Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dear Joyce Ma, I Remember ...

Dear Joyce,

I remember your arrival at the Duca in Milano. You and your sister stepped out of the tiny yellow cab without any luggage. Suddenly, the car port was filled with five more tiny cabs overflowing with your luggage and many overwrought bellmen.

I remember running into you everywhere back when that was a handful of places: Armani, Versace, Missoni, Moschino, Gaultier, Ferre, Biagiotti, Chloe, Jean Muir, Zandra ... we'd greet each other in the same way, you beautifully made up and fresh, asking what was good, what was new. For a long time, the answer was not so much new but everything was good.

I remember that you could speak five languages, fluently and elegantly; I struggled with high school French which required a 45rpm speed in a 78 rpm world. My Italian was limited to a raised eyebrow, open hands flung to the sky and magnificent sighs along with enthusiastic shakes of my head. Pronto and a wee bit more.

I remember than you became good friends with the designers and they were loyal to you. I remember the boutiques you opened for so many. I remember that you loved good fashion and recognized it immediately.

I remember dinner together in Hong Kong with you looking at the menu with disdain and discreetly saying what you would really like to have. Oops, that cigarette could have been mine.

Impossibly chic and more clever than the rest of the buyers, I think.

Congratulations, and Hong Kong has been very lucky all these years.

Madeleine Gallay


  1. Quite an accomplishment! Thank you for sharing those memories.

  2. Oh isn't she fantastic? I love her Joyce boutiques in HK.... they still have the best and most unique selection you won't find anywhere else. I was so glad when I found her boutique in Paris as well. HK definitely owes her a lot in terms of bringing collections from unheard designers to the city.

  3. Fantastic and elegant. During years that amazing famous name stores failed, including Gene Pressman's Barneys, she did beautifully.

  4. So glad that someone foreign recognizes Madame Ma's contribution to Hong Kong fashion for over 30 years. However, ever since her retirement, the new management has shown little respect, I think. The founder was not even mentioned at the new website or the 40th anniversary celebration, and that's scandalous.

  5. Dear Anonymous, Confused ... I thought the celebration went on for days. Diane Pernet did interviews with almost all the designers Joyce had worked with as a tribute, the museum party was all for Joyce. I'm not foreign, the language of fashion buying binds us as do my memories of her drifting into any one of seven languages fluently. I remember her sister in the early years and later more help. But always it was Joyce. Always.


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