Even as a child, I was very fussy with what I liked to wear. My mum was a seamstress, and I used to spend time watching her sew traditional Malay outfits – baju kurungs and kebayas – on her vintage Singer machine. When I couldn’t find exactly what I liked, I’d [ask] her to make some pieces specifically for me.
It’s important for a fashion designer to be skilful in drafting from scratch. I studied at Central St Martins in London for a year to develop my creative pattern-cutting skills [before earning a degree] in fashion womenswear. I started my own label [straight after] I was done with my studies. I wanted to learn through my own experiences and mistakes.
Every single day is a challenge to remain contemporary as a designer. It’s been an exciting journey with ups and downs, but most importantly it’s been a process [of] constant growth. Learning is a part of evolving as a designer.
Some designers draw inspiration from urban street fashion, while others draw from past couture, but it’s [all about] having a signature that is recognisable and distinctive.
I love collecting beautiful, intricate pieces: vintage textiles, objets d’art and fabulous antiques [from] markets all around the world and auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
Artists are [affected] by their environment. The French Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin’s best paintings, in my opinion, [were informed] by French Polynesia, with its people, light and culture. I love living in London as it’s a multicultural melting pot with international influences and a vibrant history.
Singapore is home – that’s where my heart is. After all, I am still a Singaporean
Architecture fascinates me. I built my own villa in Bali from just a piece of land with no water supply or electricity. It was a wonderful journey. Hence, Baby Love Consultancy was born, [combining] my love for contemporary architecture and lush interiors.
Creating bespoke work for fabulous high-profile performers [like Lady Gaga, Florence Welch and Christina Aguilera] is fantastic, but my line of modern baju kurungs and kebayas is equally inspiring as it’s part of my heritage, which I am very proud of.
I am a perfectionist. Nothing goes out of the studio without me checking the quality and fit of a garment. The same applies in everything that I do. [Be it] interiors, architecture, furniture or bespoke products, quality is imperative.
I love working with decadent fabrics and bold colours. I have created my own bespoke prints for silk and linen and am currently working with a mill in France to develop a jacquard (woven fabric) that is very similar to a traditional Malay songket (brocade fabric).
Travel almost certainly inspires a collection. I was inspired by South American textiles, patterns and textures when I was travelling in Brazil. I’ve learnt new techniques watching Balinese craftsmen at work. The exclusive beachwear for my resort boutique in Seminyak Village, Bali [draws on] local crafts like batik.
I’m blessed to have been able to travel the world. Places that remain special include Tahiti, Marquesas Islands, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Siem Reap. My sanctuary is Bali.
Singapore is home – that’s where my heart is. After all, I am still a Singaporean.
This article was originally published in the August 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine.