When convinced that the editor had at least a vague understanding of her essence, she proceeded with a personal tour of her entire collection, gliding along the rows of thoughtfully hung dresses arranged by style, color and design, singling out particular dresses that define a set, invoking a story relating to a pattern, design or method. The end reached, Wong shook the editor's hand, bade a warm goodbye, and proceeded without pause to the next interview, repeating the narration and the presentation in its entirety in the same balance of natural tone and excitement.
"Do I have time to use the restroom?" she asks her publicist. Turning to the staff, "Is anyone hungry?
For Sue Wong, beauty is life and nourishment. She designs and imagines as one inhales and exhales. She aims for women not only to admire and appreciate the beauty of her creations but to also understand them. She calls them, "everyday goddesses," a term the acclaimed designer doesn't use lightly.
Wong believes that every woman should feel powerful and majestic. Adorned in Sue Wong dresses, a businesswoman, executive assistant, engineer, baker, doctor, etc. who deem themselves banal are transformed into celestial goddesses, accomplished not through a sense of wanting but a sense of being. It is a fashion twist on "if we build it they will come." In her case, "if we dress them, they will be."
As a child, she was fascinated not by invisible religious or mythological goddesses but by the equally enthralling and very visible Hollywood idols like Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow. The glitzy and glamorous Manhattan Jazz Age of the 1920s also appealed to Wong. She would later successfully meld these among other influences, juxtaposing seemingly distinct styles drawn from baroque to flappers to movie icons–all projecting an aura of pizzazz and romance. Wong describes herself a maximalist.
She started sewing her own dresses before she was ten. In High School she won a membership to the May Company Teen Board, landing an opportunity "to work in various capacities including modeling, assisting in window display and merchandising." She would later pursue a fashion degree, interning with Arpeja, "after winning first place in a scholarship sponsored by the company, and eventually rising to the position of chief designer for the label’s Young Edwardian."
By 1980, Wong was prepared to strike out on her own, launching her brand in what she describes as an "ill-timed" effort. Her marriage was failing and an "acrimonious" divorce loomed, both ominous at the eve of her launch. But she had her two sons to take care of and, in true Sue Wong fashion, she once again pushed through and transformed. Five years later 1985, she relaunched her brand with aplomb, garnering critical acclaim.
photos courtesy of Sue Wong