The act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side;
also: The state of being so placed.
The look is everything, and key to the look is juxtaposition. The modern fashionista lives at the interstices of a bewildering multiplicity of cultural influences, a stampeding riot of colour, futurism, textures, and nostalgia.
If fashion is a religion, then Giorgio Armani is, quite simply, one of the gilded gods of that glittery pantheism - his single moniker crackling with the frisson of modernity, youth and beauty.
For decades, the world’s wealthiest and most beautiful have combined and draped his work triumphantly over themselves, plucking these myriad strings in the search for a chord that convinces, to create a look that is more art than flimsy artifice. Mixing and matching - juxtaposing - with true style often means the difference between sinking and swimming.
Juxtaposing world class Japanese and Italian cuisine in an exquisitely rendered truly modern setting and making them shine in the utterly elegant lack of comparison, David Yeo - founder of aqua restaurant group - displayed the same eclectic epicurean impulse as the most vaunted fashionistas. His emphatic declaration of a new and uniquely Hong Kong dining experience brought international acclaim to his first restaurant aqua.
Although a total ingénue to the hospitality business, Yeo set his sights on bringing to Hong Kong the kind of high temples of culinary invention to which he had grown so accustomed while a highflying corporate lawyer in London. Stellar Hong Kong successes such as ayuthaiya,WasabiSabi, La Marmite, Hutong, tivo and vivo showcase his exquisitely modern takes on Thai, Japanese, French, Chinese and Italian cuisine, while his restaurants in London and Beijing remain the talk of those two very special towns.
In a typically bold move, the Houses of Armani and Aqua, who have both done so much to shape the contemporary style of East and West, lay their aesthetic identities side by side with all the artistry for which such design giants as Armani and Yeo are renowned.
From its name down, the 140 capacity Armani/Aqua is a triumph of juxtaposition. The minimalist chic that imbues every fibre of Armani’s garments flows elegantly through every aspect of Yeo’s flawlessly confident restaurant design, wrought in natural stone, wood, glass and steel, and itself immediately recognisable by its refreshingly direct theatricality.
Beyond the grand double doors of this opulent space on the Second Floor of the elegant Chater House, the long vault-lined corridor invites guests to channel more with each stride the attitude and poise of supermodels on an Armani runway as they negotiate the luxuriously carpeted walkway.
Fashion is Yeo’s narrative, with the space dressing itself in the casual warmth of yellow tones during the day while, at night, ingenious design enables the a spectrum shift until the walls radiate the exotic mystique of what is known locally as big red, the rouge of the Chinese lantern.
Already charmed and glamorised in equal measure, diners are then invited to choose between some of the finest contemporary Japanese and Italian cuisine in Hong Kong - the Zen-inflected creations of the Chef Tatsuya Iwahashi or the “Pure Italian style” of Michelin-starred Chef Ernesto Tonetto. With two entirely distinct cuisines created by two entirely separate teams in separate kitchens, the unique aqua philosophy is a profound presence at Armani/Aqua, creating the simplicity of harmony instead of the confusion of fusion.
The sense of harmony soon pulses with the beat of the sophisticated cutting edge electronica tumbling out from the second fruit of Armani and Yeo’s intuitive collaboration. In what has already become an instant hotspot in Hong Kong’s spectacular nightlife, Armani/Privé - also found on Chater House’s Second Floor - is a combination of an ultra-chic 150 capacity lounge and a roof-top terrace that at once takes the breath away and then dips the senses into a luxuriously tranquil decadence.
In conceiving this latest Armani/Privé, there are already outposts in Milan, Tokyo and Dubai, Yeo and Armani sought to reinvigorate the art of the cocktail, the ultimate game of decadent mix and match, and drafted in top-tier mixologist Manuel Soro and his sense of classy anarchy to finesse the classics.
The unique intimacy of candlelight dances playfully with the deep and seductive red tones at Armani/Privé, flickering infinitely in the mirrored bar (again thanks to ingeniously subtle technology) and enveloping the collective secrets of the VIP section’s continuous sofa. The sounds are provided by Hallex.M, the renowned French DJ and producer who has played all over the world alongside such star names as Danny Krivit, Tahiti 80, Nickodemus and Bob Sinclair.
It is perhaps in the sultry environs of its rooftop terrace that the scale of Armani/Privé’s ambition can be seen. This metropolitan oasis sits at the beating heart of this twenty four hour vertical city, bathed in the ambient light from the clustered giants towering above, while at the same time apart, the candlelit garden laying a luxurious sense of grounded closeness against the vastness all around.
It is this trick that Giorgio Armani and David Yeo have pulled, the oldest and most dazzling in its simplicity, and the most difficult make work. At Armani/Aqua and Armani/Privé, these past masters of juxtaposition simply lay the most refined style, the most exquisite culture and the most opulent glamour side by side - their instinctive genius creating the taste, the look, for Hong Kong today as it parties long into the night.
- Benjamin Stewart
Armani/Aqua - Armani/Privé
Address: 8 Connaught Road Central
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 852 3583 2828
Armani/Aqua - Armani/Privé