“When I grow up, I want to be the Asian sensation of the world.” – Dorothy Wang
With Couture Week in Paris just a few weeks away, have you ever wondered who actually wears the clothes that make their way down the runway during the most prestigious week in Fashion? Well, apart from the Hollywood stars who don them during the January/February months of Awards Season, there seems to be an exclusive club of about 2 000 women in the world who can actually afford to wear the gowns we so often gawk at with each show.
Kevin Kwan’s 2013-penned Crazy Rich Asians, the latest in Hollywood movie adaptations, boasting an exclusively Asian cast; the first time a major Hollywood studio has made a movie with an all-Asian cast in 20 years. The 2018 film has opened up the curtains to the undiscovered or rather, overlooked world of wealth that exists in Asia. Couture Week in Paris really is the crème de la crème of the fashion world, and Kevin recently traveled to Paris to experience Couture Week with some of the Asian style icons (that we previously never knew of) who are shaking up the world of couture; one gown at a time.
“There’s always existed in Asia these hidden and invincible fortunes and people who spend millions of dollars a year on the finest things in life but do it totally under the radar.” – Kevin Kwan
Introducing the darling of the Philippines, Heart Evangelista. Described as the “modern day incarnation of Audrey Hepburn”, Heart began her career at 13 years old as a commercial model and went on to become one of the most acclaimed actresses and TV hosts in the Philippines.
“Every time I go to the couture shows, it inspires my art”. As an accomplished painter, Heart has hosted several sold-out exhibitions. Heart landed on a surprise hit when she began painting on Hermès handbags. “I had an orange lizard skin Birkin bag and I was eating French fries at Chili’s, and I didn’t realize I was getting grease all over the bottom”, she says. “I tried to clean it, but it was just impossible to fix, so I thought, “Why don’t I paint on it?”. She sketched a yellow bird on a branch of flowers and people started raving about it. She has built an elite clientele from the many women who have had their Birkin’s stained somewhere.
“Couture itself was made to make the client feel special. It’s made for you.” – Heart Evangelista
The dynamic duo of Rachel and Michelle Yeoh are the best representation for the future in Asian couture lovers. Descendants of a distinguished Malaysian-Chinese family, the twins were born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, attended boarding school in England and have called London home for the past few years. In 2015, they had the honor and privilege of being the first Malaysians to debut at Queen Charlotte’s Ball at Kensington Palace, a historical ritual which was once reserved for European aristocratic families.
Rachel & Michelle have set forth a great foundation to build a lucrative career in a field that they are so passionate about. Last year, the twins made their fashion debut walking in the Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2017 show in Milan and would appear again in the Alta Moda show in Lake Como in July this year. When asked by Kevin if they got the sense that they were part of a new generation of fashion influencers, they simply replied “we don’t know if we are influencers and that’s the thing. We just enjoy the shows cause I mean, we started with our mom originally when we were like 10”.
“When I see something come down the runway, I know in my gut and in my heart that its meant to be. I think that connection makes everything more special.” – Rachel Yeoh
Feipeng Chang would be my couture twin. As one of the most important fashion influencers, she epitomizes a dynamic aura of international chic and elegance. A native of Taiwan, she grew up in Sydney and Singapore before moving to New York, where she worked as an Investment Banker after obtaining her degree at NYU’s Stern School of Business. She jumped at the opportunity to connect with and explore her true passion when a friend invited her to join a fashion investment fund in Hong Kong.
“My love for fashion really came from my grandmother. She only ever wore Escada and Chanel” said Feiping on where her love for fashion comes from. She believes that anyone who loves beauty in life, loves fashion. For her 2017 nuptials, Chang walked down the aisle in the best piece of couture she has ever bought; a wedding gown by the king of tulle himself, Giambattista Valli.
“Couture is at its essence about the fantasy, and Giamba really brings it to life.” – Feipeng Chang
For the most part, Americans haven’t been able to comprehend the level of shopping that Asian women do and this is why it has remained so under the radar for so long. The couture world in Asia is a life of imperial splendor with women who dress in couture from morning till night. What sets the Asian couture world apart from the American or even the European couture world is how insanely luxurious and wealthy yet intensely private it is; making it the subject of much curiosity and fascination for all those who never knew it existed.