Today’s interview is with the lovely and talented Chris, who I was excited to interview because she has such a fresh, feminine and classic style. Chris is adorable, very accomplished (you’ll read soon about all that below) and has an incredible wardrobe. She’s also a big fan of one of my favorite brands from Australia – Collette Dinnigan! It was wonderful getting to know Chris some more – enjoy meeting her!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
Hi, I’m Chris. I was born in Malaysia of Chinese descent, and grew up in Australia. I work and live in London. I am a mathematician working in risk management, for a global financial services company.
London finance can be a very “alpha” and male dominated environment. What have been your biggest career learnings thus far, and what would be your advice to anybody interested in pursuing that career path?
Haha, yes I look at numbers most of the time. It involves building mathematical and statistical models as best we can, to model the business environment. From there, we try to quantify the risk in monetary terms so the company knows what its potential exposures to the various business risks are. But now I tend to review work rather than do any of the model building and number crunching myself.
I do work in a male dominated industry, my whole team consists of males except me, I am always in meetings with other teams and clients where I am the only female. I accept that I am different, not because of my gender but because we are all individuals. I approach my work as a professional and doing it in a way I believe is right and most efficient. I am fortunate that in general that I believe am treated well and get along with my colleagues and my bosses. Having said that, I am not the sort of person who can be intimidated easily by anyone and I always stand up for myself. My big boss used to say to me, ” Chris, you have no fear of authority.” I responded, “Well why should I fear? I believe in myself and can support my opinions and conclusions with solid work.”
My advice really is not to think too much – if at all – about gender differences, when you find yourself in a male dominated world. The reality is that we are all individually different. I just focus on doing it my way and also believe in my abilities.
How would you describe your style? What’s a typical day look for you, and night look?
I would like to think my style is fun, carefree, careless and chic – almost always randomly put together on the spot. I don’t really plan what I wear from one day to the next. It usually depends on what is ironed and look presentable (…I am someone who constantly has 6 months worth of ironing piled up in my cupboard..!) and being in London, the weather plays a big part in what I wear on a daily and which bag I carry!
My style has gone from one extreme to the other as I got older …it has also been influenced by my complete change in lifestyle. I moved from Melbourne ,where I had a car and drove everywhere…to London, where I walk everywhere or take public transport and don’t have a car! When I was younger and living in Melbourne, I always went for the dressed up tailored fitted look and skyscraper heels, aka Victoria Beckham. But now I prefer simple casual ALL the time, unless I have formal events to go to. On weekdays, I am at work – so in suits, shirts and simple shift dresses paired with pumps.I love classy elegant shoes. Here are some that I love.
On weekends, I’m casual always, unless we have dinner at a restaurant with a formal dress code. Anything goes: colours, neutrals, matchy matchy or even clashing!
For formal events such as weddings, engagement parties, company events, etc, I love my tailor made cheongsams from Shanghai, and also my Collette Dinnigan dresses, with my Giuseppe Zanotti or Manolo heels.
You have a lovely Hermes collection in a great array of colors and styles. Can you share some more about your collection, and some of your favorite pieces?
My favourite bags? Hmm…gosh I love them all. Everytime I rotate, I feel like I have a new bag.
My first Hermes bag was the Hermes Evelyne in Rubis…I have always liked the Evelyne. As soon as I could afford it, I bought it. Then I saw someone carrying an orange Lindy in Hermes Singapore, and I went on a mission to search for one. Now I have three Lindys, all in size 30. I was hooked from that point on and the rest was history as they say! I love Hermes enamels, Clic-Clacs, leather bracelets, Twillies and shawls too. My current loves are my Concours D’Etriers shawls. Spectacularly colourful and beautiful.
What items from your wardrobe do you wear the most?
I love rose gold, and I wear my my Van Cleef rose gold Perlee clover diamond bangle and my Piaget rose gold diamond watch most days. And lately my Hermes shawls too as it hasn’t been much of a summer this year in London!
What are some of your favorite luxury and high street brands to shop at?
My favourite luxury brand now is Hermes. I used to love the Blugirl range from Blumarine. And I still love Collette Dinnigan I have bought other brands in the past: Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Chanel etc..but none were my favourites. I also favour clothes that have Asian designs and influences.
