Fashion, Styling and Retail: We are all Beauty-full

by Adele Leung , Fashion Stylist / Art Director, Hong Kong

My work has been in fashion styling, art direction, publication and fashion retail for the last 18 years.

I started out in this industry because of a very simple knowing in my heart that there is so much beauty around. Of course I didn’t know then that this beauty is within myself to begin with, but I did know it was this beauty that propels me to express. Never have I studied fashion design or art or photography, and ironically, I can’t even really sew or use the sewing machine. In my school days, because the sewing machine was so intimidating to me, I sewed everything by hand; I still do today, and all of that I now proudly call ‘playful’ endeavours, as the stitches are never uniform.

From the very beginning I felt there was something that was not true to my heart when I worked in the fashion industry, because I worked in a way that was unloving. I would work very hard and extremely long hours, flying constantly to Milan and Las Vegas (when I was a fashion buyer), jet-lagged, relying heavily on coffee to keep me going for long days in a show room: then heavily medicate with food and alcohol, which was referred to as ‘fine dining’, until midnight, returning to the hotel to continue with the day’s work. All this hard work in exchange paid for the expensive clothing that I wanted to put on my body, and the cycle would repeat. I never bought expensive clothes because of their brand names – rather, through clothes, I was seeking so desperately for something to confirm the feelings that I had within me, but was not expressing.

The exhaustion I caused to my body led me to react to the external adornment of physicality, but without yet fully understanding that beauty has to begin from the inside out, and not from the outside in. And thus, with this incline, my path towards understanding and expressing true beauty, began.

Leaving the fashion industry, I joined the publication industry… again with no journalism experience, only a burning impulse to express. Through beauty and fashion editorials I began to unravel beauty in a clearer light. I can feel that all is from within, yet how can I express this in mainstream media, in the temporal world, in Hong Kong, where materialism rules? So, I began touching upon living this beauty by taking care of what I eat and drink, what my thoughts and actions are. All of the ongoing personal explorations I expressed either literally or abstractly in a two dimensional presentation, but only because the work that was published was first lived inside of me. Of course, this learning is ongoing, and there is still so much to learn. Surprisingly, I was not fired from my position when I ‘challenged’ conventional ideas of makeup and dressing up­ – quite the contrary, I had inspired, because truth is inherently universal to all hearts; but if we do not stand for it, what is not truth becomes the norm.

I express my femaleness much more now through clothes and aesthetics. It is not to increase beauty, or hide what I do not feel is perfect, but an honest expression of who I am. I never only express in one style or colour, because that would be too limiting in the expression of what I feel. I respect my body and honour it in tender ways, from choosing a certain neckline, fabric, length, color, print etc; I would not hide myself in a high turtleneck when I feel lovely and wish to express with a V neck dress, but I also would not allow myself to get cold and wear short skirts just because they looked sexy. It is all about feeling how I am that moment and allowing flexibility to truly nurture myself. My little secret in dressing up is, immaculate perfection is not what I am after, but fun (sometimes humour) and harmony is.

It is true that the female body has been represented in many unloving ways by the media, and it is no wonder that so many women only know beauty to be something outside of who they are. Some may associate beauty with being sex objects, others may believe it is just the opposite. Feeling very beauty-full and embracing that lovely-ness, I once wore a sleeveless deep V dress on a beautiful warm day, incidentally having to attend an event in my child’s school. That was how I was truly feeling, and I expressed it as such. It was greeted by many other mothers with kindness and smiles, as they felt that beauty within themselves too. Yet it was also greeted by some with loveless remarks. Was it possible they also knew this beauty to be true, but resisted recognising it in themselves?

The true and genuine beauty of a woman is the love that they hold, and equally express for themselves. With this love, anything that is not true is instantly felt. This love also cannot but feel the connection with every other woman and man. Therefore, if another chooses to express in loveless ways to themselves or to another, there is understanding rather than judgment. And with love, it is not from the other person that we walk away, but from their choice of expression. If someone expresses in greater love for themselves than us, there would be gratitude for inspiration rather than a comparison or judgement.

True beauty is what my soul has always known to be love and joy; it is a harmonious and truthful expression, it is just what it is, nothing more, nothing less, and in-truth, we are all beauty-full.

169 thoughts on “Fashion, Styling and Retail: We are all Beauty-full

  1. i have always felt ‘the cat walk’ is a very diminishing term for fashion shows but realise that it is a platform for the outer with no reflection of the inner beauty of the person wearing the clothes.

  2. Thank you for exploring how to express your love of beauty in so many different fields and parts of your life and reflecting this to other women to be inspired by.

  3. Expressing our love, who we are, is beautiful, ‘The true and genuine beauty of a woman is the love that they hold, and equally express for themselves.’

  4. We all know when something does not feel true in our heart, so how often do we listen and honour it…we often choose to live in regret rather than choose the heart and honouring the moment of knowing the truth…we do know and it is so important that we follow through what feels true for us, our whole well-being depends on it.

    1. Following our heart rather than suppressing what is true for us is crucial for our health and well being and it is inspiring to hear how others have lived this in so many different ways.

  5. “I had inspired, because truth is inherently universal to all hearts; but if we do not stand for it, what is not truth becomes the norm.” Most fear to speak up because people might not like them but what you share is very true, we all know truth and when it is presented to us it is like being met and understood and this is something most people love instead of detest or react to.

  6. This is so beautifully expressed Adele and your lightness and playfulness is much needed in an area where image is so all encompassing. Shine on and reflect your loving ways to all.

  7. True beauty always comes from within first and then emanates outwards as you share in this blog.

  8. I like the fun way in which you dress and are with fashion; and yes, this makes sense, ‘It is all about feeling how I am that moment and allowing flexibility to truly nurture myself.’

