Vivian Luk rarely stops. It’s early Saturday afternoon, and she is already meeting her third client of the day, a low-key society couple who had brought her a fistful of lavender, painstakingly wrapped, from their engagement trip in France.
The bride-to-be, who befriended Vivian after commissioning an evening dress, is here for the first fitting of her wedding gown. Over the next six months, they will meet at least five times for bustier fittings, design brainstorming, and rehearsals on how to move. Given the intimate nature of these sessions, it’s little wonder that many patrons become friends.
“Most of my clients don’t just come for a dress, they come for this unique experience,” Vivian says.
The designer mentions a recent client who started off as a “typical bride” that she was “almost afraid of”: “She came in wanting lace, strapless and A-line. I thought that was rather bland, so we started exploring different types of lace: thick, thin and beaded. Then we started to look at how fabric can be manipulated to suggest lace, such as ribbon embroidery.” When Vivian realised that her clients’ passion for lace stemmed from her love of flowers, they went on to create a gown that evoked florals.
“As a designer, this process is so gratifying,” Vivian says. “Not only have I understood my clients’ core preferences; in turn, she has also fully embraced my approach to design.”
“I find it touching when gowns come to life, worn by women who understand and can connect with the gown,” says Vivian.
There is a palpable sense of community among her clientele, who can often be found lounging among magnificent, half-finished gowns at her Happy Valley atelier.
At Vivian’s atelier, the endless activity is matched only by her continual flow of ideas.
“When I was designing for both Vera Wang’s Celebrity and Collection divisions in New York, Vera said one of my best qualities is that I am prolific—once my ideas start coming, they never stop, like opening a tap,” Vivian recalls.
Lately, those thoughts centre on beginnings.
“I’m trying to reconnect with who I was before I started working,” says Vivian. “After graduating from design school, people start telling me what’s sellable, and I get affected because I do need to keep clients happy. At the same time, if I just followed, I’ll lose the sense of who I am.”
Her 2013 collection ‘Coral Gardens’, is inspired by underwater life and flowers. “All the things I used to love, like fairytales and organic forms,” she explains.
Vivian’s work, like her business model, is deeply personal. “When you start up a creative business, each piece you create becomes a part of who you are,” says Vivian. “Every time I design for someone, we welcome each other into our respective worlds.”.
Vivian is delighted that her wedding clients have started to return to her for maternity dresses. “Will I design a maternity or children’s line in the future? Time will tell,” says Vivian, eyes twinkling.
By a friend and journalist