If we visited Ho Ching Lin at work one day and saw her at a ball on another, we might not think she’s the same person. It’s safe to say that the appropriate wardrobe of the head and senior consultant of Glaucoma Department at the Singapore National Eye Centre varies somewhat from that of a social butterfly. Even though she confessed to once hiding a slinky toga gown under her white doctor’s jacket, she’s in classic suits most days at the clinic.
“Fashion is a real release for me. Sure, I wear beautiful clothing to the clinic — lots of Armani and Chanel suits — but outside, I get to explore and express the adventurous side of me in ways I cannot at work.”
“People come in to see me about their health. They don’t want their doctors looking frivolous.” When night falls, it’s a different game altogether. Break out the Balmain sequins, the Issey Miyake space-age sculptural heavyweights and jaw-dropping embellishments by Valentino. With a chuckle, she says, “I’m not sure if other people enjoy my fashion choices as much as I do.” She was referring to an Oscar de la Renta she wore recently to mixed reviews. It had a peplum waist and a tapered skirt. Her hair was pulled to two buns on the side — like Princess Leia, only edgier.
“What happened to your hair?” was a response she garnered most. Some people loved it; some hated it. “See, that’s what excites me. I don’t want to be controversial, but I have to be so disciplined in other areas of my life. Fashion gives me the liberty to experiment and I get so much pleasure from that. I’m not going to give it up simply because I’m afraid of what others might think.” We point out that Audrey Hepburn wore cigarette pants in her day, an unpopular choice when most women were in girly day dresses. “Style icons break rules; it’s how they became iconic in the first place,” Ching Lin says. “Audrey did it her way. And so will I.”
BEHIND THE SCENES
ONCE UPON A TIME
A certain medical student once had hair any ’90s darling would be envious of.
TELL US ABOUT THIS PHOTO.
I was a medical student and a very young doctor at the time. I had fun with my hairdo but my clothes had to be just as functional as they were stylish.
WHAT WERE YOUR FAVOURITE TRENDS THEN?
I wore high-waisted denim skirts and trousers frequently, along with silk blouses in single jewel tones. I was also big on long tunics with statement belts over leggings.
It was the ’80, so the bigger the hair the better. Mine was quite the frizzy, curly mess. I still cringe when I look at the photos!
DO YOU BELIEVE IN FASHION RULES?
We can’t please everyone. Nobody should be able to impose a rule on you. If it looks good to you and you carry it well, that’s all that matters.
Photography: DARREN GABRIEL LEOW
Fashion Direction: DESMOND LIM
Hair: GREGO/Indigo Artisans, using Bed Head by TIGI, at Glamour Salon System
Make-Up: CHERYL OW/Indigo Artisans, using Yves Saint Laurent Beauté and DOLLEI SEAH/Makeup Entourage, using Clé de Peau Beauté