In a city as dense and vibrant as Hong Kong, it can be difficult to stand out in the crowd. But not for former model-turned photographer/blogger, Sabrina Sikora. When the American-born beauty ended up in Hong Kong after modeling for fashion’s elite like Tom Ford, Chanel and Harper’s Bazaar, her whimsical and approachable personal style made her one of the top 5 most successful bloggers in Hong Kong. Here, we catch up with Sabrina about photographing Coco Rocha, balancing her passions, and her sartorial inspirations.
How would you describe your style?
In one word I would describe my style as bold. I love taking chances and wearing things that are a bit out there. I try to balance the crazy pieces with more basic ones, but then again I also love mixing prints and textures. At six foot tall, I was born to stand out, and I figure if people are going to look at me, then I may as well give them something more to look at rather than just “that tall girl”.
Never one to shy away from prints and colors, I feel awkward in all black, so if I find myself wearing it, then I will almost always add a bright lip, bag, or shoe. There are always far too many pieces of jewelry on my person and I’m pretty sure I own more gold baubles than one can wear in a lifetime.
You’re always seen in a lot of great jewelry or statement accessories, what are some accessories you don’t leave the house without?
First and foremost I always have my wedding set, my grandmother’s wedding band, and my mom’s engagement ring on my left hand. The other three pieces that never come off are my love bracelet, ‘H’ bangle, and the watch my husband gave me when my son was born. After that, I wear a McQueen double skull ring on my right hand along with a large quartz Mania Mania ring and a double ram head ring from Mallarino (I’m an Aries).
From there it is anyone’s guess. I may opt for my teensy simple camera charm necklace by Verameat or I may stack 10 thin charm necklaces of different lengths. Then again I may grab my massive Versace x H&M rhinestone cathead collar or some body armor. It all depends on what side of the bed I woke up on and what the scope of events is for the day.
“I always have too much jewelry on. It’s like my armor. “
It’s an instant conversation starter and it also gives me something to fidget with as I rarely stop moving.
How does your style differ when you dress in Hong Kong vs. when you dress in the US (if it does)?
As much as I would love to say that my style is consistent around the globe, that is just not true.
In Hong Kong I go all out- sequins, furs, mixed prints, turbans, etc. When I travel though, I try to stick to more of a capsule wardrobe so that I can pack for a month in one carry-on and be ready for any situation. While traveling I tend to pack pieces in a range or black, white, red, and leopard, making getting dressed a snap, as I’m able to mix and match pretty much anything in the suitcase. I’ll bring just two pairs of shoes (one flat day shoe and one killer night heel), one day bag, and one clutch. There is also usually a vintage silk scarf — like my Celine one that I found in Tokyo — it goes with everything and can work as a belt, turban, or tied on a bag.
As for jewelry, I pack my favorite pieces in a clear plastic container (like a tackle box) so that nothing tangled. I always have a massive pair of earrings, a statement necklace, and a cocktail ring on hand to amp up any of the outfits I create.
Favorite places to shop in HK?
HK is like a vertical maze of shopping. You have to know where to go or you will miss some real gems. This is one of the reasons I love style blogging as it allows me to constantly discover new goodies! Some of my favorite shops include:
1. The9thMuse: Walking into this shop is dangerous. You will try on lots of pieces and you will want to buy just about everyone of them! Along with local brands like Tangram, the shop sells international brands including Lulu Frost, Mania Mania, and Lionette, which are some of my favorites.
2. Me and G (Me and George): Most of my favorite pieces of clothing are vintage and this is a good spot to scoop up some interesting finds. Take the metal staircase in the back to the second floor to find a wall stocked with dresses from the 70’s and 80’s, all brought in from Japan. I found the coolest red silk jacket with a peplum here that is covered in hunting scenes… yes, you read that correctly. Prices are super low too!
3. Buttonhole: It is a hole in the wall but is filled to the brim with “factory seconds”. No one seems to know if the labels are real but they sure are lovely! I scored a McQueen knuckle-duster bag here for a steal! Keep an eye out for the very cool fur and leather pieces around wintertime.
4. S.Nine: I love getting dressed to the nines and will frequently pair my evening gowns with denim or leather biker jackets and flats just to get another wear out of them. Susanna Soo, founder and designer of S.Nine creates a stunning range of upscale separates and incredible cocktail and evening dresses. I’m currently obsessed with a blazer that has a hip length cape attached to the shoulders!
What does a day in the life look like for you?
My days are ever changing but if I had to nail down a standard one then, it would involve waking up at 7am with my son then getting a workout in on the roof while he takes his morning nap. I then check emails and edit/retouch photos or work on a blog post until around noon, then I would have a portrait shoot for an hour either in studio or on location. Come home, have lunch, then scoot out to an event or two.
Most nights I am home to do the bedtime routine with my son, but one or two nights a week I hit up the events and parties that are going on around town. Each week my husband and I have a date night so we can reconnect and laugh about whatever adventures the little one has gotten up to.
Can you share with us a fashion high you’ve had in your career?
My most recent fashion high was when I got to shoot Coco Rocha. She was lovely and we chatted babies and pregnancy as well as shopping in HK (I told her to hit up PMQ too! [a Hong Kong shopping complex]). As soon as I walked in my front door I was popping out the memory card and editing the images!
Other moments that stand out are when I got to work with Carolyn Murphy and Tom Ford for Estee Lauder. I was Carolyn’s lip and hand double. For the shoot I rolled around half naked on silk sheets, while Tom Ford instructed me on how to move to best sell his lipstick (hint: the sexier the better). Another fun experience was when I was on the NBC/Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search reality TV show. I lived in a ridiculously large house in LA with 11 other models and we competed to be in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. I got the boot for being too nice but not before I won myself a lovely diamond necklace in one of the fitness challenges!
Do you have fashion icons you look up to?
One fashion icon I love (and think most girls my age do) is Jenna Lyons. I love that she sets the styles that are revered by so many and does so in a relaxed casual cool way. She still expresses her personality without trying too hard. Miroslava Duma is another fashion powerhouse that always seems to get it right. I have pinned far too many of her street style looks!
I also adore Iris Apfel. I love how wonderfully bold she is. She has been traversing the globe for decades amassing incredible wardrobe and interior design finds. I’ve been doing the same but not for as long. When I am her age I hope to be covered in all my crazy prints, and furs, and massive amounts of costume jewelry telling my grandkids about my adventures — how I rode elephants to palaces in India, drank the blood of a cobra in Vietnam, tracked lions in Africa, sang on stage with the Beach Boys, and hiked along the Great Wall of China. All of these stories are true now but I still have many years ahead, God willing, to top these tales and add new ones to the narrative.
Words to live by?
Just say yes and figure it out later.
Someone has to win, may as well be you!
You only live once… dress for it!
Check out Visual Therapy and read the full post here!
Photo credits: First and fourth photos by Martice Milton; Second photo by Seth Sabal; All others by Sabrina Sikora