Asians in Fashion | Interview with Fashion Designer Sue Wong

It’s all about Gatsby, Gatsby, Gatsby these days and who better to take the fashion lead than Fashion Designer Sue Wong with the launch of her Fall Collection titled none other than, “The Great Gatsby”.  At her recent birthday party/fashion preview, the Hollywood crowd amazed donning flapper girl dresses, beads and crystals galore with men dappered out in their suit and ties.  The red carpet was rolled out for celebrities in attendance such as Kelsey Grammer and his wife, actor Thomas Jane to the pop band Blush.

Wong is a fashion legacy known to create her collections centered around films such as “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Oz: The Great and Powerful” in the past.  For her Gatsby Collection, Wong wanted to “…bring to life the spirit of an era that Fitzgerald flawless depicted in his novel…” which is delicately designed in her flapper dresses that are decorated with rich beading and fringed skirts.  Audrey caught up with Wong as she describes who the Sue Wong woman is, the soulfulness of style and her hard knocks advice on getting into the fashion biz.

AM:  Your dresses exude elegance, femininity and a timeless aspect. How do you describe the Sue Wong woman?
SW:  The Sue Wong woman is a creative romantic at heart but very strong and confident in her sense of style and in her philosophy of life…deeply feminine, she is connected with her inner Goddess – in touch with the Feminine Divine. Her look, her fashion sensibility is a reflection of a sophisticated, glamorous outlook. She has verve and taste for the finer things in life. No matter what stage she is in her life – whether she’s young and just starting out in her career or already at the top of her game, she is strong yet vulnerable.

AM:  If you had to choose a muse from the Gatsby era, who would it be?
SW:  In the 1920s, the ravishing stars of the silver screen dazzled with their beauty and elegance. Women like Norma Talmadge, Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford- and Zelda  Fitzgerald herself, the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald – exuded a new stylish modernism and grace that would have made any of them an ideal muse!

AM:  Who is your style icon?
SW:  I have always had a natural affinity for Old Precode Hollywood Glamour. The actresses of that era are my style icons. They epitomize my design sensibility in which femininity was defined by the allure of glamour and elegance. I always draw upon that concept of beauty not only on a mere superficial level, but underscored by a soulful passion that can only emanate from a deeper place – from the level of spirit.

AM:  Does your culture influence your pieces and aesthetics of your collections? Is that important to you?
SW: Yes, I am greatly influenced by global culture, as I am enthralled by colorful indigenous culture, whether it be Indonesian, Moroccan, Spanish Gypsy, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian Japanese, Southeast Asian or Native American. I was born an artist and merely use fashion as my creative medium of expression.

Being an artist sets me apart from other people. For one, as artists, our perception of the world is decidedly different. One’s psychic sense and awareness of the world is heightened, more keen and acute. We are more sensitive as we are more connected to ethereal essences. Creativity is fueled by passion, intrinsically intuitive and also requires being well-versed in any visual language.

I am a creative intuitive. I channel creative energy that I pull from the Ether in order to bring full expression into any subject matter. One can easily use the same creative force to design environments, interiors, furniture, gardens, jewelry, shoes, handbags, etc – that transcends all cultures and present a universal appeal.

AM:  There are so many Asian designers in hot demand these days. Was it ever more challenging to try and prove yourself as an Asian designer when you were first starting out?
SW:  I believe that my clothes transcend race identification as well as age and time.  My designs are timeless classics which are timely in any era or age…I don’t care to be categorized as Asian, per se. Even though I am proud of my Chinese heritage, I am in fact, an artist without borders or ethnicity. Real art has no such limits or boundaries…there are only good design artists and bad ones.

AM:  What’s the best advice you like to give to aspiring artists and fashion designers?
SW:  Fashion, like all other art forms, requires a full commitment. It is creative, fun and ultimately fulfilling but 90% of the time behind the scenes, it is not very glamorous. One needs focus, commitment, dedication and discipline – a singular passion and ambition. A true artist must sacrifice herself to her Art. Many people aspire to becoming a designer but many fail because only the most dedicated and steadfast will survive and make it. Even the most talented must work hard, remain true to one’s vision – and stay true on the path of one’s dreams. As Joseph Campbell taught, “Follow your bliss”.

AM:  Can you give us a hint about next year’s birthday theme?
SW:  I live in the moment in order to fully extract and experience the moment at its fullest. So all I can tell you is that it will be glamorous, it will be beautiful and it will be dazzling. In other words, it will be Sue Wong.


Photo Credit: Bobby Heller / Opus Reps (not red carpet)