My favourite high street store brands are all Japanese: Uniqlo and Muji being the two available in London. I buy them when I visit Japan or Hong Kong. Japan is my favourite holiday destination, I love Japanese food and culture.
Was Hermes your first “luxury brand” love? What was the first item you bought?
Yes, Hermes is my first and only luxury brand love. I buy other brands too but I don’t love them as I do Hermes. My first Hermes item was a pair of Oran sandals when I had a shoe obsession many years ago. I have many pairs of shoes, some still unworn after many years, and I have a reached saturation point with my collection. Not many shoe designs interest me these days, I am not a fan of platforms which are all the rage these days. I just bought my first Chanel ballet flats since CC are my initials!
My first Hermes bag was my Rubis Evelyne which I have used and abused and it still looks pretty good! I don’t baby my Hermes bags, they are meant to be used and reflect my lifestyle. The only Hermes bag I am extra careful with is my black box Kelly, I just don’t carry it in the rain!
If you could do your Hermes collection all over again starting from the beginning – what would you do differently?
That’s a difficult one. It really was, and still is, trial and error to find out which bag/bracelets/scarf/shawl works and which doesn’t. But thankfully, given their eye for design, colour and quality and also thoughtfulness in the things they create, Hermes works for me most of the time.
Anyway I would have liked certain colours in my collection for the bags – Vert Fonce, Vert Veronese, Vert Bronze and Rouge H and Rouge Garance…colours that are either rested or gone for good. I would like to have given more consideration to the reputable resellers – for example Haute Gallery and Kaleidoplace to get the the older colours. But hey, I was a newbie, am still relatively a newbie, so bought all my Hermes from Hermes directly except for my Blue Paon Chevre HAC and Vert Clair Courchevel Kelly!
Can you share a piece of advice about shopping/style/choosing the right items that you’ve learned the hard way over the years?
It is way more economical to buy the one expensive piece that you love and will use a lot, rather than buying cheaper alternatives that end up not being used and sitting in the closet for years, in order to feel less guilty about spending so much money on one piece. However this is easier said (with the benefit of hindsight!) than done.
What percent of your items do you buy on sale, vs. full price?
Most of my clothes and shoes purchases are sale items except for Hermes and Van Cleef.
Can you share a piece of life advice that you’ve taken to heart over the years?
Life is too short to care about what other people say or think about you and your actions/decisions/choices in life. I am fortunate to have lived in countries where I am free to live my life the way i want and therefore I will do just that!
I also strive to be humble, and not be judgemental. I tend to get judged a lot based on my appearance. I eat a lot, eat what I want, don’t exercise and don’t put on weight and I have received a lot of unpleasant comments like, “Oh I am sure she doesn’t eat”, or “You must spend all your free time in the gym right?” from strangers, acquaintances and colleagues who don’t know me well. I have always been slim but most importantly healthy. I rarely ever get sick. I think people should be more accepting that we are diverse in our genetic make-up. It really annoyed me to no end when I was younger, now I just smile and eat my cake! So I try strive not to judge people in the same way.
Finally – please share something surprising about yourself!
I love to sleep! I think that’s the secret to being healthy and looking youthful and probably helps with staying slim too!
I also look grumpy all the time so people who don’t know me sometimes think that I am scary because of the unsmiling expression on my face. But once they get to know me well, they are rather surprised that I am so easy to get along with and am a rather funny person. I have heard this from many close friends of mine!
The last part made me laugh because I have had a similar problem – except unfortunately, people tend to think that I’m a ditz (possibly accurately) based on what I’ve been told is a very clueless look on my face a lot of the time. In fact, I was particularly infamous for an incident in college when one day walking down the street in Berkeley, a bus driver actually took the time to call out, “Hey lady! Are you lost??” ….anyway.
I really enjoyed Chris’s interview – she just wears color so beautifully and has so many lovely colors in her wardrobe – something I really admire. It’s clear that Chris is not only stylish with a killer wardrobe but incredibly intelligent and accomplished. Thank you Chris for sharing some of your life with us today – and I hope you all enjoyed meeting her as much as I did!