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Chic HK Group Aims to Liberate World from Neckties
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Dismissing neckties as antiquated soup bibs and fancy choke collars, a Hong Kong group of power dressers wants to promote the Chinese mandarin collar as a stylish alternative for the modern man.

Launched on Tuesday, the Mandarin Collar Society, which includes prominent businessmen and socialites, urged men the world over to "reorient" and "liberate" themselves from ties and embrace the short, stand-up collar worn loosely around the neck.

"I'm not declaring war against the tie, we're just trying to find an alternative to Western elegance by bringing a style that belongs to the Orient," said society visionary Raphael le Masne de Chermont, executive chairman of luxury retailer Shanghai Tang.

The society's tongue-in-cheek manifesto describes the necktie as "antiquated", "something for adversaries to grab in a fight" and an accessory inviting "enslavement" by reminding the wearer that his bosses have him by the neck.

"I've always felt comfortable in a mandarin collar, it's a very practical costume," said Andrew Yuen, a Hong Kong Chinese socialite and founding member of the society. "One would always feel more comfortable with one's own ethnic costume."

Fans of the mandarin collar aren't exclusively Chinese. Shanghai Tang has enlisted the support of former British sprinting great Linford Christie and Michelin starred French chef Pierre Gagnaire to spread the gospel with Western men.

"We're in China here, and China has to reinvent its own code of conduct and elegance and we're trying to contribute to that," said Le Masne, a Frenchman who now only wears mandarin collars.

"You will see that in four or five years it will be perfectly acceptable to wear a mandarin collar at business meetings."

(Agencies via CRI.cn April 19, 2007)

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