"I'm not stingy about my dreams," declares Bernard Chandran as he walks us through a recreation of his studio, plastered with pages of magazines and posters of pop icons including Michael Jackson and David Bowie, at his fashion retrospective exhibition in Fahrenheit88 mall. "I wanted to have a beauty queen wife, just like Duran Duran—and my dream became a reality," he laughs, referring to Datin Mary Lourdes Chandran, his wife and mother to their five children.
But that is not the only fantasy that the Malaysian King of Fashion has brought to life. Over the last 34 years, the fashion veteran has propelled Malaysia's fashion scene to new heights and gained international acclaim for his innovative designs, earning praise from Estelle, Lady Gaga and even HRH Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.
This level of ambition and drive is what Bernard shares with Andrew Yap who spearheaded the success of Big Bad Wolf Books and BookXcess alongside his wife, Jacqueline Ng. As part of their mission to change Malaysia and the world with the power of books, BookXcess partners up with Bernard's 'Dreams and Reality' exhibition to provide a wide selection of inspiring fashion, art and design-related books within the showcase itself.
The two inspiring figures share the story behind their collaboration and the impact that they hope this exhibition will have on the younger generation.
What was the motivation behind the 'Dreams and Reality' exhibition?
Bernard Chandran: When I was studying in Europe, I was inspired (and also a bit jealous) that there were always exhibitions happening. Whether it was in art galleries or museums, parents could always take their children for a visit and plan months, if not years, ahead to see a specific painter or artist. I've always dreamed to have something like this in Malaysia—something to inspire the younger generation.
Andrew Yap: I never grew up around books and when I had the opportunity to study at the prestigious St. John's Institution, I realised that my classmates who had been exposed to books generally did better. And if you look at all the most successful people in the world, you will often find that knowledge go hand in hand with success. They can relate to books and magazines.
That was the case with Bernard. The message behind this exhibition, as we celebrate Bernard's 34-year career in one of the most competitive industries in the world, is that books can be inspiring and empowering, especially for the younger generation. And an exhibition is also great for them to experience something new and unique, instead of following the typical weekend routine at the mall.
How did your partnership come about?
AY: I was very impressed with what Bernard did with the space at Fahrenheit88. It was a complete 180-degree from when I first visited! I was blown away by how he decorated the space and I brought in his fashion couture pieces. We set up a meeting and brought a couple of books that I thought he would like. At first, I was a bit unsure of how it was going to go. You never know—he could've been a diva! But he was great and we definitely hit it off. I foresee many collaborations in the future.
BC: I was in a rush when we first met. And I didn't know that they had so many fashion and design books at such great prices. It only made sense to have BookXcess as part of our exhibition—people should know that they can access these types of books here. Andrew was also so generous to offer a 20 per cent discount for all exhibition visitors with our special bookmark.
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