Cookie cutter. Predictable. Lacklustre. Those aren’t just adjectives unlikely to ever be used in describing her clothing; they are the very antithesis of her otherwise eclectic flair. Then again, it’s easier to theorise what Rosalynn Tay’s style is not, than it is to define what it is.
“Singaporeans tend to follow trends but it has always been in my nature to want to try what is different. Even if someone shows up in the same dress as me, I know I will jazz it up in a way only I can that reflects my personality.”
Take that sharp hairdo for instance, one she has worn since before the millennium. “I went from permed, shoulder-length hair to this,” she says, pointing at what is now her signature cut, which has progressed over the years, from a bob to an asymmetrical cut and back; an arbitrary pattern not limited to her beauty practices.
When she was a corporate wife, she was a fan of Max Mara skirt suits, but her off-duty look couldn’t be more varied. “I had a huge collection of Betsey Johnson. I also wore lots of cheongsams, before my obsession with baju kebaya began. I still have all of them because when I love something, I keep it forever,” she says, sharing that she has converted three bedrooms in her home into wardrobe space.
These days, her style is less diverse. Sort of. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t shop as often as she used to (her last big purchase was Peter Pilotto’s autumn/winter dresses last October), preferring exotic cultural escapes whenever she hops on a plane. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that she’s reverted to multicoloured maxis she’s loved since she was a young girl.
“I’m drawn to funky prints. Missoni gets my top vote. So do Dries van Noten, Erdem and Diane von Furstenberg,” she says. Is that the trademark of a fashion icon? A style as diverse and as animated as the personality in it? A carefree confidence that isn’t restrained by trends or rules? Her answer puts paid to these questions: “At the end of the day, glamour is about freedom. It’s based on instinct. It’s about knowing who you are and expressing exactly that.”
BEHIND THE SCENES
YESTERDAY ONCE MORE
It was the 1970s when Rosalynn Tay’s style evolution began.
WE LOVE THAT RED DRESS ON YOU.
Thank you! You know, my friends from secondary school and university frequently came over to my house to borrow my clothes. They said I was very fashionable!
IT'S VERY PROPER AND PRETTY. WAS THAT HOW YOU USUALLY DRESSED?
I wasn’t a party girl. I was very much a lady — I went to a convent school in Malaysia. My dad will never allow me to wear anything sexy either.
DID YOU SHOP LOCAL?
Not really. I already enjoyed travelling then, so I came to Singapore a lot. I also shopped up a storm in Hong Kong, London and Paris.
WAS THERE SOMETHING YOU REFUSED TO WEAR GROWING UP?
There was a time when girls wore dungarees. I would never wear them. It was just too funny. I would look like a penguin because it was so frumpy!
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