Being in the fashion and design industry throughout my career, one of the local homegrown fashion designers that caught my eye and attention is Nicholas Wong. Then he was just a fashion designer. Singapore was first introduced to him in a grand scale from Mercedes-Benz Asia Fashion Awards 2004 where he won. After championing the title from Mercedes-Benz, he became THE Fashion Designer.
Nic soon launched his own label, Nicholas, an eponymous label created for the stylish contemporary professional lady of modern times, the same year. He has since been regarded as one of the first quintessential local designer to pioneer grounds in the local fashion scene as well as to venture abroad after he returned from working in London as an assistant fashion designer.
Being the creative brainchild behind the label, he has always been accredited for his meticulous attention to geometrically quirky detail in his understated designs for apparels and accessories. He has the design sensibilities with the juxtaposition between contrasting elements flaunted on a highly accessible monochromatic palette augmented with bold and vibrant hues. The crisp clean lines of his designs are typical of his sensitivity towards technical constructions and perhaps attained from his education background of graphic and interior design.
In 2001, Nic bagged the atelier east design excellence award for fashion design from Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts and scored a scholarship to pursue his studies in fashion design with Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (rmit). Upon graduation, he was voted as one of Singapore’s top ten fashion graduates and was awarded with a merit award under the category of ‘best menswear collection’. He was also named Singapore Designer of the Year, presented by ELLE in both 2006 and 2007.
Nic desires to develop his signature contemporary style and to continually deliver designs of distinctive workmanship. He feels that “a woman should feel beautiful in whatever she wears and I make clothes with this in mind constantly". Although Tangs Orchard carries his label and he has 2 standalone boutiques at Stamford House and Marina Square, he knows that Singapore’s fashion industry is too small and we are restricted by the local weather -"Many people like to dress for comfort, paying little attention to design."
As such, he moved forward with a visionary mind and left his footprints on the international map making a debut at Shanghai in 2007, New York, Chicago and Kuala Lumpur in2008. In 5 years time, he hopes to be able to participate in New York and Paris Fashion Weeks and enter the British and Australian markets.
In 2010, Nic has a new toy. His new label, Saturday, share two designers – Nic Wong and Daniel Loh. Saturday is a collection of structured silhouettes and crisp styles. It is “less structured and serious than the first and is targeted at fashionistas who want weekend wear that is fun and relaxed," said the duo. The whole look is more weightless and relaxed.
Carole Lin, Singapore's famous actress and the duo's muse, has been a loyal supporter of both Nicholas and Saturday since day one. Her carefree attitude inspired the garments’ seeming weightlessness and her versatility as an actress inspired the complex panels and draping of our dresses. They got to know each other 20 years ago while she was studying at Singapore Polytechnic.
Nicholas Wong has done a great job in the industry and it is safe for us to conclude that Nicholas Wong has indeed made Singapore proud.
Nic Wong is one of the best designers to grace the country. Tell us more of what inspired you to become what you are today?
Passion made me set my eyes on the prize, perseverance brought me through tough obstacles and being open-minded to new ideas and concepts made me who I am today.
What advice would you have for any budding designer out there looking to follow in your footstep?
Take pride in your work and be true your own design style and principles. I believe that everyone is creative and can be creative. Setting your heart and mind, being focused about your design works, will definitely bring you places.
If Nic Wong was not blessed with the talent he has now, what would he be doing instead?
He would probably make a good athlete as a runner or swimmer.
What do you think of the mass perception that most male fashion designers are gay?
It's definitely a stereotype as such things are of personal convictions and choices.
You were influenced by your mother who is a seamstress in your career choice. What else does your mother inspire you on?
She was able to sew & drape anything with sleek workmanship out on her own with just a glance at an example! Her perseverance and being a perfectionist also inspired me. My dad too, had strict discipline on me for being clean, neat and extremely organized.
Your fashion design style is on figure-flattering cuts and quiet structured styles. What is your advice on plus size women? What is the most appropriate and best cutting for them?
The best thing to always wear is confidence. It is difficult to point out a specific cutting for them as what you wear is determined by your personality, not size. Many plus size women can carry off figure-flattering cuts so long as the size is right and the entire styled look is pulled together.
You have partnered with HTC to produce some really cool HTC Touch phones that will be sold to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Foundation. And Singapore Heart Foundation last year for its GO RED FOR WOMEN campaign. What other charities would you like to support in the future?
In a recent collaboration with Her World in celebration of the magazine's 50th anniversary, I designed totes and tees that are now on sale at the Glass House outside Wisma Atria. $5 from each sale will be donated to Unifem's Beautiful Project. Moving on, I would love to contribute to any charities in any ways I can, especially projects whereby 100% of sale proceeds go to charity.
After your visit to Portobello in London, you did an entire collection called “Alice in Portobello” in 2005. What about that inspirational place that caught you in awe?
It was the vintage collections of many things, people watching, their laidback lifestyle, good craftsmanships, the quirky galleries, small bookstores, houses, shop fronts, colorful doors and so many other little things took my breath away.
You studied interior and graphic design in college. What is the main difference between these 3 disciplines of design that sets each other apart?
Interior design trains one in accuracy of pespective drawings. graphic design emphasizes on prints and layouts. fashion design is all about knowing how to discern quality fabric, workmanship and precision.
How do you think Singaporeans are towards local designers?
I think Singaporeans have yet to see local talents as reputable and trusted creative professionals.
In your own definition, what makes a woman modern and smart?
Her confident charm and subtle elegance in speech peppered with wit and genteel behaviour.
What, to you, is being financially independent?
It would mean being able to earn and spend on one's own terms without the support of other sources.
Do you think you are financially savvy and smart? Why?
Yes I would like to think I have grown financially wiser as I no longer make impulse purchases and I plan my expenditure on a long-term basis.
What does the phrase “MyFatPocket” remind you of?
It definitely reminds me of being wealthy.