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Tina Leung’s big break in the fashion industry is one for the books. The stylist, street style icon, and new star of Bling Empire: New York landed her first gig while she was at the hair salon in Hong Kong.
“I had my test sheets and my portfolio with me,” Leung said. “I showed my hairstylist, who was like, ‘Oh, let me show this one guy here who is starting a magazine.'”
The opportunity served as a stepping stone for Leung, as that chance encounter landed her her first job in the fashion industry at Prestige magazine. The rest, as they say, is hairstory.
In the latest episode of Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr, Leung shares how she went from working in fashion to landing a starring role on Bling Empire plus which pieces in her closet she continues to wear over and over again. For excerpts from their conversation, scroll below, and for the full conversation, be sure to tune in to the Who What Wear podcast.
Can you talk a little bit about how you found your way to fashion?
My first love was actually the theater. I love acting and I love being on stage. I don’t know about now—I don’t know if I’d still love that—I get so scared of anything with speaking, like this podcast. I went to Bates College because my dad wanted me to go to a liberal arts college. All I took were acting classes and theater classes.
I transferred to the University of Bristol and studied theater, film, and television. During the three years, I was on a plane somewhere, and I realized I didn’t want to kiss any strangers or any one who wasn’t my boyfriend at the time. It was like an epiphany on the plane.
So I decided, “Okay, what is my next favorite thing?” That is fashion. That was—is—fashion.
Magazines were the thing that got my heart racing every single month. I’d run to the newsstands and pick up everything—all the magazines—and flip to the back and look at the fashion editorials and think to myself, “How do I do this?”
During summer vacations and Christmas, I’d go and assist stylists. From there, I got a job at a magazine— Prestige magazine in Hong Kong.
I was still studying the one-year course at FIT, and it was so helpful. They even taught you how to invoice. I was back in Hong Kong for the summer getting my hair cut. I had my test sheets and my portfolio with me. I showed my hairstylist, who was like, “Ooh, let me show this one guy here who is starting a magazine.”
It was Gordon Lam, and he was starting Prestige. I got the job as whatever I could do. It was such a small team that I basically did anything that they asked me.
I stayed one year there, but I think as an Aries, I just couldn’t work at a 9-to-5. I went freelance after that.
You obviously have incredible personal style. I’m interested in the things that you wear over and over again.
Leather pants. I’m wearing these ones from Frankie Shop right now. I’ve been wearing them at least three times a week. It’s just so good with anything.
There’s this one to Chopova Lowena skirt I wear all the time. Every time I go out, I get at least two to three compliments.
I think a great double-breasted blazer is always amazing. This Saint Laurent one I have with the big shoulders and it even has the satin pocket square. That I wear as a jacket or a dress out. I have this Mugler corset that I wear all the time under things, over things.
A great leather jacket. I have a faux-leather one from Helsa, Elsa Hosk’s line. I love big shoulders. It just gives me so much confidence. For winter, I love a great thigh-high boot.
What about some statement pieces that you think are worth investing in or special pieces? I know it’s different for everyone, but what are some of those maybe overlooked investment items that people will not regret and wear over and over again?
I don’t know if this overlooked, but a really great coat. I’m eyeing this gold sequin one from Valentino right now. I would love that forever and pass it on to my son or daughter.
I am, as you know, I’m obsessed with shoes. They’re getting more and more expensive. They’re getting crazy price lately, but I still would invest in those because I still have shoes from 2005 or whatever.
A really great bag, as you know. The Hermès Mini Kelly. I’ve been just obsessed with those because they are just the right size to fit maybe three lipsticks or lip glosses, my wallet, keys, and some candy. That’s all I need.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Next up, check out our previous episode featuring Ashley Benson.