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Fashion

Fashion Files: Dressing Up Pretty Is Boring? Not For This Former Financial Manager

In this fortnightly column, we go into the closets of some of Singapore's most underrated style stars. This week, we take a private tour of the pretty-filled wardrobe of Veronica Chung.

Veronica Chung and Kendall Jenner share a heavy past. Six kilograms to be exact. That’s the weight of the oversized crochet Burberry hoodie from Fall ’17 that Jenner modelled for the show and loved so much, she apparently ran off wearing it for the after parties without permission and allegedly got into trouble for it. For Chung, however, that similar garment is one definite statement piece in her walk-in wardrobe that not only comes with a colour backstory, but also its sheer heaviness.

“My husband and I were invited to the Masterpiece London Art Fair where Burberry was presenting wearable art pieces from The Cape Reimagined collection off the runway. I love capes to begin with and fell in love with the incredibly romantic and dramatic pieces. My husband asked me to pick my favourite ones as a birthday gift,” says the former family office financial manager who moved to Singapore from her native South Korea with her family when she was just a baby. In the end, she walked away from that trip with the ‘Kendall’ hoodie and another lace bolero trimmed with ostrich feathers which featured 62,000 stitches.

Indeed, the 37-year-old Chung has a soft spot for pretty and feminine fashion — something evident in the pieces that fill up her neat walk-in closet in her home located in the Holland Village area. Think sophisticated lace, embellishments and lots of gem hues that would not look out of place in the wardrobe of women like L.S.D and Eugenie Niarchos. Her trick to not overdoing the aesthetic would come as useful advice. “I always balance them with masculinity or simplicity so that the femininity and prettiness is delicate, not saccharine,” she says.

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This Burberry crochet hoodie weighs six kilograms… a world of a difference from the weight of her pet chihuahua Pumpkin.

Describe your sense of style.

“I would say that my sense of style is elegant and bold, with clean lines and surprising details; it’s not beholden to any one style, designer, or brand. I love jewel tones, fun details, and experimenting. I generally avoid wearing black, and styles that are stiff, heavy, or sloppy.”

Who are your fashion influences?

“Rather than any set fashion influences, I appreciate good style wherever I find it in my daily life or travels. I do have a few friends whose styles I enjoy on Instagram. Every one of them has a different body type, complexion, hair style, age, and look, but what they all have in common is a distinct personal style that works really well for each of them. My best friend Rossella is Maltese-Italian and used to be in the fashion industry. Her style is fresh and elegant minimalist and complemented with her signature statement earrings. Lo, a former student of mine, is a super tall, larger-than-life American girl. Her style is exuberant, full of bold solids, prints, and shapes which she mixes masterfully. Seeing their diverse unique styles encourages me to try new things and expand my own repertoire. And the main lesson that I glean from them is that it is fun to experiment and express yourself through your outfits.”

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Left: Chung has a weak spot for quirky bags like this Kayu lemon clutch and a tea box minaudiere by Kate Spade New York. Right: Her ornate lace bolero by Burberry features 62,000 stitches.

What’s your trick to acing feminine style in a cool way?

“I do like feminine and pretty things but I always balance them with masculinity or simplicity so that the femininity and prettiness look delicate, not saccharine. I usually do the reverse and turn a style from editorial-looking to something friendly by breaking up the outfit and wearing only one key piece, and then adjusting the level of intensity and drama with accessories, hair, and make-up.”

How do you use fashion as a medium of self-expression?

“I can never prepare my outfit the night before because I always dress how I feel in the moment. Sometimes, I run out of time to get ready and grab what feels right and throw it together in a blur. And that works for me, whether or not my outfit is aesthetically perfect or follows everyone else’s fashion rules, because what I’m wearing reflects how I feel. I use colours, the stiffness or softness of the fabric, the shape of the silhouette, the height of my heels, directing the attention to a focal point of my choice, the boldness or softness of my make-up and so on, to reflect my mood.”

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Chung wears her Elie Saab gown with Tino Lanzi sandals, Aldo earrings, and her Van Cleef & Arpels bangles.

What’s your most prized fashion item and why?

“I curate my wardrobe because space is a premium, so I love everything in my closet. But if I have to choose, my current seasonal favourite item is my custom handmade sandals by Antonio Viva. I love the perfect fit, the colours of the sandy gold leathers, the beautiful traditional craftsmanship, and most importantly, the happy memories of vacationing in Capri associated with it.  My timeless favourite item would be my Van Cleef & Arpels’ La Perlee bangles and ring not only because they are gorgeous and goes with literally any outfit, but because each one was a gift from my husband celebrating a special anniversary.”

What is a recent purchase you’re very proud of?

“I have two and they could not be more different. The first is a bespoke gold ring in the shape of an antique lion, representing Astro, my eldest rescue dog and the love of my life. No other dog is bonded to me like Astro is, and I to him, and I wanted something extra special and wearable that would keep his image close to me at all times. It took 18 months to design, and it will be another six months before it arrives. The other is my Fresh Prince of Bel-Air sweater. I came across it in an article listing ugly Christmas sweaters and had to have it as my Christmas gift from my husband. There’s something so freeing and happy about the funky design that makes me proud to wear it.”

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Her secret to smelling so good…always.

Name one designer you are obsessed with at the moment.

“I don’t obsess over anyone or any labels but I consistently do love Elie Saab’s fairy tale creations.  This may not make sense to many people but to me, the proportions and geometry of his dresses look mathematically right that I don’t find elsewhere. And then, of course, there is the highest level of craftsmanship and the brilliant colours.”

What’s your weakness?

“I am absolutely mesmerised by a good rainbow unicorn-coloured hologram. I don’t know what it is but it makes me happy and I can’t take my eyes off it.  For the record, I only have two hologram items: a pair of sneakers and a bag, and I am waiting patiently for J. Crew to release their next edition of hologram heels again.”

The go-to brand for basics?

“It depends what basics you’re talking about. For jeans, I love AG jeans and Paige for their cuts and buttery soft fabrics. I can’t do harsh, unforgiving jeans. For bralettes, I love Perk By Kate for its softness and the pretty designs. For sunglasses, I only wear Maui Jims because they offer the proper full range of sun protection for your eyes and come with the lightest frames.”

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A backless Rachel Zoe dress + Jimmy Choo sandals = Chung’s idea of a chic but head-turning cocktail look.

The go-to brand for a night out?

“I love the fun, colourful designs of Alice+Olivia and Rachel Zoe. Blazers are also my thing as they are versatile and add that extra touch to many outfits — Veronica Beard usually has one special fun piece per collection.”

The go-to brand for shoes?

“Fit and cut is non-negotiable — even more so for shoes. The shape of my feet limits me to designs by Giuseppe Zanotti and Aldo which I love. I recently also discovered Shoes of Prey, a custom made-to-order shoe company that I’m testing out.”

The go-to brand for bags?

“It used to be Prada a long time ago but it’s a little of everything now. As I get older, I move away from the classic staples as I already have those; I gravitate more and more towards bags that are special or have whimsical, limited edition designs.”

Photography Zaphs Zhang Art Direction Imran Jalal Hair Manisa Tan/Paletteinc, using Kevin Murphy Makeup Keith Bryant Lee, using Dior 

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