When it opened its doors in 2015 Alan Yao described Park Chinois as, not a restaurant project but an entertainment lifestyle project. He was betting on old school nostalgic romance, he called it the haiku swing, a mixture of the Cotton Club meets Japanese haiku. Welcome to 1930s Shanghai!
I had previously done commissions for two other Alan Yao brands, Hakkasan and Yauatcha but I was absolutely blown away with the over the top opulence of Park Chinois. I was commissioned to shoot independently, with complete access, for 5 days for a brand book project. The initial idea was to focus solely on the front of house but, having spent time in catering myself, I suggested we give it a complete 360° and document the people that made this whole song and dance possible.
The 5 day commission turned into a two year long retainer but sadly not a brand book. It was an incredible experience though, as a photographer, to turn up and shoot such a varied fare. Everything from documentary reportage and BTS, to interiors, food and drink and portraits to some of the most amazing entertainment ever seen in a London restaurant! There were burlesque dancers, opera singers, magicians and jazz performers, you name it. It is still there so if your wallet can handle it, join the party!