Up-and-coming Hong Kong fashion designer Melissa Bui has always been a dreamer, and her collections have a touch of magic to them.
“We try to create a fairy tale in modern day living,” Bui says of her collections.
“I envision each collection to be a journey. It starts with the inspiration, which I find when I’m travelling, or through personal experiences – and I want to re-interpret the things I feel, or see, and tell a story through that.”
Her Spring Summer 2017 Collection, Wisteria Way, was inspired by her travels through Japan.
“Each season is very strong in terms of embroidery design and the theme. I saw these beautiful hanging Wisteria in Japan, so for the SS17 collection it was all about that colour and mood.”
Canada born-Hong Kong raised Bui never lost that magical sense of wonder that goes hand in hand with childhood.
“As a kid, I was obsessed with Disney. I had this crazy collection of VCRs. I do believe in magic and fairy tales, and that imagination was what brought me to where I am today.”
"I loved everything creative. I was very arts and crafty. I’d draw or paint or use whatever medium I could find.”
Bui’s fairy tale would not have been possible without the support of her parents, who defy the stereotypical Chinese parents.
“You hear stories about bad ‘Tiger Mums’, but my parents have always been very supportive of the arts. I did drawing lessons, which then involved into Chinese painting classes.”
"They never said ‘no’ for fashion school. They only said, ‘go for it’. I wouldn’t have started my own business if they didn’t encourage me to do so.”
The path to success, however, wasn’t always an easy one.
“It’s been tough. We’ve been doing this by trial and error. But the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to be selective with the advice and thoughts from other people.”
“For me, it’s about picking out what works, and what doesn’t work, and sticking with my gut instinct, rather than swaying or listening too much to others.”
“I’m still trying to figure it out myself, but it’s important to stick to your brand identity. We try our best to put out a collection that people understand and like – and from there, the success comes with it.”
The budding designer who creates ethereal works often credits the rise of social media to her business success.
“We don’t have a huge budget, so we use social media to spread the word. Instagram is such a powerful tool, because we can really tell our story. For us it’s about the quality control and craftsmanship, and it allows us to showcase every little step in how our outfits are made.”
Her Hong Kong-based brand has now started shipping internationally to countries like Singapore, the UK and America.
But despite the success, Bui is content to keep her boutique niche.
“I want to create timeless pieces that can last. I take a lot of photos about the things I’m obsessing over, moving onto drawings, and going from there. Generally, it can be anywhere from one month to three months before we have something physical we can see.”
“I don’t expect us to be the next Self Portrait, for example. I’d like to keep things understated.”
“I don’t think there’s ever really an end-game. You kind of just have to keep going!”