In one of Aloysius Wong's
window displays at his Bold and Character boutique is a cascade of Marilyn Monroe
posters and a 1940s glam queen sequinned gown. Barthes' Woman of Fashion is in this
window - "what the reader is and what she dreams of being." Norma Jean
is in that window, and what Norma Jean dreamt of being, the platinum blonde sex symbol
we call Marilyn. Aloysius Wong's couture designs for women pounces upon the anecdotes
of mass culture to give us his vision of glamour. And this vision is exuberantly
cluttered by accessories, beaded sequins, shine, pearls and boas.
Aloysius is a charming, bespectacled person who is often seen in black. His boutique
in City Square is a feast for the eyes, and a sort of showcase for the whimsical
objects he collects on his travels abroad. A Starship Enterprise telephone; two giant
black cupped hands for armchairs; doric pedestals; a stuffed dalmatian; cupid statues;
a miniature Venus de Milo; candelabras; lots of fake gilt frames; and lots of chrome.
It's kitsch meets glamour. Aloysius loves accessories and goes himself to Italy,
Holland, Paris and Australia, to shop for them. "I also like to buy basic hats,
and then add touches to them to help complete the look of the line I am working on,"
he said. "Accessories like handbags, earrings, necklaces, hats, shoes, tights,
gloves, scarves, all make a wonderful fashion statement."
Who wears his Character line of evening wear? "My clients are usually in the
creative industry, for example, advertising people, actors, singers, people who are,
or who need to be, flamboyant," he answered. And how! To be able to carry off
a Josephine Baker turban with a plume of feather in the front, or a black Vivienne
Westwood-like straw hat matched with 150 cm long ribboned gloves. His evening dresses
are beautifully conceptualised and no detail is overlooked. In fact he is a personal
stylist for more discerning customers who have their own individual style and do
not fall prey to the easy cache of western designer brands. "But in general
the Malaysian taste in fashion is good but not terribly stylish. They are no trend-setters."
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