Stylist, creative consultant and designer Priscilla I’Anson, the brains behind the independent “modern classics” brand PI’A, has worked in the fashion industry in various roles ever since she graduated in 2010.
The Taiwanese-Australian started as a buyer at Lane Crawford, and in less than a decade she has snagged the role of Fashion Director for Asia’s Next Top Model; started her own consulting agency, Style Regime; and founded online contemporary womenswear label PI’A.
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PI’A’s elegant collections of elevated classics are currently being showcased at a pop-up store in Pacific Place, which runs from June 1 to July 31. Ahead of the launch party, we caught up with Priscilla to pick her brain for style tips and shopping secrets.
How did you get your start in fashion?
I’ve loved fashion since I was baby. I didn’t want to go to the playground during the weekends—I wanted to go shopping at Lane Crawford with my mum. I studied Economics at university, but the whole time I was doing internships in fashion.
Right after I graduated, this completely random act by the higher spirits happened. I was shopping in On Pedder one day, and this woman asked where I got my shoes from. We started talking, and it turns out she was Vice-President of the Pedder Group! I ended up getting a job as a buyer. To work for them was a dream come true.
Were your parents or grandparents also very interested in fashion?
My family has nothing to do with fashion! My father works in the legal industry; my mum’s in medicine. My grandparents from Taiwan owned a beef noodle shop, and my grandparents in Australia had a construction business.
But my mum was very interested in design and style, and she would always take me shopping: at a young age I learned about fit, colour and texture. And my dad has always been incredibly conscious of quality and material. He’s a very classic man—he’s in a full suit every day, even in the 30-degree heat. But it’s always the best material, brand, and construction. So I learned about quality from my dad, and style from my mum.
How did PI’A first get started?
I started the brand in 2015, because I had so many clients telling me that they were trying to find interesting clothes that were not too complicated, that were well made and at an affordable price point. I couldn’t find it for them. I thought to myself, “this is ridiculous. Why doesn’t it exist? We need it.” So I decided to do it myself.
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Can you describe PI’A in 3 words?
Modern, classic, sophisticated.
What’s your design process like?
When I approach each collection, my mindset is really about what I need and want right now. What do my friends, my clients, the women I admire need? What’s missing in their wardrobes?
What are your biggest sources of inspiration?
My inspiration definitely comes from the women around me. It’s weird for me to name muses, because it’s not anyone who’s famous or well known. A lot of them are my clients from styling work, friends, or my cousin or my mum. They’re real women with genuine needs that are not being fulfilled.
Are there any international designers or brands that you really admire?
I love Céline. I love [creative director] Phoebe Philo. I think she is a designer that really designs for women. Ever since I started designing clothes I don’t really buy fashion from other people, but I always buy from Céline when I can. I love what she’s doing.
What’s your go-to outfit?
Definitely an interesting shirt with denim. It could be one of my deconstructed button-ups or an interesting silk top, but always paired with denim: jeans or cut-offs. My choice in footwear is similar to my brand. I like things that are classy with a twist, like these silver metallic Supergas I’ve been wearing a lot.
I always try to choose one piece that’s grounded and a wardrobe staple. It could be denim, black pants or a black mini skirt, and I style around that in a more interesting way.
What are your top three style tips?
1. Get things altered to fit you. At PI’A, we offer free alterations to our customers because we know that nobody is standard model size. I think that a good alteration can turn a hundred-dollar dress into a thousand-dollar one.
2. Have fun. Fashion is about expression—it should bring you joy each day. Don’t ever feel like it’s a chore.
3. Know your personal style and stay true to that. Don’t let trends sway you in another direction. Don’t let a salesperson force you into buying something that you know in your heart isn’t you. Be authentic to yourself and stay strong.
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You've been a buyer and a stylist for seven years. Can you share a shopping secret?
If you think something’s too expensive, it probably is. A lot of people mark up clothing just because it’s got a brand name on it. I don’t think customers are so easily swayed by that anymore.
Be smart about the decisions that you make when it comes to purchasing. Invest in pieces that you know you’ll wear again and again. That’s the best way to get the most value out of something.
What’s in store for you and PI’A in the future?
I really hope that we can parlay this pop-up shop into something that is long term. To work with Swire at Pacific Place and have a permanent store here would be an absolute dream come true.
See how Priscilla styles her popular 'St. Germain' shirt in five different ways below:
Visit the PI’A popup from June 1 to July 31 at Level 2, Area G, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong.
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