For Vivienne Tam, founder of her internationally celebrated eponymous brand, true luxury in life stems from a freedom of transformation and integrity of self. Discover why ‘Asian at Heart, International in Spirit’ is not simply a concept, but an embodiment of all that she is.
Your brand is synonymous with elevated luxury. What do you want your pieces to say and how do you want women to feel when they wear them?
In the very beginning of my career, I was dressing myself, but now we are going through a wonderful time of growth and transformation for women. It is very different to when I started; women are more powerful. Now, I want it to be more about them rather than myself; it’s about being inclusive. There are so many different types of women, and I love being able to think about how they feel, especially now, when the passage of time is different. It needs to be relevant; it’s not just about feeling good. I want to empower them and to leave them feeling that they have learned something about the world, about different cultures.
What feeds your passion and drives you forward?
I feel I was born with a mission to bring Chinese culture to the world; I am a bridge between two cultures. Every collection is about sharing this mission and this passion. Chinese culture is so rich, it always made me wonder why everybody was only looking to the West, so for me, it’s about bridging these two ideas. It’s communicating with the world about who I am, and having a platform to do that – it’s such a great vehicle. Being a lifestyle designer allows you to share the beauty of the world. When I was young, it was very simple, I just wanted to dress myself. But then you go deeper and deeper, and it’s not just about that anymore. It’s a connection between people, it’s unifying the world. I am always learning.
What do you consider as the cornerstone of exceptional design?
You cannot compromise your integrity. Even though people might say I ought not do so much with a Chinese filter, I cannot compromise, because that is who I am.
So, you feel that being cross-cultural is simply an intrinsic part of you?
Yes. A lot of the time, people are commenting on what I do, but I think you need to be truly who you are. You have to stay true to yourself, and I am definitely a bridge between two cultures.
In your experience, what do you consider as the finer things in life?
They are immaterial. A freedom to be who you want to be, and become what you want to be. It’s about the journey – the freedom to transform.
A freedom that you often find on your travels. Tell us about that.
When you travel, you can learn so much about other people, and other cultures. When you’re in a new place, it’s that sense of freedom. I love travelling – there are no boundaries. Travelling is that literal journey, where you can transform yourself. It brings me so much joy; all your senses are liberated. Meeting people, speaking to them, appreciating the arts and crafts of new places – it means so much to me. I always find it so inspiring to think about how I can interpret what I see when I come back. I need to travel more! It gives me so much energy.
And when you’re observing and absorbing this energy from new cultures, do you feel like you’re filtering that through an Asian lens for your customers?
I feel like it’s a very global lens, but, yes, with an Asian element. I grew up in Hong Kong, and now I live in New York and Hong Kong. It gives me a very unique perspective; it’s very hard to describe it – I don’t use words; I use my designs to express it! When two things come together, it brings so much joy and happiness; it brings a balance.
It seems Dream Cruises’ ‘Asian at Heart, International in Spirit’ concept really means something to you.
This totally speaks to me. This is me. It’s who I am; it’s not even a concept. There’s no trying to be anything else, it’s fundamental. I am the embodiment of ‘Asian at Heart, International in Spirit’.
Photographer Pierre Dal Corso
Art Director Harriet Gregory
Stylist Tasha Ling
Hair and Makeup Wendy Lee