Globetrotter: Lucia Tait Tolani

Hong Kong-based style expert and shopping entrepreneur, Lucia Tait Tolani is giving us all the inspiration we need to get goal-setting this New Year. After relocating to Hong Kong a few years ago from New York, Lucia took her 10 years of experience in the fashion & lifestyle industry and launched members-only event styling service, Pair. Now, she’s changing the game of shopping in Hong Kong for retailers, brands, and consumers alike. Lucky for us she gave us some New Yorker insight into Hong Kong and her life there.

1) Describe your company in Hong Kong, why you moved there and your work with independent designers.

My company Pair brings brands, designers and retailers to Hong Kong for shopping events exclusively for my private clients. As a personal stylist, I also assist a handful of women with their wardrobes on an ongoing basis. I moved [to Hong Kong] three years ago from New York as my now-husband is from Hong Kong. Much to my surprise, I was ready for a change and a challenge!

2) What is your impression of Hong Kong as an expatriate (non-native)?

For me, Hong Kong is a village disguised as a metropolis. In pictures and sometimes even on the street, this city seems complicated and imposing, yet you're sure to bump in to at least one friendly face throughout the course of your day. What I appreciate the most about Hong Kong is the efficiency, and year-round accessibility to outdoor activities (hiking, beaches, and boating around the islands).

3) What are your Chinese New Year plans?

This year we are staying put. I’m looking forward to participating in some of the local traditions during the Chinese New Year, and I will particularly try expose my son, who was born here, to as many as possible. We will go watch a lion dance at our local club and we will pass out Lai See or 'red packets'.* This year I've color-coded by denomination, which I expect will make it easier to say an extra special 'Kung Hei Fat Choy'. I'm not a Cantonese cuisine connoisseur, but I do like to have turnip cakes this time of year.  The air quality and climate over this period will draw me outdoors. Overall, it's lovely to walk the streets, which are lined with red lanterns, fish and rooster shaped decorations, kumquat trees, and more.

*To further explain, Lai See literally translates to “Good Luck” and is generally a red envelope that an elder will give to a junior.


4) What are your favorite places to shop, eat, and stay in Hong Kong?

My work space is the back of a friend's shop called Callixto. She is selling some colorful Boucherite rugs right now that are gorgeous. Local wares from stores like G.O.D. and Kapok (perfect gifts and souvenirs) can be found across the street inside the trendy PMQ. A visit to Joyce, also in Central, is worth it for the window displays alone. Check local listings to potentially catch a pop up from up-and-coming local designers - my favorites are Melissa Bui and P'IA. Lastly, I'm lamenting the loss of Tang Tang Tang Tang, which occupied a beautiful Wan Chai space - but you can still get the goods (such a gunmetal hued, fortune cookie shaped salt and pepper shakers) online - simply deliver to your hotel. 

For lunch on a visitor's first day, I think dim sum is the way to go! If they are partial to a scene, I'll take them for Duddell's free flow champagne brunch on the weekend. If they prefer low key, we will go for dumplings at Din Tai Fung or wonton soup at Mak's Noodle on Wellington Street. If Chinese is on the menu for dinner, I think Mott 32's design and atmosphere make for a great night out - just be sure to pre-order the Peking Duck. For 'Western', I find most weary travelers from the US or Europe like simple and comforting Italian. In the daytime we would go for a pizza at Amalfitana on Repulse Bay Beach; while an early dinner would be at 121 BC, a lovely wine bar with an evolving menu of regional specialities or, if it is a celebration we head straight to Carbone for too many courses (and cocktails) to count. After a few days of over-indulging, most guests need clean eating - Peggy Chan's vegetarian Grassroots Pantry provides a gluttony detox that doesn't forgo either flavor or nourishment.

To stay, I always recommend the Upper House. It is a very chic property which has a zen like quality while still managing to maintain a buzz. Not only did I get married there, but I often host fashion and social events on the property - I trust the level of service implicitly. For alternatives, the cute boutique Pottinger Hotel has a great bar and is right in the middle of Central, allowing guests to walk the city. Finally, the Peninsula is a landmark Grande Dame that evokes nostalgia but offers very modern accommodations.


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