  9. Yes it is us who can bring back true beauty and remind all around us by just being us and actually acting on what we are feeling to wear and express and not holding it all back because of fears, ideals or believes.

    1. Truth always effortlessly exposes what is not true. When we see true beauty then it naturally exposes what is not truly beautiful. Gradually over time truth will replace non truth simply by being itself.

  10. “The true and genuine beauty of a woman is the love that they hold, and equally express for themselves” Beautiful Adele; this feels even more important today as the world gets increasingly racy. Staying true to who we are feels paramount.

  11. I like the point you make that it is not about changing the structures around you but it is about changing from within and allowing this to be expressed out and it is then this that will inspire others and it is then this that leads to greater change elsewhere.

    1. Absolutely we can rail against how things are in the world but by committing to expressing from your divine essence you are much more powerful than the establishment and your reflection is felt far and wide.

  12. ‘The true and genuine beauty of a woman is the love that they hold, and equally express for themselves.’ The more women who realise that their beauty is reflected by the love that they hold within, the sooner we will get rid of all the beliefs women hold that they need to look or dress in a certain way, beauty definitely comes from the inside out.

  13. It has been presented to us through the ages that who we are within is where our real majesty lies, and it is beautiful to feel through what you have shared that this can be lived at any moment, anywhere. It is absolutely true, that the real beauty of a woman emanates through her way of being when she is connected to her essence, to her Soul, as she expresses to who she truly is.

  14. The joy you get Adele from wearing what you feel like, is so palpable and tangible. When a woman – or anyone – is truly claiming themselves, fully expressing themselves through what they’re wearing, it’s an inspiration for everyone around them to do the same.

  15. We are missing the true essence of people in industries. What a difference it makes to be working in my industry IT bringing a sense to people to connect to that innermost beauty. It reduces issues. It’s miraculous what happens when you bring love in to what you do.

  16. Standing up for truth is stunning, it is a beauty that goes far beyond what clothing can be worn or adorned upon our bodies. And when you stand up for the truth you become radiant in your beauty, you in fact outshine every brand label that can be placed upon you. And you show us that we can all do the same.

  17. Reading this reminded me of going out to night clubs all hours of the morning during the winter months, but one thing I refused to do was go without my coat. Personally I couldn’t think of anything worse than being cold, and walking around half naked in the early hours of the morning.

  18. I love what you express here Adele, and how you now are with your clothes, an expression of you and how you feel – it’s deeply beautiful to feel and see this in another and be inspired to ourselves express how we are with clothes. I’ve been learning to embrace colour and the delicateness I can be with me and it’s so much fun (who knew) and reading this today it feels like there is more to express and explore.

  19. Lovely to hear about the difference between perfection and harmony. For me they feel very different and even look different to the eye and it occurs to me that fashion along with many other things in our world would be very different if we truly understood the difference between these two and based things on feeling harmonious rather than chasing some ideal of physical or aesthetic perfection.

  20. I am inspired when you write about clothes and aesthetics, “It is not to increase beauty, or hide what I do not feel is perfect, but an honest expression of who I am”. This is quite liberating on many levels and has made me stop in my tracks; the tracks of trying to improve this and that facet or minor detail. I can feel how this comes from the wrong perspective, one of focussing on perceived flaws and faults rather than appreciating the beauty that is always there.

    1. When someone is connected to the beauty that’s within us all then what would ordinarily be seen as ‘flaws or faults’ disappear without a trace. Inner beauty is quite literally blinding, we’re mesmerised by it.

  21. The ‘external adornment of physicality’ is a great way to put what we have globally accepted as beauty at the expense of people seeking to better the outer at all costs rather than to connect to and honour what already lay within… expressing from a truth and not a pretense. It is gorgeous that you can reflect true beauty to the world so that they can be reminded that we have got it terribly wrong and what they seek need not be sought but rather lived.

  22. True beauty comes from within as the outer is forever imperfect and the bar gets raised forever higher. And thus, we totally lose ourselves in the pursuit of the perfection of the outer appearance.

  23. It brings us back to our body – that all we feel is inside us and that once we take it from the inside to the outside, things really start to make sense and change… A way that like the woman of this blog inspires and once has been inspired by a woman (who claimed herself). A brilliant example of how much power we hold within – we just have to let it all out, without holding any of it back !

  24. Fashion has its place amongst the lives of women, but I suppose things become confusing and out of kilter when who we are is determined by what we are wearing.

  25. Thank you Adele it is inspiring to hear how you are choosing to express your beauty not only in what you wear but also in how you conduct yourself at work in an industry that has fuelled so much unloving behaviour. A beautiful reflection to all those around you.

  26. Beautiful Adele. It really is possible for any one of us to express our true beauty regardless of what we wear or where we are.

  27. I agree Adele . . . “The true and genuine beauty of a woman is the love that they hold, and equally express for themselves” . . . There is nothing as beautiful as a woman who is expressing her true self in full.

  28. Its very interesting and beautiful to hear your story, I enjoyed every word. Its proves to me that it is possible to be yourself anywhere, in any industry, no excuses.

    1. When we are our ‘true selves’ then we bring Heaven through us because our true self is the same for all of us and that is being a portal for Heaven. Sure we all look different and have different expressions but for all intents and purposes we’re all just different coloured and textured portals for Heaven. And I for one don’t want to be anything else, there is no aspect of human life that could possibly offer me more than being a portal for God and that’s a fact.

  29. This is so true, ‘ truth is inherently universal to all hearts; but if we do not stand for it, what is not truth becomes the norm,’ and, it is up to us all to call out anything that is not true.

  30. Beauty is emanating from inside, the truth of who we are, learning to treasure and express this is a beautiful journey.

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