After her house warming celebration which I have written about in a separate article in this magazine, Sue Wong and I had a wide-ranging conversation about Wong’s emergence as a multi-faceted designer with worldwide reach, her three homes, her art collection, and her vision as an artist.
Sue, of course, has been an amazing women’s fashion designer for decades and has recently announced that she will spread her wings by expanding her operation into a truly global presence and widening the horizon of her designing as well. She has instituted licensing agreements and partnered with Henry Levy of DNAM and designer Monica Gupta. The Sue Wong global brand will not only encompass eveningwear for women but also attire for young women, men, and children, as well as swimwear, furnishings, bedding, and even designer homes. This brave move frees Sue so that she can concentrate on designing and taking her creativity as far as possible. I applaud her for the boldness of this undertaking, but then again she is an artist with a multi-layered personality, which must express itself in different modalities.
To truly understand Sue Wong, one must understand her mantra: Body, Mind, and Spirit. Indeed, this mantra is so embedded in her psyche that she has named each one of her houses as representative of a different aspect of the above named lofty triumvirate.
The Cedars, in Hollywood, is Body. Sue has painstakingly restored this palazzo to its former elegance, glamour, and glory. As Sue says, “The first thing I do when I enter an environment is to surround myself with beauty.” Truer words were never spoken, as the Cedars certainly showcases the splendor and luxury symbolized by old Hollywood.
The Arthaus, in Malibu, is Mind. The house warming for this once grotesque structure has been 24 years in the making and involved another colossal Sue Wong design effort. “My vision was to make it modernistic and a clean living space.” She has certainly achieved this goal, with a design that maximizes the spectacular ocean view the property affords. “The Malibu Arthaus is all about light and being in nature. What I have done here at the Arthaus is create a work of art just like I did at the Cedars.” It is also at the Arthaus that she has her fabulous works of modern art, the result of three decades of collecting. “I like the art to be meaningful, not decorative,” Sue says succinctly. She looks for composition, color, form, and harmony. Her art collection includes works by Jayme Odgers, Amanda Watt, Peter Lodato, Koji Takei, Ezra Homann, and her son.
The “Estate,” in Hawaii, is Spirit. Sue waxes poetic on her Hawaii property, describing it as “mystical and transcendentally beautiful … full of statuary and exotic blooms growing in the garden.” Her next energetic art project will be to create temples in the Ancient Khmer style on the Estate, as she is captivated by the culture and the mysticism of this powerful Hindu-Buddhist empire which held sway in Southeast Asia from about 800 AD. “I want to create my vision, and leave my creative legacy,” Sue says, and this will be done, appropriately, at her spiritual center.
With that in mind, her next stage of art collecting will take her back to her Asian roots as she journeys to the locale of the ancient kingdom of Khmer. She wants to travel along the old Silk Road as well and collect Oceanic art.
The same force which drove her to convert her Malibu home, once a monstrosity, into something beautiful, drives her in all her endeavors, because, for Sue Wong, “It is all about style. I believe in individual style.” The manifestation of this style may come in a house she revives or a dress she designs.
When asked about her ideas on art, Sue stated: “The highest state of our ideals, as an artist, is to share our vision.” Sue’s goal with her designs is to inspire, invigorate, embolden, and beautify women – simultaneously.
For Sue Wong, “Beauty is something sacred and special. I like to surround myself with beauty because it is my doorway into the divine part of the radiance of the universe.” Hence, another mantra: Beauty, Magic and Transformation.
This “portrait” of Sue Wong has delved into the mind, body, and spirit of the legendary designer. It is a portrait and a life from which we can all derive benefit, and Sue Wong would like that!