A DYNAMIC fashion stylist whose work crosses style boundaries, Calvin Cheong started off as an assistant before freelancing on his own from 2006. His creative perspective and attention to detail have garnered him advertising clients such as Toyota, Volkswagen, Sony, HSBC and Maxis, to name a few.
Calvin’s favourite works, however, are editorial spreads where he is granted more creative freedom. His work has been published in numerous magazines like Her World, Prestige, Marie Claire, Female, Shape, Hanger, Oxygen and Citta Bella.
Apart from his work in television commercials and print, Calvin has also styled shows such as The Curve Fashion Week, PUMA F1 Party, Daniel Chong’s runway show at MIFW, Stylo ft. PJ CAD, and Gardens Fashion Week. He has also dressed the likes of Rachel Hunter, VJs Utt and Denise Keller, Daphne Iking, Sheila Majid and Amber Chia.
I first met Cheong at a casual dinner. Months later, I was honoured to be invited along on a fashion sourcing trip in Thailand. He was to visit all his favourite stockists and boutiques in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and I was to tag along and shop to my heart’s content. It was a shopaholic’s dream come true.
Cheong introduced me to boutique owners who were shopaholics themselves back in the 80s; and a quirky Thai artist called Peach who’d insist on talking to you while painting a whimsical portrait on the item of your choice – be it bag, clothes or shoes.
Cheong encouraged me to buy louder fashion pieces, which wasn’t difficult, seeing that my penchant for the weird and wonderful was already a joke among my more conventionally-dressed friends.
After a week in Bangkok, we explored the colourful city of Chiang Mai where I watched him bargain hard for traditional headpieces, to use for shoots.
A memorable event was when we dressed up for tea and cakes by the river. He donned a bowler hat, shredded scarf (before it appeared in Emporio Armani four years later), grey jacket and pointy brogues. I slipped on a white embroidered dress, thrifted chunky Spanish heels in beige, and a wide-brimmed hat. Everything we had on was from Bangkok, of course, and onlookers were extremely amused at us strutting into a cafe where everyone else wore T-shirts and shorts.
Two weeks and two full large suitcases later, I returned home with my new treasures and puzzled over how I was going to fit everything into my bursting wardrobe. What baffled me was how Cheong stored all his purchases, seeing he goes on quite a few shopping trips annually. He later revealed that he uses his oven and kitchen cupboards as additional storage space.
There is no better way to store an abundance of clothes than to open a boutique, which is exactly what Cheong started doing last year. For six months, he designed and laboriously carried out most of the renovations himself in between long hours of styling jobs.
Called Seethrough, the new boutique’s interior is a clash between raw material (pipes, chain, zinc, brick) and vintage furniture – armchairs, lamps, poufs, suitcases, candlestick holders, treasure chest. The largest of the three sitting rooms has an authentic record player that provides lilting French tunes in the store, with many more old vinyl records accompanying it.
Seethrough is filled with fashion items of every imaginable style, colour and fabric. Calvin, who states Edward Enninful and Katie Grand as his favourite stylists, also brings in off season high fashion labels from New York like Alexander Wang, Mara Hoffman, Victor & Rolf, Maison Martin Margiela, Cavalli, D Squared and Kooba. Shoe lovers can look out for Moschino and Ferragamo pairs come March.
If you’re not fortunate enough to be invited along to a fashion stylist’s buying trip, the next best thing would be to stalk his store.
* Seethrough is located at 25, First Floor, Jalan Kuchai Maju 7, Kuchai Entrepreneurs Park, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 603 7981 5727. To view Calvin’s work, visit www.fabrique.com.my.