Iran-born, Stockholm-raised, London-based make up artist Ala Hojat on teaching, island-hopping and trying to avoid Hello Kitty toiletries in Hong Kong.
I just got back from a period spent teaching Hair and Make-Up in Hong Kong. They put me up in the T Hotel for six weeks. The university [I was teaching at] is the equivalent of University of the Arts in London – there are lots of sub-universities within in, and one of them is a training hotel, which is where I was staying. You’re being served by students who are being trained to work in luxury hotels, so the environment has to be like a five star hotel but you’re paying half the price. So you get a really nice place to stay, and you’re also supporting the students’ education. It’s right opposite this old shanty town – the contrasts in Hong Kong are insane.
I was out there teaching, doing seminars and overseeing hair and make-up two massive fashion graduate shows. I had thirty models, thirty student helpers, six celebrity models, producers shouting in my ear… It was crazy – two really, really stressful days – but apart from that it was amazing.
And the food – amazing. I’m not really into Chinese food but Hong Kong is great for every type of food. The Thai food…! My colleague took me to this place called Kowloon City, where only locals go, to this old-school restaurant… We had amazing shrimp sashimi, covered in fresh garlic and chilli, and this drink that I was obsessed with. It’s preserved lime – they put lime in a container with sea salt and close it up for six months – and then when they take it out it has this amazing taste. It’s not soury-limey, it’s just the taste of lime - you just mash it up in a glass with water, and it’s great with spicy food.
I decided to buy all my beauty products when I got out there, and everything I ended up with was pink – scissors, hairbrush, even my nail varnish remover was pink, and strawberry-scented.
So I ate a lot of good food, went to the beach, got a ferry to a neighbouring island. It’s actually really cheap in Hong Kong – the only thing that’s expensive is rent. I didn’t do that much shopping, I didn’t have time, but they have some really cool stuff. All the beauty products are Hello Kitty’d out. Because I was in Hong Kong for five weeks I decided to buy all my beauty products when I got out there, and everything I ended up with was pink – scissors, hairbrush, even my nail varnish remover was pink, and strawberry-scented. Usually I’m an ‘all black’ kind of girl, but when in Rome…
The tube system is amazing, there’s phone reception and air conditioning… Everything is so efficient. Even though it’s such a crowded city, not once was I crammed in someone’s armpit!www.alahojat.com