Interviews

Sue Wong is indubitably a woman of vision, strength, and passion. She is a style icon who by the beauty of her designs inspires women to feel and look divine and statuesque. At a very young age, Sue found her passion for creativity and since then has created a legacy of beauty, magic, and transformation. Besides being a fashion visionary, she is a wise business woman who has created and maintained a successful empire of her own. As a matter of fact, her domination of the fashion industry and business skills have made her brand become globally known. We had the privilege of interviewing Sue Wong and we found her words to be very insightful and inspirational. ​

Q: What does fashion mean to you?

SW – Fashion should be creative and fun–an individual mode of creative, personal expression. I admire someone who puts themselves together in a highly eclectic, individualistic manner as to be a unique work of temporal art. I am not into classics for women–too safe and predictable! I admire the REAL designers who have a strong sense of signature and style.  Fashion to me should be more about individual style as opposed to following the evanescent dictates of any trend.

Q: How would you describe your personal style?

SW – I’ve created a very unique, one-of-a-kind SUE WONG look, inspired by the old Hollywood Golden era which is synonymous with my creative voice, design sensitivities, and sensibilities. I create couture gowns with impeccable workmanship available at everyday prices.  I consider myself to be every woman’s couturier.  I’m a maximalist, so I don’t like – nor do I allow myself – to be confined by any one single given genre, art movement. I create incomparable hybrids that traverse all time laterally, but most importantly gives today’s woman what she needs most – a sense of self-confidence, self-respect, and self-esteem. The SUE WONG look exemplifies glamour, beauty, romance, style, femininity, and is a homage to the Eternal Goddess that resides in every woman. My mantra is Beauty. Magic. Transformation. For the rest of it, I will refer you to a paragraph from my bio:
“Sue Wong never fails to astonish, employing the revered age-old couture techniques implemented by the finest Couture houses in Europe, and evoking the allure and glamour of various eras such as Weimar Berlin, 1930s Shanghai, Precode Hollywood and Manhattan’s gilded Jazz Age.  While often adopting a vintage style, every design belongs in the now and is decidedly very Sue Wong; exquisite fabrics shimmering with incandescent beads, unique embroideries and layered textures embellished with passementerie and soutache combine to create works of art that are graceful, elegant, unique and timelessly beautiful.”

Fashion, like excellent art, is an entire odyssey – an enticing mythology that arrests our innermost sensitivities.  I design with this in mind.  It’s a story of external as well as internal Transformation – empowering women along the way. It’s the epitome of a fairytale expressed through color, fabric, texture and beautiful composition.

Q: When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?

SW –  I made my first blouse with my Mom’s sewing machine when I was 9 years old out of a scrap of fabric and some lace.  In junior high and high school, I insisted upon designing and sewing myself a new dress for each weekly dance of the school year. I created my own senior prom dress, adorned with beads hand sewn into the bodice.  It was in my blood.  It was my calling and when something is your calling and destiny, then the talent flows effortlessly.  Through hard work, unwavering commitment and seriousness-of-purpose, I witnessed how my immigrant parents made incredible sacrifices so that I could have better opportunities. I definitely followed their model of hard work and dogged determination.  I am a strong personality; I wanted freedom and starting a business was a doorway to my freedom and being on my own–championing independence and self-sufficiency.

If I could not create, I’d be terribly unhappy. I consider myself first and foremost an artist and have chosen fashion as my designated artistic, expressive medium.  Being a child of struggling immigrants, toys were sparse and my Mother gave me a canister filled with beads which became my prized toy.  The writing was on the wall. Today, I am known as the Queen of Beads. Truthfully, my design philosophy and iconographic sensitivities translate into other mediums which my historic, landmark home The Cedars illustrates powerfully.  I believe above and beyond that you have to be true to your voice; pay respect and act upon the integrity that you owe to your sense of self, whatever that may be…it has to reflect your inner truth to the point of Divinity.  I find that in and through designing and in turn, design has found that in me.

Q: Tell us one piece of advice you wish someone gave you at the beginning of your career.

SW –  Be prepared to work hard. Those who are afraid to work should go and seek other safer 9 to 5 work.  I always tell my assistants that this is not a typical eight hour work day.  The business of fashion is, in fact, a lot of busy work.  It is creative, it is fun, but 90% of the time, it is non-glamorous.  As in any art, one must be prepared to sacrifice and give of oneself at the altar of their Art…it is one hundred percent commitment, dedication and requires singular ambition, focus, and the discipline to follow through.  Of course, the talent must overwhelmingly be there.  Many people want to be designers or want to be one, but the majority will either fall out because either the talent is not there; or else the ability to be disciplined or to be fully present for the task at hand will weed them out.  Only the best, most dedicated and the most focused will survive and make it.

