick out of the experience. His brief was for a kookie, very surreal take on the types of old Hong Kong restaurants which still apparently exist in Kowloon- complete with a band of furry robot blobs with a Taoist explanation, a much loved 72-year old ex-Canto popstar, aforementioned super cool old cronies guarding the door, welcoming guests and delivering specialty cocktails such as a roast duck flavored vodka and a gooseberry spritz, giant fish tanks- all in a previously undiscovered sub-basement of the Ice House Building, now The Fringe Club. The bar was called Wun Dun, and it was a super fun, special place. Hong Kong is most definitely more boring again without it.
(A note on photos: I’ve culled some of these from various facebooks and blogs. I made sure we know all the photographers or at least met them this week but I figured forgiveness rather than permission? If you don’t want them here, just holler, and down they will come…)
Our specific task for Wun Dun was to make the uniforms for the cast of four male “performers.” In fact, each of the performers was performing a job somewhat close to the one he has: Mr. Cheong, the doorman, is the doorman of Adrian’s bride-to-be Samantha’s building; Mr. Lo the waiter is a real life waiter in a restaurant in Jordan, Kowloon; Mr. Ng, the Maitre’d, is, er, a captain on the Star Ferry; Jake Borndal, the dancing busboy is, well not exactly a dancing busboy, but you could have fooled me and half of Hong Kong! They were, in any case, perfect in their roles in the little world Adrian created. Adrian was a breeze to work with- he totally knew what he wanted down to the last detail but was always interested and often thrilled with new ideas. It was a collaboration in the most fun and easiest sense of the word.
Mr. Borndal, Mr. Lo, Mr. Cheong and Mr. Ng all looking dapper, and so welcoming!
Everyone was over the moon enchanted with the sultry chanteuse Lilian Chan, backed, perhaps, by the strangest band she’s every played with.
Much time and care was devoted to the cocktail menu at Wun Dun; an obvious benefit to working with Absolut is access their excellent team of barmen and mixologists. In fact, I’d like to give a giant shout out to all of the awesome Swedes me met last week from that fine company. Where else can one enjoy a roast duck Vodka with a bok choi garnish (as crucial as celery in a Bloody Mary, by the way) whilst watching a trio of pink and blue mini-lobsters snack on a pack of salamanders? Answer: no where.
The ever stylish Morgan and Miles make the scene in this wonderful snapshot under the creepy stare of Jake, who, in reality is a quite accomplished artist in his own right, a most special night rider and a very very soon husband to be, with whom we had the pleasure of working both for the work duds and the wedding suit. Congratulations, Jake- hope to see you back here soon!
THE FUR COAT AFFAIR
In addition to the suits we made for the staff at Wun Dun, we made this quite wonderful faux fur coat, modeled here by our very handsome client Mr. Zhen She, from the same fur as the robots in the band were made. Coveted by all the few days it was hanging in the shop, it went totally viral when Ellis posted it on Facebook in a most interesting way, as you shall see. We originally made it for Mr. Cheong, The Doorman, charged with welcoming customers with a spritz of questionably tasteful perfume. As luck would have it, the inaugural Art Basel Hong Kong would coincide with the inaugural Hong Kong summer of 2013, and, as Mr. Cheong was already wearing a perilously snug wool coat, it was decided that the coat would just sit- a fifth cast member as it were. And what a fantastic and mysterious journey she would take.
Last spotted here, at Wun Dun, relaxing at table towards the end of the first night. When we saw Adrian and Samantha later in the evening- much later, it should be said- everyone was concerned that the coat had vanished. It’s not like a fur coat to get up and walk away from a fun party, much less a faux fur coat. It was late, though, and we’re all adults, so I think everyone forgot about the whole affair until this little postcard emerged the next morning.
For those unfamiliar with the more obscure corners of the City of Hong Kong, this photo was taken along the coast of Ap Lei Chau against the backdrop of Lamma Island. It arrived by Facebook or SMS around the time it was taken, somewhere in the wee hours. There was but one thing this coat could have been doing…
Covorting naked with our good friend, the rascal behind Dandy and Paradisco, Mr. Lucas Luraka. Probably not the first to go down that path. As it was, the coat found her way back to Wun Dun for opening night, and it was all just a delightful art scandal- and what Art Basel would be complete without one?
DINNER FOR ADRIAN AT SALON NO.10
Here’s a lovely little snapshot of Adrian and his recently announced bride-to-be, Ms. Samantha Reid, a woman who masters a sublime mix of wildness and composure like no one I’ve ever met. This photo comes courtesy (I hope) of Ida Wong, with whom Samantha worked both with us on the uniforms for the male performers, all while Adrian invented cocktails in New York City and spoke with us on Skype.
The night of the opening of Wun Dun, we hosted a dinner at the Salon for Adrian and the team from Absolut Art Bureau and even a few Art Basel big wigs. I’m talking NAMES. That speck you see in the far corner is the wonderful Josephine Byrnes, ever camera shy, who styled the evening with a wonderful assortment of lanterns, tchotchke, flowers and other delightful little bits. The menu was designed and cooked by Mai Ling, original owner of the Salon and an accomplished chef of Northern Chinese Cuisine.
Musical accompaniment was provided by Ms. Brigitte Da Silva and her band, and music never sounded so sweet in the Salon.
This is Andres Basile-Leon, the Absolut mixologist who worked with our beloved barman Saul Fico to prepare some wonderful Vodka infusions. His other responsibilities included closing down the bar.
These wonderful lanterns and papier-mache roosters come from a hidden lantern shop in Sheung Wan. I’m still trying to find it again- thanks JoJo for the hot tip!
Salon No.10’s Karina, without whom we all would have died. Also giant love for Julien Hebert, Carla Melville, Ahlaiya Yung, Yuen Yuen and Sing- the hands that turn the wheel at Salon No.10. It’s actually been quite the busy little hive of late, Salon No.10. The week before Art Basel we hosted Saint Laurent Paris, with a little night of California Grunge, then later during Art Basel the Spring Cocktail for Monocle magazine, not to mention playing until the wee hours every morning after Wun Dun closed at 2AM. Some fun, late nights were had by all, including all of us that work there.
For the past four years, the big party of the Art Fair has been hosted by Stephen and Yana Peel on its last night. Small affairs for 5-700. In their house. They are an elegant, totally modern and lovely couple with stacks of credentials and we were honored when they asked us to create a room for their party, though slightly disappointed to learn that it would be, not at their house, but that disappointment was washed away when we discovered that the party would be at The Jumbo Floating Seafood Restaurant, famous for burning into the sea in Noble House. Here are some before photos of the Phoenix Room, which would rise from the ashes of staff lunchroom to become the Salon by Moustache.
Our vibe was early 19070s London interpreting the Edwardians- think David Bowie and Biba, cushions and feathers and more cushions and some serendipitously good lighting. This remarkable transformation would not have happened at all without the tireless work of Josephine Byrnes, a true visionary in the decorative arts.
Ellis, Julie and me, enjoying the Cat’s Pyjamas- thanks Boujis!
Julie and Louise, stunning and chic!
Yana very thoughtfully provided polaroid cameras for the revelers to document the evening. Here’ s Ellis and I in our new suits.
And with our beloved barman and friend Saul Fico.
Saul and Stefano.
THE AFTER PARTY
Yes, the party continued into the small hours, as they do. Here we are looking ghastly at a 5AM Karaoke session. Great photo though!
And walking home through Causeway Bay at around God knows what hour.
And finally to sleep.