As in previous years, the eight icons they chose are enviable standard-bearers in their own unique ways, busy women who exemplify style as they negotiate the constant demands of career and family. To reflect that, the editors had them photographed on the go, as they so often are, using modes of transport traditionally associated with their cities. These are women on the move, modern urban mavens pushing boundaries and boldly stepping forward.
1. Karen Ong-Tan, Singapore
Statuesque. That is the first word that comes to mind when Karen Ong-Tan enters the room. Which is why she was inducted into Singapore Tatler’s Fashion Hall of Fame in 2016, and picked as the Most Stylish Lady for 2017. This fashion maven knows how to cut a striking figure in daring ensembles, topping the best‑dressed list at most events she attends. Her demeanour, too, exudes pure elegance, but also strength—the mark of a woman supremely comfortable in her body.
“Karen is the epitome of elegance,” says Singapore Tatler editor-in-chief Kissa Castañeda. “Whatever the occasion, she is always impeccably dressed and polished. This, however, doesn’t mean that she is predictable. Far from it. The corporate consultant and mother of one has a flair for adding unexpected elements, resulting in looks that are at once timely and timeless.”
In Karen’s words, “Style is the way a person chooses to approach the everyday. It’s inherently rooted in a person’s disposition, and his or her outlook on life. Fashion is just a small part of it, but it’s certainly a fabulous way to express it. So I like to play with it.”
The daughter of prominent society maven Lilian Ong, Karen, a lawyer by training, is the co-founder and corporate director of professional services consultancy Stockbridge, which advises clients in areas such as company and project structuring, asset purchase and finance. She also supports charitable causes focused on the elderly and palliative care.
Married to Samuel Tan, who she affectionately calls her life captain, she credits their five-year-old daughter, Kara—who accompanies her everywhere dressed in equally stylish and complementary outfits—as her biggest inspiration in life and style.
“After having Kara, I’ve learnt that fashion has a practical aspect that cannot be ignored,” Karen says. “Since becoming a mother, I’ve expanded my wardrobe to include an extensive playground and playwear section, and realised ballgowns are fabulous hiding places. I’ve also learnt that mishaps happen. Like getting your new H Stern earrings accidentally pulled out of shape, beautiful clothes torn and stained, or even having milk spilt in your crocodile Birkin bag.”
But it is all worth it. “Kara has given me a new perspective on life, but also made me look at material things for what they are: ephemeral objects we’re blessed to have but, at the end of the day, don’t matter.”