40 Asian Women Making Waves In The Fashion World
1/40 Anaïs Mak, Hong Kong
The designer, a 2016 Generation T Lister, founded her feminine and minimalist clothing brand Anaïs Jourden in 2012. A graduate of the private fashion school Studio Berçot in Paris, Anaïs was a semi-finalist in the 2015 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers and won Italian Vogue’s emerging designer award the same year. Her label is the only Hong Kong brand on the official Paris Fashion Week calendar.
She’s also off to a strong start in 2019—Ariana Grande rocked a metallic light blue bomber from Jourden in her 7 Rings music video, and this month Anaïs will reveal a line of uniforms she has designed for Hong Kong’s Rosewood Hotel.
2/40 Victoria Tang-Owen, Hong Kong
The daughter of the late David Tang, Victoria is no stranger to the fashion, art and cultural scene and is a published photographer. With her husband, Christopher Owen, she co-founded the branding agency Thirty30 Creative, and she was appointed late last year as creative director of Shanghai Tang, the fashion and lifestyle label founded by her late father Sir David Tang in 1994.
Whether she’s attending events in Hong Kong dressed by designer friends like Huishan Zhang and Ms Min, or jetting off to fashion shows such as those of close friend Kim Jones, Victoria proves that style runs in the family.
3/40 Hilary Tsui, Hong Kong
One of the city’s most celebrated style icons, Hilary boasts more than 192,000 followers on Instagram. With a daring sporty-yet-chic sensibility, she has an iconic look all her own, often mixing designer duds, such as Chanel and Vetements, with the latest sneaker collaborations from Nike.
Hilary and friend Dorothy Hui opened their Liger boutique in 2009, stocking an edgy mix of designers such Toga Archives, Jourden, Petar Petrov and Natasha Zinko. The boutique closed in October last year, but word is that Hilary will be opening her own shop this year.
4/40 Christina Dean, Hong Kong
Leading the charge towards sustainable fashion in Hong Kong is Christina Dean, who founded Hong Kong-based NGO Redress in 2007 and is recognised on our 2017 Generation T list. The former dentist and journalist is best known for her work in educating the public on textile waste, launching pop-up shops for clothing exchange, and establishing the Redress Design Awards, the world’s largest sustainable design competition to support eco-conscious fashion designers.
She recently launched the R Collective, a zero-waste fashion label boasting collaborations with emerging sustainable designers that is available at luxury retailer Lane Crawford, and started an initiative with Zara to collect unwanted clothing for recycling.
See also: Hong Kong's Power Women And The Women Who Inspire Them
5/40 Dee Poon, Hong Kong
The daughter of retail mogul Dickson Poon and Esquel Group chairwoman Marjorie Yang, Harvard graduate Dee caught the fashion bug early, acting as editor-at-large for fashion magazine iLook before becoming managing director and chief brand officer of Pye, the retail arm of the Esquel, which manufactures luxury shirts for brands such as Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren.
She is an advocate for a more responsible approach to production by reducing waste, and was a panellist at the New York Times’ International Luxury Conference in Hong Kong in November alongside other industry leaders.
See also: Behind The Scenes: Dee Poon On Sustainability And Her Go-To Style
6/40 Fanny Tsai, Taiwan
The grand-niece of billionaire plastics tycoon Wang Yung-ching, Fanny has her great uncle’s head for business. She is the founder and CEO of jewellery brand Weng Collection, and also acts as an agent for several European fashion brands, including Chiara Ferragni, LK Bennett and, most recently, Karl Lagerfeld in Taiwan.
Weng Collection was the first Taiwanese jewellery brand to be invited to participate in Bijorhca Paris, a major European jewellery fair, in 2017. Last year she was honoured by Taiwan Tatler as Most Stylish Woman.
See also: Asia's Most Stylish: Fanny Tsai
7/40 Brenda Po-chin Sung, Taiwan
While her family manufactures water purification equipment in Taiwan, Brenda’s world revolves around fashion. The high-society butterfly is the founder and creative director of Inluxe Casa, a leading high fashion and home furnishings boutique.
