The fashion designer dubbed as Malaysia's King of Fashion offers a refreshed take on men's designs with Figure by Bernard Chandran at Fahrenheit88, Kuala Lumpur
The bright decor and aesthetics of the Bernard Chandran boutique, where romantic gowns and feminine silhouettes are showcased, contrasts the all-black and industrial feel of his latest outlet, Figure – located a level below Dato' Sri Bernard Chandran's bespoke and ready-to-wear women's boutique.
With an ornate vintage matador jacket on display plus visual art by the designer himself on the walls, Figure is an extension of Dato' Sri Bernard's esteemed menswear range, with a space dedicated for dapper men in search of sporty or vintage-style jackets as well as elaborate suits.
Showcasing austere coats and jackets featuring preppy tartan textiles and the more flamboyant baroque, the boutique highlights that there is still an appeal to brick and mortar establishments within this internet age. We spoke with Dato' Sri Bernard Chandran after a quick photoshoot of him and his sons, Trunan Lournard Chandran and Terimunite Lournard Chandran, to discuss his muse for men's fashion and the ways in which he creatively transforms 'uniform' looks into stylish getups.
What made you decide to open your menswear boutique under the already established brand, Figure Fashions?
"Well, I bought over Figure Fashions because of its level of craftsmanship, and wanted to add to it. While the team behind the label still retain the classic tailoring elements of their suits, like their touch of classic details such as the vintage-style jackets inspired by the '70s and '80s, what I intend to do is to amplify the look. Perhaps mix the fabrics and do some patchwork to update the designs and give it more of an appeal.
Essentially we're still using the DNA of the classic cut but, we are making it more contemporary, so the brand's followers are ready for Figure by Bernard Chandran as we move forward with it."
How involved were you in the design of the boutique's decor and interior?
"Very much so, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Back when I was studying in Paris, I would always make time to visit interior design fairs and exhibitions because I enjoy looking at the furniture, wallpaper patterns and other design elements. I like to add items and touches that are relatable to me, instead of just any expensive painting or a piece of China that has no relevance to me.
Take for example the Mickey Mouse figurines on the top shelf in the boutique, there are 5 of them because it represents my children."
Your designs tend to feature a lot of pop prints and extravagant patterns, is it more difficult to experiment with this look in men's fashion compared to womenswear?
"Not at all, because I look at this as an amazing marriage between my creations for both men and women. During the design process, I would look at examples like the traditional Indian Maharaja's clothes with its ornate jewels and such, then show it to my team. My reasoning is that if they can create such magnificence in the past, why can't we attempt to replicate it now? I believe with the right touch, even a straight cut fabric can be made into a circular piece."
Why do you incorporate a lot of Malaysian-inspired patterns in your designs, like the silhouette of former Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman in a design from your Petang Raya 2019 collection?
"I think that the more I travel and see the world, it reminds me that I have everything I need back here. I grew up in such a diverse family and neighbourhood and we're always taking care of each other, I think it's beautiful to acknowledge that, so I wanted to have our pop culture, our national fruits and even the symbol of our Ringgit currency as part of my designs because I think it's amazing and also a homage!"
Who or what would you say is your muse when it comes to designing menswear?
"Can I say myself? (Laughs) I'm not saying this because I like myself! A lot of people think that I put in a lot of hours when I put a look together, but I just wear what I want. And this is the same when it comes to creating looks for my clients. Before they come to me to design their suits or outfits, they would roughly know what they want. I just make their designs a little less stiff so it's not too 'safe' and yet still looks effortless."
What do you hope your clients would get from their experience at Figure by Bernard Chandran?
"I think those who love and appreciate fashion would find something they like when they come to the boutique, see the outfits and try them on instead of just going online. There are a lot of options and various textiles and accessories in-store such as organza bow-ties and seasonal tuxes. Sometimes there's an emotion that you get when trying out clothes and it's better to go for fittings and even restyle some of the designs because everyone's body shape and preference are different."