Ladies and gents, let us introduce you Andrea – this Malaysian based powerhouse, who’s CV spans former fashion editor at Harpers Bazaar Malaysia, former editor-in-chief of Elle Malaysia and fashion stylist for Crazy Rich Asians… and now leading our very own MASHUp as lead stylist and production manager for Brietling Asia’s latest campaign.
This stylish badass, who once confused Tom Ford with Tom Jones in her early days, through pure grit has navigated the media world on a path that’s way less followed, but heck, far more interesting. Read on…
We read in a recent interview with you that you said ‘styling can be a powerful medium to change minds’. How do you think your work influences people who engage with a brand or campaign you’ve worked on?
I always try to style the campaigns that I work on with the audience in mind. It’s important for the imagery to be relatable to the audience, but always with elevated styling so there is still a sense of aspiration that creates desire. It’s about striking the right balance between the ideational and the accessible, so that the audience can imagine themselves in the setting, with still a little room left to dream.
Being selected as the fashion consultant and stylist for Crazy Rich Asians must have been a huge career moment. Consider us seriously impressed. What were the highlights of this project for you?
The producers, director and costume designer put a huge amount of trust in me to determine the majority of the wardrobe for the main cast and secondary cast of the movie. I worked very closely with the costume designer on the outfit selection, and to see outfits that I had styled appear on the big screen was a real achievement for me. Especially certain looks that became quite iconic, like Peik Lin’s Stella McCartney silk dog print pyjama set. At the end of the project, the producer of the movie, Nina Jacobson, told me that I was one of her best hires. Talk about validation.
We’re all about people taking the path less followed, and were so interested to read that despite being the former fashion editor at Harpers Bazaar Malaysia and the editor in chief of Elle Malaysia, you didn’t start out in fashion. How have you and your skills adapted over your career?
When I started my first job out of university as the fashion coordinator of Harper’s Bazaar Malaysia, I had close to zero knowledge of the publishing industry, and was a far cry from an expert in fashion. I didn’t know there were quite so many variations of shoe styles (mules and peeptoes and slingbacks, oh my!), and even confused Tom Ford with Tom Jones in my early days (oh, the shame). It was a very steep learning curve for me, but within five years at the magazine, I worked my way up to fashion editor. I discovered a great love for fashion, and that I had a real knack for styling. I really came into my own when I started to work for myself as a freelance fashion stylist. I developed my eye and became more self-assured in my styling skills, and now with each new project that I take on, I can confidently deliver results tailored to what the client need, coupled with my own personal touch.
You’re a figurehead for successful, self-made women in Asia. What challenges have you faced navigating this world?
In an industry that admittedly is rooted in the surface, that champions appearances and aesthetics above all else, it can be tricky keep yourself grounded in reality at times. It’s important to forge true and meaningful connections, and I’m glad to say that I have found some wonderful friends within the industry, and to surround yourself with a strong support system, family and friends that never let you drift too far away. It’s also important to always find meaning and purpose in everything that you do. While some might dismiss fashion as flighty and fancy, I truly believe that fashion is a significantly important part of most of our lives. It’s the biggest form of self-expression, and is illustrative of culture, times and its transformations. I believe that what I do inspires people and brings joy into their lives. And we could all do with a little more joy in our lives in today’s world.
As someone who has worked both freelance and in-house with some huge brands, what was it that attracted you to become part of the MASH community?
I’ve had the privilege of working in some amazing roles in my career, and gaining invaluable experience. But I’ve always gravitated towards being a free agent, answering to myself, and having the freedom to choose the sort of projects that I want to work on. I love being in the thick of the creative process, something that is not always afforded to me in my management roles. Now, as a freelancer, I’m able to do what I’m most passionate about, and being a part of the MASH family has given me great opportunities to work on exciting projects with some pretty awesome people.