It’s easy to mistake realtor Debbie Kate Loo as a fashion industry insider judging by her discreet but experimental outfit choices. Just consider how her idea of cool footwear might be Balenciaga’s boots-meets-tights Pantashoes, but it could also be a pair of Timberland boots. She could be dressed in a Cher-esque sparkly jumpsuit (not Bob Mackie but from Bangkok, mind you) or ’70s-style lurex pussy bow blouse by Gucci the next day.
And judging from the amount of Phoebe Philo-era Celine pieces that she has amassed through the years, you might think that this 40-year-old is a die-hard #oldceline fan. So it’s a little surprising when she corrects us on that observation. “You know what’s the irony,” she asks. “I am a huge fan of Phoebe Philo but I also insanely adore Hedi Slimane. Some might say you can only be in one camp because these two designers are worlds apart. I agree to disagree.”
“I love Phoebe’s timeless, clean and understated pieces that make great wardrobe staples. To me, her clothes exude effortless dressing. It is so easy to mix and match Phoebe’s pieces. Then there’s Hedi that tugs at the sometimes-forgotten young carefree tomboy in me who just wants to have fun with clothes that are structured, vintage-inspired and androgynous.”
In your own words, how would you describe your sense of style?
“Eclectic and androgynous.”
What does being well-dressed mean to you?
“When I know what silhouettes, prints, colour and style flatter not just my body but also my identity.”
What are the exciting new fashion labels on your label now?
“I’m not digging any new labels per se but more of the new creative vision by Daniel Lee at Bottega Veneta.”
You and your husband are one of the most stylish couples we know. How does having a partner who loves fashion equally as you influence you?
“It’s the best thing ever. He’s my inspiration, my stylist, my shopping buddy. We both scour the world for vintage scores to designer pieces. In addition to that, he’s my lover and best friend. It seriously can’t get any better.”
What’s your fashion Achilles heel?
“Sequins. I’m obsessed with them.”
You said you only shop for vintage when you travel. Where are some of the best places to check out?
“Los Angeles has the absolute best vintage you can find. My favourites are the Rose Bowl Flea Market (1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena), Squaresville (1800 North Vermont Ave) and American Rag (150 S. La Brea Avenue). I also love What Goes Around Comes Around (351 West Broadway) in New York. For vintage Hermes, there’s no better place than Tokyo.”
Who are your fashion icons?
“Faye Wong, Edie Sedgwick, David Bowie, Mary-Kate Olsen, Kate Moss, River Phoenix, and Kurt Cobain. If there’s one thing each of these icons taught, it is to be true to yourself.”
What is one recent fashion purchase that you’re obsessed with and why?
“My Comme des Garcons blazer. I like it when designers put much thought into recreating an everyday staple. This blazer is a black structured piece with a long and wide sash that you can wear based on your own interpretation – slung across the shoulders, wrapped around your waist, ‘origami-ed’ at the waist. The possibilities are up to your creative imagination.”
And your most prized possessions?
“My vintage Kelly bag as cliche as it may sound as well as my Cartier bracelets. My husband wanted to buy the jewellery for me as gifts but I politely declined. I vowed to work hard to buy them with my own savings. Knowing I worked hard to attain sound fashion investment pieces that my daughter can inherit makes me really proud of myself.
What is one item we will never catch you wearing?
What is the greatest length you’ve gone to in the name of fashion?
“I flew to Hong Kong to find Faye Wong’s hairstylist but she wasn’t in town.”
“I’m a sucker for furry stuff and leopard prints. It’s as if Phoebe Philo designed this for me! As if that’s not awesome enough, these shoes are comfy and are my answer to elevated sandals thanks to their platform soles. An all-around winner.”
“It may be the silliest bag I own but it’s a Chanel. It’s handy and make a great conversation piece, but it’s also just useless when it comes to practical function. But hey, it’s my guilty pleasure.”
“These are essentially a pair of simple black boots. But the mismatched ornaments turned something simple into a standout.”
Photography Phyllicia Wang