By NASA MARIA ENTABAN
STYLIST Andrea Wong is a perfectionist. To prepare for photo shoots she goes through numerous racks of clothing items, endlessly mixing and matching until she finds the perfect combination to fit the theme and feel of a shoot or campaign.
The 28-year-old fashion expert is well known in the industry for her impeccable taste in high fashion, her instinct for style and her work as a stylist, coordinator and writer for Harper’s Bazaar magazine.
Looking at Wong now, who of course is always trendy, one would never guess that nine years ago she didn’t even know the difference between Tom Ford and Tom Jones.
“I wouldn’t say I had no interest in fashion, but I wasn’t really someone who bought magazines,” says Wong, laughing. “I liked fashion as much as the next girl, but not so much that I would follow the ‘seasons’ – I didn’t even know that there were seasons!”
The media and communications graduate did not plan to go on the fashion career path. In fact, when she first sent her resume to Harper’s Bazaar, it was for the post of marketing executive.
Although she was only 19 at the time and had no fashion experience, Wong landed the job of fashion coordinator instead, thanks to a sort of “test” project which required her to create a style page for the magazine.
“It didn’t even occur to me that it was something I could do!” recalls Wong, who in addition to coordinating fashion pages, eventually became a writer for the magazine as well.
Her responsibilities as a fashion coordinator included compiling fashion and runway photos, obtaining products from stores to include in the shoot, coming up with themes for the fashion pages and writing snippets.
From handling content for the style pages, covering fashion events and shows and directing shoots, over time her job scope expanded to “personality styling”.
“As a stylist, you not only need to put the clothes together, you also need to know how to style the model. You also need to know the lighting and how to work with the photographer,” explains Andrea, whose first big shoot was assisting in an Omega watch shoot with American supermodel Cindy Crawford, with fashion director Kenneth Goh.
“You have to have vision, you have to see how everything will look together, and you also need to know about hair and makeup, and keep up to date with what’s current.”
Apart from that, a stylist must also have excellent attention to detail.
“When the lining of the skirt is showing, for example, you need to rush over and fix it. All these little things that you don’t even know you’ve picked up over the years contribute to everything,” she adds.
After five years in Harper’s Bazaar, and having risen to the post of fashion editor, Wong decided to quit and work as a freelance stylist.
“I met people from other magazines, and they now call me to help them with their styling. I also do campaigns for some brands. There’s actually a shortage of stylists here,” she says.
“I love doing freelance because it feels like I am actually doing something for myself. I work with a team, but things are done how I want it to be, within what the client and magazines want,” she explains.
One of Wong’s recent projects was completely new to her – having connected with Miss Universe Malaysia national director Andrea Fonseka along the way, she was invited to style the 2012 Miss Malaysia contestants’ photo shoots, and be a guest judge on a few episodes of the reality show.
“That was stressful, tiring and fun! It was a new experience of being on TV,” recalls Wong. “I wanted to bring the high fashion spin to the pageant, and it was a lot of fun styling the girls. Towards the end I noticed that as I got to know them and their personalities came through, I started styling personalities, not just contestants.
“In terms of the poses that I picked for them, I was picking them based on how they were as people, rather than just on how they look.”
At the moment Wong continues doing her regular fashion shoots and styling sessions, forever monitoring trends and getting excited about new styles to hit runways and stores.