Sue Wong is famous for her mastery of couture that embodies her personal design mantra of beauty, magic, and transformation. From her Shanghai roots to being inspired by Manhattan's gilded Jazz Age, designer Sue Wong is one of most influential fashion designers of Los Angeles.
Sue Wong, The Fashion Alchemist
JH - Whats your philosophy about the ART of fashion?
SW - I enjoy the visuality, glamour and the seduction of glamour, as it is a visual language. It is one of the visual arts, and 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.
JH - 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.
JH - What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
SW - I made my first blouse at age nine, from a scrap of fabric remnant that I got from J.J. Newberry's--the 5 & 10 cent store, sewed it up on my mom's home Singer machine and added a touch of eyelet lace at the bateau neckline--and Voila!! A new designer was born! I also designed and fabricated all my junior high and high school dresses--including my Senior prom dress--which I had hand-beaded the entire bodice...As you can see, BEADS were in my destiny!
JH - What are some of your accomplishments as a designer?
SW - I have received numerous awards over the years, too many to recount over my long, illustrious career--for instance, I was voted by Cosmopolitan Magazine as one of their Fun and Fearless Women awards a few years ago; and I was the only woman that year given the Visionary Award for excellence from the Asia Society, the top international organization which honors people for distinguished, excellent contribution to culture, civilization. Extremely prestigious.
JH - How do you select your models?
SW - I select them 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 5'10, but under six feet tall... I am also more inclined towards European girls as they understand more the essence of elegance and refinement as they come from an older and more refined civilization. Americans are brash, young, often naive and underexposed in terms of culture and sophistication.
JH - Do you consider yourself an artist?
SW - Yes, I was born an artist, and merely use Fashion as my creative medium for my creative and artistic modality of expression. One does not simply 'become' or learn to be an artist--one is born that way! You can learn to be technically proficient or competent, but it will not qualify you as a artist...Creativity is something that emanates deeply from within the soul--either you have it or you don't! Being an artist means that I was born slightly different than most people: For one, our perception about the world is different. One's psychic sense and one's awareness of the world is more keen and acute--we are more sensitive, as we are more connected to feeling, therefore we are fueled by the flames of passion and emotion. Creativity is also highly psychic, intuitive and visionary, and requires much tuning into the etheric realms. It is not solid matter; it is drawn from spirit essences. I am also well-versed in any visual language, so that I can easily use the same creative force to design environments, interiors, furniture, gardens, jewelry, shoes, handbags, bedding, etc--all of which I have done.
JH - What's your favorite part about conceptualizing a design?
SW - The elements of Surprise and Serendipity. It flows out of the ether and organically comes together in astonishing, unexpected acts of creation, which even often surprises me... It as though sometimes I channel the information given to me from a higher source; or that I am a conduit for higher creativity to flow through me. Good design and good art always has great intelligence behind it. The higher the degree and level of the art/design, the higher level the energy and intelligence that informs it. It all goes hand in hand. The creativity never leaves me, and it is a veritable fountain from which flows a constant stream of new ideas, new ways of looking at things. I am truly prolifically blessed, as I've always had a huge energy, which has only collected force and momentum as time goes by. The well always overfloweth -- it has never run dry nor short of ideas. To be a productive, inspired artist is truly the most precious gift that the universe can bless upon anyone.
JH - How do you prepare for a fashion shoot or show?
SW - I generally style everything that I shoot, after deciding on a theme for the season. I also usually decide on the direction for hair and makeup, and usually set the direction with a pre-shoot meeting with my photographer, hair and make-up artists. The models are usually prepped the morning of the shoot with regard to what kind of mood they should evoke.
JH - What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?
SW - Be prepared to work hard. Those who are afraid to work should go and seek other more safe 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.
JH - What do you like best about designing clothes?
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 is 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 much, as I put out a total of more than 1500 designs a year.
JH - How would you define the style your line exemplifies?
SW - 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:
"With each new collection, 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 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.
JH - Where do you get your inspiration?
SW - From art, from Nature, from my travels, from 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.
JH - What are your favorite fabrics to work with and why?
SW - I used to work almost exclusively in silk, as it is the most gorgeous, fluid, sexy, finest fiber on the planet. With the rise of the Chinese renminbi against the US dollar, I have since incorporated other synthetic fibers. I prefer diaphanous fabrics that have movement and flow fluidly with elegance.