photo courtesy of Sue Wong
Today her collections may be found in prestigious stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Macy's Worn by contemporary stars like Anne Hathway, Minnie Driver Jessica Biel, Megan Hilty, etc., each references various influential periods from 1930s Shanghai to Weimar Berlin. Adopting techniques employed by the finest European couture houses, beadings, laces, embroideries and "layered textures embellished with passementerie and soutache" create an air of mystery and romance that together have become Wong's distinctive signature.
Her philosophy, however, isn't limited to the clothing she designs. Wong is surrounded by her own magic; creating romantic, sophisticated and alluring environments like her studios in New York and California. But perhaps the best representations of her spirit dwell in the three residences she owns in Malibu, Maui and Los Angeles. Affectionately referred to by the designer as Mind, Spirit and Body respectively, the each home is specifically designed to exemplify a specific state of spirituality.
The 4500 square foot four bedroom, four bath, waterfront Malibu home is her mental sphere. Having lived there for years, Wong was inspired by the Pacific Ocean and the Malibu light...clean, soothing, calm and powerful. She purchased in 1985 and, with help from best friend Paul Hinckley, transformed the "crude" southwest-designed house to a modernistic respite from the city .
Her Maui home symbolizes her spiritual sphere. Describing it as her "enchanted sanctuary," the lush oceanfront home purchased in 2007 is located in Kipahulu. Set on 35 acres of lush Nature Conservancy, which she has vowed to preserve and protect, Wong says it is a safe haven that really connects with her spirit. She further explains that her chinese name means "lotus," an opulent and pulchritudinous flower that blossoms out from muddy waters. In chinese culture, the lotus represents pureness and divinity, much like Kipahulu, which according to Wong, is simply "heaven on earth."
Nevertheless, of the three homes she owns, nothing has been talked about more than The Cedars, formerly known as the Talmadge Estate (after actress Norma Talmadge who previously owned it). The majestic residence is the embodiment of Wong's idea of a female body--seductive, mysterious and glamorous. Here Wong's maximalist and baroque leanings are at full play.
Originally built in the 1926 for film director Marcel Tourneur, the 10,000 sq. ft. Los Feliz home is legendary, having hosted a virtual Who's Who of the arts from Marilyn Monroe to Howard Hughes, Errol Flynn, Bela Lugosi, Johnny Depp, Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground and, of course, Jimi Hendrix for whom the "Hendrix Room" was named, the room that legend has it inspired the musician's obra maestra, Purple Haze.
photo courtesy of Sue Wong