Anyone that has heard about the paradox of choice will understand why Jacqueline Au’s bridal boutique The LOFT is such a hit with brides in Hong Kong. Her minimalistic boutique focuses on chic and modern dresses, separates, jumpsuits and accessories that are heavily curated. We take a walk through her ‘Lab of Fairy Tales’ in Central and find out how she filled such an obvious gap in the market that no one else could see.
How did your fashion background lead you to setting up The LOFT?
I revel in new talent and a fresh perspective when it comes to fashion, and that is what I have been doing for the past ten years as a buyer. That’s what I love doing – discovering new pieces that nobody else has and bringing in under-the-radar designers that bring a new perspective to the table. For me, The LOFT is not about just bringing in the big names and brands that everyone knows and putting them on a rack. It is about curating a collection that inspires and excites modern brides. We are always on the look out for fashion designers that don’t obviously create fashion for the aisle, like Delpozo and Maticevski.
What gap in the market does your boutique fill?
We tap into a group of modern brides who are far too cool for a traditional gown, and love fashion. They like looks that might be minimalist in style, but maximal in design that they will still love in twenty years.
What is the biggest misconception about brides today?
I learned early on that my customers are not really buying into trends. They don’t come to The LOFT for pieces that everyone else is wearing. They don’t want to spend all this money on a dress that looks exactly like what their friends wore. So for them, it’s really about hunting for an unexpected outfit that says something about them in terms of style and personality but also makes them look like the most beautiful version of themselves.
What does the modern Hong Kong bride want?
They like pieces that are show-stopping and can command a presence as they walk down the aisle but are still practical in terms of their ability to move around throughout the night and be able to enjoy themselves. They want maximum impact without the pressure of getting a custom-made or couture gown.
How have perceptions and money shifted towards accessories versus dresses over the years?
The dress is still all-important and the majority of the budget remains dedicated to it; but modern brides realise that wedding accessories can lift a look to the next level which is why they are shifting a part of their budget to invest in a custom veil from Daphne Newman or a pair of Pearl earrings from Danielle Frankel to complete their looks.
Who were the key designers you wanted to stock when you launched?
Delpozo, Danielle Frankel and Maticevski. I have my eye on Giambattista Valli Couture (which I wore for my wedding) and Ashi Studio.
What are some historical iconic wedding dresses that you love?
Audrey Hepburn’s Pierre Balmain and Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert’s Valentino Couture are two of my favourites.
Jumpsuits and separates are having a moment. What designers do them best?
Maticevski for jumpsuits and Danielle Frankel for separates. If a bride wants to go for a ready to wear look The Row is also a great option.
What advice do you have for brides looking for the perfect dress?
Brides should always tackle the shape first and details later. they will find it a lot easier to focus and won’t be wasting time nitpicking the details like lace, embroidery and ribbons in the beginning.
Who are your favourite wedding vendors that you recommend to clients?
Hair stylist: Marvin Lin of SHHH group for hair
Wedding Planner: Melbourne-based Style Co.
Florist: Sarah Winward for her ethereal cloud-like chandeliers and floral arches
Photographer: Max Wanger takes the most memorable shots I’ve ever seen Venues: Sevva and the terrace of Duddells