ABBY CHOI: Abby Choi, a 28-year-old Hong Kong socialite and influencer, was found brutally killed and dismembered last week.
Choi’s ex-husband Alex Kwong, his brother Anthony and their father Kwong Kau have been charged with her murder. The Kwong brothers’ mother, Jenny Li, has been charged with perverting the course of justice. All members of the Kwong family were denied bail, according to the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court ruling on Monday.
Two days after Choi was reported missing on Wednesday, police found Choi’s body parts and a pot of “human soup” full of Choi’s remains at an apartment near Tai Po District’s Lung Mei Beach, which the elder Kwong began renting a few weeks earlier.
Police also discovered a meat grinder and electronic saws inside the apartment. Local officers said the suspects had carefully planned the murder and planned on destroying all evidence.
On Saturday, police arrested Alex Kwong at a ferry pier before he allegedly planned to escape. According to local media reports, Kwong carried several valuable timepieces, such as a Patek Philippe watch, that amounted to more than 4.5 million Hong Kong dollars, or $574,000 in value.
Kwong’s brother and parents were arrested on the same day.
According to local media outlets, the killing was triggered by a luxury property dispute.
Choi, whose parents are in the construction business in mainland China, grew up in Hong Kong and became a socialite and influencer with more than 116,000 followers on Instagram.
This Feburary, Choi was the cover face of L’Officiel Monaco, which called her “a true trendsetter.” “I am a person who keeps absorbing inspiration and always tries new styles. Sometimes I also try to dress up more extravagant, by mixing and combining different looks,” Choi said in the L’Officiel interview. Choi revealed to the fashion publication that she had plans to attend the Cannes Film Festival in May.
Choi attended Chanel and Dior‘s couture shows and dinner parties during January’s Paris Couture Week. She also made grand entrances at Giambattista Valli, Zuhair Murad and Georges Hobeika‘s runway shows and events.
As a self-described haute couture collector, Choi told Vogue China that “Paris feels like home to me,” during her couture week trip.
Choi’s current husband Chuk Kwan Tam, the son of the founder of the restaurant chain Tamjai Yunna Mixian, a publicly traded company in Hong Kong, has said that he will look after her four children, two of whom she had with Kwong. — DENNI HU
RUNWAY READY: It was the first time opening Paris Fashion Week for the MA students on the fashion design and knitwear design courses at the Institut Français de Mode. The emotion showed as 25 young creatives accompanied their models down the catwalk for the finale — some looking nervous, others visibly moved.
The latter sentiment was shared by program director Leyla Neri, who wiped away tears backstage afterward. “The ones that move me the most are the ones that were almost failing a few months ago and made it. It’s a question of resilience and motivation and hard work,” she told WWD. “I’m very proud of them. Some of them had anxiety issues, others had mental health issues, they’re far from their families, some of them couldn’t see their families since COVID-19,” she explained.
Despite the nerves, the talent on the runway was tangible among the students on the grueling two-year course, showing their upcoming graduation collections to the Paris fashion macrocosm inside IFM headquarters.
There are 118 students in the program, hailing from 23 countries.
The collections showing were as diverse as they come, blurring boundaries between genres and techniques.
“Each of them has their own universe and their own personality,” said Neri.
“We never push them stylistically. Sometimes you can tell when you see a collection which school it is. We try not to do that. Diversity is a priority, all of them are in their own universe.”
Highlights included French-Chilean designer Shanon Poupard’s wide, whimsical knit dresses that opened the show and intricate jacquard knits with the look of destroyed denim pieces displayed by Ju Bao, from China. South Korean Gookhyun Lee’s “Romantic Army” of moody wide-shouldered designs was adorned with 3D fabric moon-shaped details, while compatriot Chaewon Song’s three-dimensional knits had something of vintage Missoni about them, updated with masses of three-dimensional loops.
The young designers have just a month left to complete their graduation collections, which they then present to a jury of professionals. They also have to write a research thesis, before heading into a six-month internship, often with one of the major fashion houses. Around 95 percent of students on the program find employment within six months of graduation, according to IFM. — ALEX WYNNE
NEW CELINE FRAGRANCE LOCALE: Celine has expanded its niche fragrance footprint with a shop-in-shop opening in Paris’ Le Bon Marché department store last Friday.
The space measuring about 270 square feet sells Celine perfumes, candles, fashion accessories and small leather goods, including vanity sets and perfume cases. Marking the brand’s first dedicated Haute Parfumerie located in a department store, it is found in Le Bon Marché’s ground-floor beauty area.
