Bernard Chandran: When You Are Fabulous and You Know It, Strut It!

WHAT'S HOLDING YOU BACK?

Bernard Chandran: When You Are Fabulous and You Know It, Strut It!

Malaysia's top fashion designer Datuk Seri Bernard Chandran who shares his recipe for success with AWANI Review’s Zakiah Koya​,​ laments the lack of self-belief in their own talents among young designers.

He sweeps into the boutique with his hair in a bun, bearded, looking almost roughed up in an unbuttoned shirt, singlet- showing, his bangles and chains clinking, the very essence of the strutting metrosexual.

He walks with the gait of one who is very sure of how he looks and wants to look, and wants to be looked at. 

At 50, he can pass off for someone just over half his age and who would think this man who is the creator of all the alluring dresses in the  haute couture boutique is a father of five grown up children? 

There will be so many opinions from everyone - an Asian thing - but what matters is believing in oneself and persevering to get the best creation out there

Meet Datuk Seri Bernard Chandran, one of Malaysia's most prominent fashion designers who has made it big on the global stage. Only a couple of weeks earlier, the man was photographed explaining his design to the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, literally an anointment from the Buckingham Palace. 

On his success in having held it all together for nearly 30 years, Bernard says he credits it all to the fact that he believes in himself and no one else. No other opinions count, but his and his alone, and that is an example he says all young designers should have. 

He says there will be so many opinions from everyone - an Asian thing - but what matters is believing in oneself and persevering to get the best creation out there.

"We have to believe in what we do, and constantly believe in it. If we don’t believe in it, who else will? There is a common problem for us all - which is (getting) the opinions of our friends, relatives and people who are not in the industry. Really? Do we really need their opinions? No!"

He also says that fashion designers should make sure that creating remains their main role.

However, as fashion designers need needs to make a living, they do have to be a jack of all trades.

Agencies that are set up to support young fashion designers tend to support for the sake of supporting, and are not able to distinguish those really talented from those who are out there to make quick money

Bernard cautions young fashion designers from merely trusting everyone around them and says that one must be wise to ensure the commercialisation part of it are taken care of by others who will allow them to let their creative juices flow and keep to their original ideas.

"The person who supports you, they have to believe in you as well. In other parts of the world, those who are very successful in their brands, the creative director concentrates on being creative, and the person who finances, they will finance knowing what he (the fashion designer) needs, supporting his needs, and telling him what sells and what does not sell," says Bernard. 

He also laments that agencies that are set up to support young fashion designers tend to support for the sake of supporting, and are not able to distinguish those really talented from those who are out there to make quick money. 

"Most of the time, you can see all of these grants, all the government support, they always support the wrong people who do not know anything about fashion designing," says Bernard. 

He says most of the time, he finds the shows set up to showcase young fashion designers can be phoney because everything about it is to kowtow to the tune of the marketing men taste and not the fashion designers' taste.

"Half of the time, you have fashion weeks, and they do not even give full control to the designers to work out their creative juices. It is all about being controlled because I am paying for it, I am financing it, you do this, you have to use this sponsor, that sponsor, that make up artist, that hair stylist! It has nothing to do with his style. And when you see the whole setting, you don’t believe in them. Trust me - 99 percent of the time, I don’t believe in them," says Bernard. 

He says one should follow the western world where fashion designers get the final word in the whole fashion show and it showcases the designers completely.

Just as a father of many children would, he says senior fashion designers like him know when a young fashion designer has the knack and talent for the right things. 

"You can feel it. If you know you have five children, you know some are hardworking and some are not - you know it. Unless you are living in denial, pretending and hoping that he (your child) would be good," says Bernard. 

He says senior fashion designers like him have to be tough but at the same time know the strengths and weaknesses of  those they are nurturing. 

"I do not want to hear after my fashion show :“Oh! fabulous show!” I don’t want to listen to that. I know that I am fabulous! You know what I mean? For myself - I need the right person there who knows the industry to tell me what sells and what does not sell," says the man who has made it and got it right in the women's fashion. 

2 / 3

Free articles left

Subscribe now