“The important thing is to love what you do; work and life are not so separate anymore,” fashion designer Lee Khoon Hooi tells Bazaar as we sit down to chat at Qatar’s Fifty One East.
A glance at his gorgeously glamorous designs, on display as part of an exclusive trunk show for his eponymous brand staged at the department store to mark the Creative Director’s first visit to the Middle East, gives a tangible sense of that passion. The brand’s Fall/Winter 2022 collection, inspired by Surrealism, and specifically the works of Belgian artist, René Magritte, are a visual manifestation of Khoon Hooi’s creativity.
It was art and design that first sparked his interest in fashion but his journey into the industry was not without its challenges. Having developed a talent for sketching from a young age, fashion felt like a natural progression for him but the career choice was frowned upon. “I still remember paying my first semester’s school fees as my relatives disagreed with my choice of studies. There was a lot of pressure on me as a fashion designer was not considered to be a ‘proper’ job.’’