Don’t ever regress in the face of adversity.  Everything that comes your way in life is a part of your overall journey…that which forges your destiny. I lost everything I built twice and twice I rebuilt it and grew stronger than my former self.  If there is a fire and you are the equivalent of a moth, then plunge yourself into the fire…knowingly…even it means you have to crash and burn…so that ultimately you resurrect yourself into the Phoenix that you truly are. This way you keep growing. You keep evolving and not only strive for but achieve and keep building on your quantum potential and what you have to offer, both personally and professionally.

Never take no for an answer.  Never allow other people to limit your possibilities by accepting the projections of their very own limitations onto yourself.
Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to take chances and be absolutely fearless about it and just really GO for it…BE FEARLESS!
Have a vision.
Hold that vision.
Being true to that vision (be a closer…or don’t bother at all).

Q: Is there a specific theme that inspires you to create a gown?

SW – My SUE WONG gowns harken back to Hollywood’s golden era, epitomizing an unprecedented and timeless Glamour and Magic. My muses are a constellation of iconic silver screen Goddesses and Sirens – Norma Talmadge, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Jean Harlow (to mention a few).  My designs are steeped in mystique and exude an infinite romance which has always passionately inspired me. These iconic silver screen goddesses resonate an odyssey of seduction, a sensual, evocative, poetic lushness embodied in each and every one of my gowns.

I am inspired by all high-quality Art, by Nature, by my travels, by life experience, old Hollywood films, from my sense of higher SELF. It all comes from a higher realm, and I honor that gift and legacy that has been given to me. I am pleased to have been practicing my art for many years.  The creativity regenerates me, keeps me youthful, and has been empowering both as an artist and as a woman. I believe and practice the Art of Living from my ancient ancestors. Everything and everyone is cosmically inter-connected. I was brought up in the way of the Tao.  However, I see myself as being beyond borders, beyond culture, beyond religion, beyond any given categorization – all of which reflects itself and speaks through my designs across all mediums I work within.  This profound message and inspiration filters and manifests itself into the transformation couture and designs which I create.

Q: How long does it take you to construct a piece?

SW – Fashion is the fastest moving of all the art forms.  It occurs less than every two and a half months for me, as we have five Seasons a year to deal with and therefore to create.  The velocity and speed with which we move are staggering. Architecture moves every decade: the tempo for interior design is every three to five years; music moves and changes every six months.  In fashion, there is always new kinds of movements going on — it is never in stasis, it is visually exciting and inspiring work and challenges me to be at my most productive and prolific.  I have an enormous creative fire, and I live to create.  Fashion stokes and fuels that creative fire very much, as I put out a total of more than 1500 designs a year.  On a very productive day, I have created over 59 designs. The process of manifesting the design and concept into a physical sample requires a highly-detailed examination and very often results in several revisions until the SUE WONG signature of quality is delivered.

Q: What goes through your mind at the moment you are about to send out the first model during your fashion shows?

SW – Presenting the quantum potential of my Brand’s voice and essence in its very best personification.  I select my SUE WONG models not only for their standards of beauty but for their grace and the way they walk and move. A sense of femininity and elegance is paramount.  Beauty is not only just skin deep, there has to be a soulfulness and passion that can only emanate from a place deeper–from Spirit and from Energy. Good models are also artists as they must be able to project and be emblematic of the designer’s original vision and style.  I also like lithe, tall girls–they must be at least 5’9, but under six feet tall. I want each and every one of my SUE WONG models to exemplify the mystique, allure and epitomized glamour of my brand in being inter-dimensional Goddesses and Emissaries of Beauty.

Q: What message do you want your brand to send out?

SW – The SUE WONG look exemplifies glamour, beauty, romance, style, femininity, and is a homage to the Eternal Goddess that resides in every woman. I practice a healing through beauty, invoked, awakened and represented in my designs applicable to a vast array of mediums.  I find myself in a natural progression in my long career and am in the process of transitioning from designing, manufacturing, and distribution into a pure license model. I have an impeccable designer name and an exquisite brand that I built up for the last thirty years.  I am keeping my intellectual property to license out to a broad category of Fashion, Home and Lifestyle classifications.  While maintaining my signature style of haute glamour and Designer sensibilities, SUE WONG will now enter the arena of Home, Lifestyle, Architecture and interiors. My Art and iconography of haute style is not exclusive to Fashion, but mutually expressive as a powerful conduit of healing through architecture and design.

