Described as Malaysia’s King of Fashion, Bernard Chandran is a renowned fashion designer known in his country for designing for the Royal families of Malaysia and Brunel. Outside of Malaysia, Chandran has designed for Miss Universe winners and international stars such as Lady Gaga, Estelle, and Tori Amos.
But Chandran comes from more humble beginnings. Becoming a fashion designer was a big decision in Malaysia in the 1980’s, and Chandran had to persuade his parents that he did not want to become an accountant as they intended. Chandran instead studied at the International Fashion Training Centre in Malaysia, where he won a place at the Paris Fashion School in France. It is here where Chandran impressed designer and perfume creator Lolita Lempicka, who Chandran turned down for a job and instead pursued a fashion career back in Malaysia.
Instead, Chandran set up his own couture house in Kuala Lumpur, and beginning designing for the rich and royals in Kuala Lumpur. Chandran’s style is to take the traditional Malay outfits and to transform them into something modern and trendy. Today his humble shop has expanded into four other shops and is 300 square meters in area, as well as opening another outlet in Knightsbridge in London.
Chandran’s success is also down to his enormous self confidence, and determination to succeed. Speaking to fashion students in 2004, he said: “I believe in myself. If my heart feels right then I will go with what it says”.
Amongst his awards, Chandran was the first non-European winner of the Open Contest for Look of The Year in 2000 in 1991, was voted Designer of the Year in the Malaysian International Fashion Awards 2003, and was awarded Malaysian’s International Fashion Alliance’s Special Achievement Award 2009. Outside of fashion, Chndran received the honorable Datuk- a Malay honorific title by the Sultan of Pahang, Malaysia.