Written by Robert Walker
When Jenny Lewis’s daughter married in the crypt chapel of the palace of Westminster her mother gained not only a son but a whole new life. For Jenny Lewis, the Hong Kong dress designer who over the last decade has established an international reputation for her glittery evening gowns, was “born again”. “That’s when I first saw truth,” she said of her daughter’s wedding. “Read Corinthians 13, it’s all about love. Truth and love is what we are all here for; total giving.”
Lazing on an elegant sofa in her chaotic, Mid- Levels apartment, then doubling as office and workshop, Lewis was barefoot and dressed in one of her own creations of deep-red pants and a heavily beaded top. She looked much more the part of the jet-set designer than a born-again Christian. Sipping a gin-and-tonic, she explained:
“Before I found truth and love, I was an incestuous mess. Now I am enjoying the most wonderful spiritual path. After the wedding, as I flew back from London, I felt the spirit was with me and I ran straight to St. John’s Cathedral to a beautiful service. Then I ran straight to a bible study group and shot a thousand questions at the dean. But it all started from the wedding.”
One milestone for Lewis on her new-found spiritual path was separating her business and personal lives. The breezy, blonde Englishwoman is vague with names but recalls “an American reverend who took me to dinner at the Mandarin Grill, my favourite restaurant on earth. He’s an extremely successful reverend who runs two churches in Dallas and is very, very rich. He explained how to unmix it. ‘A business is a business is a business,’ he said. ‘So that’s how you run it and if somebody doesn’t perform, they go’.”
Apparently, this advice was what brought Lewis to the rationalisation of her own business. She closed two of her Hong Kong shops and an office and fired 23 people. And suddenly she found her business was more and more successful. “The profits are incredible, amazing – sometimes I don’t believe it.” She claims to be “very good at making money; the nuns taught me all about that .