Sue Wong: Fashion Designer Extraordinaire

The honours never stop for Sue Wong, world renowned recherché fashion designer. This time she is being recognized by Marymount University, receiving its 2015 Designer of the Year award at the school’s student fashion show on April 30, 2015. Achieving excellence is the standard by which each recipient is judged and Ms. Wong now joins an elite group of previous award winners including Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors, Eileen Fisher, Isabel Toledo, and Tadashi Shoji.

Sue Wong has built a global fashion brand with her timeless designs, and will soon enter another venue with the launching of her online clothing boutique and perfumery.  Her signature Eau de Parfum, Sue Wong, line is new, and has been personally developed by Ms. Wong after considerable testing and research.

Sue Wong gowns and dresses are simply dazzling, with an élan only seen in high fashion. Her elegant fabrics and exotic embellishments lend an ethereal quality to her creations.

Ms. Wong artfully incorporates both mystery and glamour into her designs to honor the goddess in every woman.  “I like to empower women through beauty because beauty is a powerful healing agent,” she says.    

She takes her inspiration from old Hollywood, 1930’s Shanghai, Manhattan’s Jazz Age, and Weimar Germany.

Her eagerness to help young designers is evident from the answers she had to a few of my questions: 

What advice would you give a young fashion designer? 

Do not compromise on your vision. Do not allow others to derail nor undermine your commitment to your goal and the clarity of your vision. Never take no for an answer. Never allow other people to limit your possibilities by accepting the projections of their very own limitations onto yourself. Never feel simply satisfied at any given moment in your journey. Remember that you are a work in progress.

Constantly redefine yourself (as I do creatively every single season); you must continuously expand and grow as an artist.  That’s what I was born to do and that’s my quest in my life — to be as self-realized as I possibly can both as an artist and as a human being; to grow spiritually and acquire wisdom along the way; and to fulfill my ultimate destiny by ever evolving into my Higher Self. 

What does it take to be a fashion designer? 
Having a vision!
Holding that vision!
Being true to that vision!
Be true to your own essence and to the essence of your overall design; the one reflects the other and we are what we think; we become that with which we adorn our bodies.  It’s not a case of simply saying x, y, and/or z work…or do not work: it’s a case of knowing exactly what your vision is in order to know what the overall cohesive design message is so that you can build constructively around that.
Make sure you can take lots of criticism and grow from it.  Have a very, very thick skin!

Remarkable and inspiring advice from the master, to individuals and designers!

True to her dictums above, the incredibly prolific Sue Wong designs 1,500 gowns and cocktail dresses each year!  Through it all, she maintains her mantra: Beauty, Magic, and Transformation. “Beauty is magical and has the power to transform. I create beautiful gowns and they are transformative,” she says.

Her story constitutes a real American dream, a Horatio Alger tale to be sure.  Starting as a young immigrant to the United States, she has risen to become one of the most successful fashion designers in the world.

The Wong family lived in poverty for the first years of her life in America, but despite these circumstances the creative juices began to flow early in young Sue and, since she had to have an outlet for them, she drew on toilet paper squares with crayons.  Indeed, ever since she can remember, she has been drawing. She also remembers making elaborate clothes for her cutout dolls, and, voila, a designer was born. 

Her artistic talents were recognized in high school and she was awarded a scholarship to art school, but her traditional Chinese parents disapproved, so she chose not to go to college.  Fiercely independent and always a fighter, she defied her parents and pursued a creative career anyway, deciding on fashion to at least appease her father, thinking she could make a living at it.  Even though her parents disowned her for three years, that did not stop her, and the young Bohemian opened her own one-of-a-kind shop in Venice, California at the age of 19.

Later, she would go to school, Los Angeles Trade Tech, where after six months she received a scholarship and wound up working for the company Arpeja. At Arpeja, she rapidly became a top designer, taking over the company’s Young Edwardian line.     

Wong had become a success at an early age: she was a millionaire by 25, and reveled in all of the attendant accoutrements.  Later, she was to build her own line, but this was no easy undertaking.  She had to rise not just once but twice, owing to the fortunes of life, but, relying on her proven skills and her faith in herself, she was equal to the task. 

She is most certainly the personification of the self-made woman and a worthy role model for up-and-coming designers. 

Ms. Wong has dressed the stars: Goldie Hawn, Taylor Swift, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Minnie Driver, Kim Kardashian, Angela Bassett, Kelly Osbourne, and Jane Seymour, among the many. Her fashion designs are now in 28 countries, and she will soon open her online boutique which will display her clothing and her nascent line of perfume, hand lotion, and shower gel.