Our That Mama this month is none other than the fabulous Fashion Style Editor of Vogue China, Grace Lam. Educated in Central Saint Martins with a CV that reads like a fashion encyclopedia, this is one mama who hasn’t let motherhood get in the way of her rise to the top. We get the lowdown on the perfect wardrobe for a tiny tot, how to separate work and play, and why sometimes you need a little bit of va va voom in your life!
Can you tell us how you became the Senior Fashion Style Editor at Vogue China? After I graduated from Central Saint Martins with a first class honours degree in Graphic Design I met the founder of i-D magazine (London), and worked as their Editorial Assistant before assisting their Fashion Director Edward Enninful for a couple of years. During that time, we worked on Vogue Japan, Vogue Italia, V Magazine, L’uomo Vogue and I met the VP of Condé Nast Asia while shooting in NY with photographer Craig McDean. When Vogue China launched I was recruited immediately due to my international work experience and have remained there since.
How do you maintain the level of success you have achieved?
I think it’s important not to be big headed about success. I always remember things can change overnight so it’s important to stay grounded. A job is just a job and anything can happen, at the end of the day enjoying what you do is the most important thing.
Do you believe that family comes first?
As soon as I became a mother, my husband Jason and four months old little boy Theo immediately became my first priority. Nowadays, I try not to go out too often at night, as I prefer to spend quality time with my family. I am pickier about my post work events, appointments, and I try not to bring fashion issues back home. Work takes up the majority of my day and I think it’s important to dedicate my evenings and weekends to my friends and family.
How do you balance work and play?
I have been working in the international fashion scene for over 16 years now and am very good at separating work and play. My husband Jason Capobianco is a fashion and beauty photographer but we hardly talk about fashion outside of work as we have a lot of other interests in life. To me, fashion is a job and I am lucky to be able to have fun while working but at the same time it would be okay if I was a stay at home mom. I think at different stages you want different things in your life and discover new challenges.
What is your stress-reliever?
My husband is a great chef so we enjoy cooking, eating, and hanging out at home. I lived in London most of my life which explains my very dry sense of humour, and my love of British comedy. We also watch Formula 1 racing and TopGear UK together with my son, even though he is only 4months old! I also like to take walks around Hong Kong and discover new things in town. I love going to the movies too but after Theo came along we don’t get to go as often. For more intense excitements I like to go to Sideways driving in Central where you can pretend to race on a computer F1 track!
Do you have any advice for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
My husband Jason and I have been together for four years now and only celebrated out anniversary recently. We share a lot of common interests and since having baby Theo, we have less time to be romantic, but still make an effort to go out alone even if it is just for a half hour coffee break. It’s important to have a good sense of humour and keep up communication.
How do you stay organised and any tips and tricks for saving time?
Write a ‘to do list’ each morning or keep an electronic notebook on your iphone/blackberry to remind yourself all your tasks. I am a big fan of post-it note and I have them all over my desk at work and at home so I won’t forget to do things. My husband Jason thinks I am crazy!
You mentioned that the first few months of motherhood were a struggle, how did you overcome this turbulent time?
The first two and a half months were really hell ha! Everything is so new, suddenly you have a brand new person you need to take care of, and you don’t even have time to recover. My saving grace was my husband. He is such a hands on dad and has more patience than me and is such a loving person. My top tip for motherhood is to find a partner that will support you both mentally and physically, as it’s so important not to feel alone during the beginning stage.
You recently had a baby boy (he’s such a cutie!), is there an easy way to do pre and post-natal chic?
I didn’t buy any maternity clothing during my pregnancy as typical maternity wear is not exactly what I would call ‘stylish. When I was three to four months pregnant I went to I.T in Hysan Place and bought lots of normal ready-to-wear clothing but in larger sizes. I would advise pregnant ladies to buy items that will enhance their lovely bump rather than hiding it, as it’s a beautiful thing to show off to the world.
Did your style change when you became a mum?
Not really, I refuse to become those typical ‘mumsy’ types. I want to remain fashionable and trendy even though I have a little baby. I don’t understand the concept of ‘letting yourself go’ just because you’ve given birth. Yes, your life changes after a baby, but as a wife and mom it’s important to make a special effort to look good in order to re-build our confidence after birth. I was fortunate that during my pregnancy I only gained weight on my belly, and four months after giving birth I am now back to my usual weights. I guess breast feeding plus being really busy helps to lose the baby weight. Ladies…. no excuse!
With so many designers to choose from how do you decide what to wear in the morning?
Easy, I always know roughly the night before what to wear the next morning so I don’t waste time trying to put a look together last minute. It depends if I have a fashion event to attend and I will dress accordingly. I always like to support local Hong Kong designers such as Johanna Ho, Jourden, and Compound by 3 Spirit. As a Senior Fashion Editor I feel I am in a good position to help these local designers.
What are the essential basic wardrobe items every woman should own?
Accessories and jewellery are the best tools of the trade. I always accessorize and my favourite jewellery designers are my good friends Lara Bohinc (London) and Joomi Lim (NYC). Of course I LOVE diamonds too! I adore my aquamarine with white diamonds wedding ring from my husband and my Chaumet white diamond ring from my mom as a good luck ‘push present’… diamonds are a girls best friend after all!
What is an easy and convenient way to build a child’s perfect wardrobe?
Practicality is key, as kids grow out of their clothes so quickly and I would advise against spending a lot of money on kids. Personally, I don’t want my son Theo to be too fashionable, as I don’t think it makes sense for children to have expensive wardrobes. Kids should learn to be practical and only spend money on necessary things especially when they are young. But of course the occasional treat is important too if they deserve it. At the moment, I love shopping at SEED, baby GAP, Nicholas and Bears and some small local shops in Causeway Bay.
What are your favourite family friendly restaurants in Hong Kong?
I go to Classified restaurant often as there’s one in Happy Valley where we live. The food is good, the prices are reasonable and it’s very kids friendly.
What is your view on aging gracefully and what is your beauty routine?
I want to age gracefully as it is a natural progression, which we all have to go through. I am often horrified when people try to dress or try to look ten years younger than their age as it is so unnatural. I don’t have much of a beauty routine, but I use Dermalogica, Estee Lauder and Missha products daily. I don’t like to fuss too much, so I keep my beauty routine very simple and quick. For makeup I use Tom Ford, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana and MAC cosmetics.
Do you have a secret seamstress in Hong Kong?
I always go to this lady in Causeway Bay Jardine Crescent, her alteration shop is called Angel Fashion inside Capitol business Centre.
Check out the rest of our That Mama hall of fame here.