From Feb. 16 to March 5, 2022, a Celine fragrance pop-up stood in the department store’s beauty space, and Celine scents had been sold in the brand’s accessories and leather goods corner at Le Bon Marché.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned Celine launched into fragrance in the fall of 2019. Each perfume in the collection reminisces a moment, a place or people close to Hedi Slimane, the brand’s creative director.
A freestanding store for the fragrances opened at 390 Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris in November 2019. The new department store shop-in-shop’s design echoes the freestanding store’s Art Deco influences.
In both, there are Grand Antique marble surfaces and gradient mirrored shelves displaying rows of bottles, in what the brand referred to as a “perfumer’s organ.”
At the LVMH-owned Bon Marché, in sync with the stand-alone Celine Parfumerie, will be launches of collectors’ pieces in very limited quantity, including cotton jars in faceted metal and four sprays clothed in exotic skins. — JENNIFER WEIL
DIVERSE DEMAND: Live Tinted has closed a Series A fundraising round of $10 million led by Monogram Capital Partners. Other investors are Unilever Ventures, Devonshire Partners and Silas Capital. The beauty brand has secured $15 million to date.
Founded by Deepica Mutyala in 2018, Live Tinted has sold 1 million units since launch. Mutyala’s rise began with a viral video; in 2015 she posted a tutorial YouTube clip on how to cover dark under-eye circles with red lipstick, which has accumulated 10 million views. Mutyala proceeded to launch the brand with a multiuse corrector, Huestick, as she grew her community. The hero product quickly sold out and accumulated a 10,000-plus-person waitlist, according to the brand.
“My team and I are committed to creating solution-oriented products for a diverse community led by our consumers’ demand, and this investment will help us do just that, along with support further expansion with our retail partner, Ulta, and bring on additional executive hires to join our team,” Mutyala told WWD exclusively. “Live Tinted has important innovative launches in the works for the rest of 2023 and beyond, and we’re so grateful to be able to use this funding to spread the mission of Live Tinted wider.”
Mutyala’s focus has been on developing makeup and skin care goods for all skin types and tones. Along with accelerating retail growth at Ulta Beauty and implementing additional marketing and executive hires, Mutyala plans to use the new funds for product innovation and category expansion.
“When choosing who to partner with, Monogram looks to forward-thinking entrepreneurs and brands with a defined vision to create innovative and differentiated products for a diverse and ever-evolving audience. We believe Live Tinted is exactly that,” said Oliver Nordlinger, partner and cofounder of Monogram Capital Partners. “In our collaboration with Live Tinted, we will help champion the brand in its next phase of growth. We couldn’t be more thrilled about the partnership.”
Additional backers include Montage Ventures, which led the brand’s $3 million seed round of funding, as well as Halogen Ventures, Curate Capital and Fearless Fund. — RYMA CHIKHOUNE
FEMALE FOUNDERS DAY: The Female Founder Collective, cofounded by Rebecca Minkoff and Alison Wyatt, will host its annual all-day event, Female Founders Day: Find Your North, timed to Women’s History Month, on March 23 at Rolling Greens in Los Angeles.
Female Founders Day was created as an initiative to support founding women in business to help them achieve success on their terms. The event incorporates workshops and opportunities to connect and network for a full day.
Speakers will include Heidi D’Amelio, cofounder of D’Amelio Brands; Amy Liu, chief executive officer and founder of Tower 28; Camilla Marcus, chef, founder and activist at West-bourne; Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles and Pizzana, and author of “Sweet Success”; Claire Wasserman, founder and author of “Ladies Get Paid”; Ellen Marie Bennett, founder and chief brand officer of Hedley & Bennett; Madison Utendahl, founder and chief creative officer of Utendahl Creative; Noora Raf Brown, executive vice president of brand at Goop; Nyakio Greico, cofounder of Thirteen Lune and founder of Relevant Skin, and Wyatt, cofounder of The Female Collective, start-up adviser and angel investor.
“We believe that by coming together, women will change the world. Through Female Founders Day, we seek to bring diverse founders together to educate them to drive one another’s collective success, on whatever terms they choose,” said Minkoff.
Wyatt added: “This year we’re putting an emphasis on ‘Finding Your North,’ to convince women to stop trying to go at it alone, and deliberately ask for a seek out a support system, even if it’s transactional. Our goal is to give women the keys to unlock their next chapter of success through access to an invaluable network of mentors and advisors for support and guidance.”
The pandemic has contributed to increased gender inequality in the workforce, according to McKinsey & Co. PitchBook found that women-founded start-ups raised only 1.9 percent of all VC funds in 2022, a significant drop from the 2.4 percent all-women teams raised in 2021. — LISA LOCKWOOD