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Power dressing finale

It's often said that Hong Kong moves faster than other places. And staff at Indosuez WI Carr can testify to just how quickly life can change. In the space of a week the firm went from all the bacchanalia associated with a bull market to huge job cuts.

The bacchanalia accompanied the firm's Christmas party, which is usually adjudged the best of the festive season. The bash was dedicated to the movie Austin Powers, released last summer. The film is a send-up of 1960s British spy movies, and has Powers (Mike Myers) dressing badly at every opportunity.

Clients and staff were asked to do likewise. One senior manager commissioned Hong Kong's finest 24-hour tailor to make him a suit from chequered yellow and black cloth, complete with lime-green lining, which he wore with a lime shirt, lime loafers and a pair of geeky Austin Powers-style spectacles. The best dressed of the evening were awarded the title of "Pussy Queen" and "Pussy King".

To familiarize clients with the party's idiom WI Carr had even sent out Austin Powers videos. But even before the party, rumours were rife that something was amiss. There was gossip that the bosses in Paris were asking Carr's senior managers to contribute to the party's cost.

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