As a designer whose sensibilities, sensitivities, and iconography transcend many genres and mediums, I have a heightened appreciation for architecture and how living spaces deliver safe havens and paradigms that exemplify who we are, celebrating all aspects that make us individuals — from spatial configurations, textures, colors, ambiance, atmosphere, lines and Life as an experiential art itself.  Architecture to me is the forever-evolving living sculptural embodiment that celebrates all these multidimensional realms that optimize a pleasant living experience.

Q: What matters to you the most as a fashion designer?

SW – I have always been intrigued and love to examine the Seduction of fashion.  We live in a time when everything is over-exposed. We have become desensitized. Whatever happened to the power of Glamour? – the beautiful, evocative journey of discovering a precious rose at the very epicenter of a beautifully-layered blossom.  The act of mutual (self-) discovery and incredible journey of Seduction that unfolds are incomparable.  Less is always far more and it is spell-binding to see how dresses that cover a greater percentage of the female body are by far sexier, evocative and exude poetic, undeniable seduction than the otherwise forced over-exposure that in a way has imploded on itself.

Fashion design tells a story and is a form of literature unto itself.  Quality Art is always a story. Excellent Art is an entire Odyssey – an enticing mythology that grabs at our most inner sensitivities. I design with this in mind.  My mantra is Beauty ~ Magic ~ Transformation.  It’s a story of external as well as internal Transformation – empowering women.  It’s the quintessential fairy tale seen through the eyes of fabric, texture and paramount presentation.  My gowns awaken the Feminine Divine and honor the inner Goddess that resides in every woman.  For this reason, I offer the woman who wears SUE WONG an experience of Transformation through the doorway of beauty.

Q: You’re an international designer; is there a country you are interested in having your brand take over?

SW – I have a vision to build a global brand within the next five years, starting with creating an iconic brand for China and offering the language of SUE WONG Glamour, Beauty, Magic as a Transformative Lifestyle–touching upon Home, Lifestyle, Architecture and Interiors – in addition to other fashion-related products as well as fragrance, cosmetics and skin care. Nearly 6000 years of DNA memory cannot be erased, and I think the aspect of Chinese culture and the philosophy of the East that inspires me is the profound consciousness and awareness of cause and consequence or the basic law of Karma.  Everything and everyone is cosmically inter-connected. Existence is a form of “Cloud Atlas”.  I think there is a powerful DNA memory that runs within our veins.  Whether we are aware of it or not, it certainly translates into our art, our creations. I think we’re living in a time when Globalization is creating revolutionary progress in culture, literature, philosophy, art, fashion and all things Life.  That said, I am the quintessential “hybrid”.  I have made my career in the West, but certainly, carry the voice of my heritage. The future has a way of creeping up on us much faster than expected.  It’s no longer about the East vs the West (and vice-versa). The Human race can no longer afford to perceive things in oppositions, but rather in symbiosis.  Not too long ago, world economists predicted that the only future paradigm that would guarantee world economies would be the concept of “Chimerica”. That is no longer a theory. It is in the Here and Now and yes, rather serendipitously (although I never believe in any accidents) my designs do carry this hybridized message – a bridge between the East and the West because that is who I am.  It is my calling to complete my journey and fulfill the crucial role of Cultural Hero to my Motherland.  I would like to return to China as Her prodigal daughter; to return and impart culture, spirituality, and refinement through my design work across the spectrum of Home, Lifestyle, Architecture, and Interiors – a natural diversification of the SUE WONG brand.

Q: We currently live in a ‘social media era’, how do you believe it has affected or helped the fashion industry?

SW – Social media is a big tool that I use and implement. It’s free advertising.  Instead of spending thousands of dollars on outsourced marketing campaigns, social media arms you with an infinite possibility of extending your brand and awareness. I have created my very own myth and I am an avid implementer of social media.

Q: If you could dress anyone in the world living or dead who would it be and why?

SW – I’d like to dress Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman.  Both women are not only powerful successful actresses, but what intrigues me, even more, is that their strength and character empowerment is synonymous with the gowns that I design. I create transformative clothing and when a woman puts on a SUE WONG she channels her optimal potential, her Divine self, the Goddess that resides in each and every woman.  My design philosophy of living the Divine Goddess that lies within a woman, adorning the likes of such very strong women, would be a fascinating observation.

Please enjoy this lovely video shared by Sue Wong!!

I hope you enjoyed my interview with Sue Wong and found her story to be a source of inspiration for you. I would like to thank Sue Wong and her wonderful team for allowing this interview to happen!  

Barby (Yvanna). xX

{Images provided by Sue Wong}