Singapore Tatler Fashion Hall of Fame (Part 1)
Dana Koh looks into the sartorial vaults of this year’s stylish inductees, and discovers their anthologies of personal style and fashion evolutions.
“When I walk into a room, I hope people look at me first, and not my clothes. It’s about how you carry yourself, and allowing your style to express your personality” - Elaine Lim-Chan
Designed to pay tribute to its automotive inspirations, Elaine Lim-Chan’s bespoke Hermès Birkin was a gift from her husband Chan Kok Weng. That one bag encapsulates three of her greatest passions: cars, masterfully crafted fashion creations and a life partner to share these treasures with. Her high-octane penchants are matched with equally bold style choices at soirees: gowns with audacious cuts or cut-outs, or in a neon hue that punctuates a sea of black and neutrals. As managing director at Deutsche Bank Singapore, she dons a power suit by day, so fashion is an outlet for her creative side. “My style is sophisticated, adventurous and definitely experimental. I currently have a soft spot for feminine designs with a touch of daring detailing. I like the idea of juxtaposition and an element of surprise.”
What is fashion and style to you?
As my job in the financial sector doesn’t allow me to be too funky with daily dressing, I treat fashion as a tool for me to express myself whenever I get a chance. It is an outlet for my creative side to explore, experiment and have fun with clothes that I like and want to try wearing. In general, fashion is about following; it is constantly changing depending on what is current and trendy, and sometimes relies on unattainable looks on women with unrealistic bodies. While I love it, I am not a slave to fashion. Style on the other hand is unique and distinctive—it carves one’s individuality. It’s a statement you want to make with your clothing and involves a thought process to utilise the best aspects of you, taking into consideration your personality, body and shape.
What do you think of when you’re getting dressed?
I like to dress up for the occasion, so I think about the event and how I can adhere to the dress code in the best way possible. And then, there are the times where it all depends on my mood—then the possibilities are endless.
With whom do you talk about clothes?
My baby sister—we talk about fashion all the time… and it’s scary how often our shopping bags have very similar outfits, too. And of course, the man with such a good eye for aesthetics and fashion, my husband Kok Weng.
Who are your style icons?
Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn for their everlasting elegance and class; and Charlize Theron, whose red-carpet and couture looks I love, for her ability to always effortlessly match strength and femininity.
"I tend to tweak or switch up my style depending on where I am travelling to, especially in fashion capitals where I’m free to experiment with new looks and seasonal dressing” - Chan Kok Weng
If his automotive affinities are any indication of his style choices, then Chan Kok Weng’s fashion can be described as bold, bright and well engineered. From the floral prints that fill his wardrobe to the neon ombre effect on his exotic skin shoes, the doctor with a special interest in aesthetics never fails to make a statement. Bespoke luxuries are a great penchant of this discerning dandy, who continues to build a collection that currently comprises countless separates, three pairs (and counting) of Corthay shoes, as well as an Hermès Birkin in the shades of three of his cars. He even ordered a bespoke Birkin for his wife Elaine in the colours of her cars both old and new. And to match his knack for mixing timeless cuts with contemporary fabrics and design, he has a plethora of kaleidoscopic optical glasses acquired from all over the world—colourful accessories he interchanges on a daily basis. He says fashion and style are completely up to the individual, and each should set his own trends.
Describe your style.
Adventurous and funky—I dare to be different. I like colours and textures, and even with classic silhouettes and pieces, I like to jazz it up with a signature modern twist.
What was your most adventurous look ever?
I’ve studied in Scotland so I was already open to the idea of a kilt, and when Givenchy launched a men’s skirt last season, it was so edgy I absolutely loved it. When someone says, “Would you dare to wear it?”, all the more I will.
What are five must-haves in every man’s wardrobe?
Not necessarily a suit but a well-tailored jacket; well-fitted denim jeans; statement shoes; a key accessory—in my case, glasses; and a solid timepiece.
What makes a man truly stylish?
When he is confident and dares to be different and individual. A truly stylish man conveys success, competence and self-confidence. He is current, yet effortless and fresh.
Who inspires you from a style perspective?
No one; I don’t like to be a fashion follower. I like to think that I am a trendsetter.
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