Former editor in chief of Elle Malaysia, Andrea Wong is part of the famous faces of Malaysian fashion and beauty journalism of today.
She shares with us her experience for one of the most known women’s magazine and dishes on her styling tips, fashion items she just can’t handle and her new entrepreneurial projects.
ST – How was your experience at Elle magazine?
Extremely challenging but highly rewarding. I launched an international women’s title into the market, put together an amazing team and sent out issues that I’m extremely proud of every month. There were sleepless nights and stressful times, but it was all totally worth it.
ST – So what are your favorite memories working there?
I love traveling and the job gave me the opportunity to travel to some amazing places. I went to the fashion weeks in New York, Milan and Paris and experienced beautiful fashion shows from the front row and I got to visit to many places for the first time, including Amsterdam, Seoul, Tokyo and the Maldives. However one particular memory sticks out. It was a moment I shared with my team when we were sending our inaugural issue to print. It was probably something crazy like 2am in the morning, and we were all sitting in a row looking at the proofs of the magazine. Someone pointed out a mistake on the page and, most likely because we were delirious from lack of sleep, we all burst out laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world. It went on for a good five minutes, and we still laugh about it today. Those were the moments that I cherished the most, finding joy in trying times with the wonderful team that I had.
ST – Why this change in career? How did you decide to become a stylist?
I was actually a freelance fashion stylist for three years before I became the editor-in-chief of ELLE Malaysia. I have absolutely no regrets taking on that amazing role, launching the magazine in Malaysia and laying the foundations of what ELLE Malaysia is today. It’s certainly the proudest period of my career. But I decided to focus on what I love doing, which is styling.
ST – When you style someone, what is your focus?
Their personality and their existing personal style. I don’t like to change their look completely and turn them into someone they are not, but I do like to take them outside of their comfort zone. My favorite thing is when the people that I style tell me that this is something that they would never have thought of wearing, but that they love it.
ST – How would you describe your style in three words?
Eclectic. At. best.
ST – Any fashion Faux pas?
Trying too hard to chase trends to stay in fashion and not developing your own personal style. Oh, and ugly footwear like Crocs and Fitflops…
ST – Was working in fashion your childhood dream?
I wish I could say that I’ve been dreaming about doing this since I was eight, but in actual fact I wasn’t. I was lucky enough to land a job at Harper’s Bazaar Malaysia fresh out of university, with honestly not that much knowledge on fashion. I had no idea about the editorial team that it took to produce a magazine each month, I thought seasons only indicated the weather and I even got Tom Ford and Tom Jones confused during my first week at work (now that is a major faux pas). But I dove head first into the wonderful world of fashion, fell in love and have never looked back since.
ST – What’s the toughest part of being your own boss? And the best part?
The toughest part is finding the discipline to stick to a regular work schedule everyday. The best part is definitely the freedom. I get more time to travel, I can work out of a café during the work week and I get to choose which projects I want to work on.
“Sustainable fashion is investing in pieces that will make the cornerstone of your wardrobe”
ST – A life without heels is…?
Comfortable but infinitely more boring!
ST – If you had to pick your favorite StyleTribute pieces?
I love the Isabel Marant Etoile black calf leather boots that I wore for my photo shoot. I don’t believe that you can’t wear boots in our weather, and I would totally rock these with city shorts or a slip dress and a biker jacket.
ST – What are your favorite fashion pieces you own, what is the story behind them?
A gorgeous hand-embroidered kaftan that I bought from Marrakesh, which was made by the same designer that worked with Giorgio Armani on some of his collections. I also bought two pairs of shoes by Loewe from Barcelona, it was from the first collection by Stuart Vevers when he was still the creative director of Loewe, a pair of pumps with lightbulb heels and a pair of sandals with screwdriver heels. I was a big fan of his surrealistic collection and was so happy to get my hands on these shoes from that collection.
ST – Sustainable fashion is…
Investing in pieces that will make the cornerstone of your wardrobe. Staples like a good pair of jeans, a crisp white shirt, an LBD and good cotton basics. Choose high quality and don’t hesitate to spend a little bit more on these pieces, for they will become the hardest working pieces in your closet!
ST – Top style tip?
Put in the effort. Whether it’s pairing your go-to jeans and white shirt combo with killer heels, or layering a dress with an edgy jacket, or styling your hair in a different way, you can always tell when someone has put in the effort to dress up. It does make a difference and it will give you a confidence boost as well.
ST – Less is more?
Definitely. I used to be huge on accessories, layering necklaces, bangles and rings. Now I have only a few key accessories, my favourite necklace, my everyday ring and the occasional bracelet. It’s all about effortless and fuss-free style for me now.
ST – And finally, if you could go back in time, when and where would you go?
From a purely sartorial standpoint, I’m fascinated by the Golden Age of the 1950s. Christian Dior’s New Look, with the full skirt and tiny waist highlighting the hourglass figure was the epitome of femininity. Complete with opera-length gloves, round-frame sunglasses and bright red lipstick, it was amazing to me how the women of the 50s were always so elegant and flawless. Of course, being an actual Stepford wife sounds terribly backwards, so I most certainly don’t want to stay there. I would just pay a visit long enough to raid Grace Kelly’s wardrobe then return back to the present!