Her flagship store, located in Taipei, stocks international brands like Christopher Esber, Giamba and Naeem Khan. The Central Saint Martins graduate is close friends with many of the world’s top designers, including Prabal Gurung, Ryan Roche, and Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia, the designers behind Sachin & Babi.
8/40 Leslie Sun, Taiwan
The cousin of renowned Taiwanese jewellery designer and socialite Aimee Yun-yun Sun, Leslie is a style stalwart in her own right. In 2014 she founded Sunset, an experimental concept store for functional lifestyle objects. The boutique has since evolved into a creative agency and multidisciplinary project space, where Leslie creates dialogues between art, fashion, music, film and design.
In 2018, Leslie was invited by Chanel to Paris for a photo shoot of their pre-fall collection. She is also the founder and director of the Young Collectors Club of Taiwan, which provides education and social networking opportunities for young professionals interested in learning about and collecting contemporary art.
9/40 Wang Li-ling, Taiwan
Since founding her eponymous brand in 2016, the heir to the Kuang Chuan Dairy fortune has presented twice at New York Fashion Week and won praise from the likes of Vogue. Li-ling, who studied material futures at Central Saint Martins, is known for her avant-garde aesthetic.
Her label, Wangliling, fuses tradition with the futuristic, juxtaposing classic techniques like embroidery, beading and weaving with high-tech, photosensitive fabrics, some of which appear to glow in the dark.
See also: Bright Young Things: Meet 9 Of Hong Kong's Hottest Young Professionals
10/40 Mandy de la Rama-Santos, The Philippines
As a young girl Mandy often accompanied her mother, a clothing manufacturer for casualwear brands like Gap and Marks & Spencer, to their factory. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that the former model considers comfort key when it comes to personal style.
She loves to pair sneakers with jeans and tees, and isn’t at all consumed by trends. While she once owned and operated children’s clothing line Tarte Tatin, Mandy now works as the creative director at major eyewear retailer Branded Lifestyle as well as marketing corporation Honey Barn, which handles marketing for Sanrio, the creators of Hello Kitty.
11/40 Beatrice (Bea) Panlilio-Valdes, The Philippines
For Bea, whose family has been in the jewellery trade for three generations, design was a calling. She started her eponymous line of embellished evening bags in 2004 and it wasn’t long before US Vogue was hailing them as the must-have It bags of the season.
Her designs have been spotted on the arms of Sharon Stone and Kate Hudson. Bea’s artistry extends way beyond totes and clutches, however. She has worked on interiors for the Shangri-La Colombo and Shangri-La at the Fort in Manila, and last year collaborated with Philippine furniture brand Philux to create a line of whimsical chairs, cushions and cabinets.
12/40 Vania Romoff, The Philippines
The granddaughter of Cebu’s first couturier, Vania was born into a family of fashion designers and garment manufacturers. She debuted her first collection at Philippine Fashion Week in 2009 and has since designed bridal and evening gowns for numerous celebrities and members of Manila’s high society.
Known for her feminine, whimsical designs, she opened her first bricks-and-mortar store last year in Manila’s Rockwell Centre.
See also: Time Traveller: Joyce Wang Brings Louis Vuitton's Objets Nomades Showcase To Life
13/40 Leonora Luisa (Len) Cabili, The Philippines
It was a cancer diagnosis that motivated this former fashion stylist to follow her dream of becoming a designer. Founded in 2010, her label, Filip + Inna, employs craftsmen from local indigenous tribes to create intricate, hand-beaded and embroidered pieces that recall traditional Filipino dress.
This year, the brand will launch a diffusion line called F + I. Len was a mentor at last year’s Ternocon, a fashion competition spearheaded by the Cultural Centre of the Philippines that champions the country’s national dress.
14/40 Amina Aranaz-Alunan, The Philippines
One of the Philippines’ most recognised designers, Amina this year celebrates the 20th anniversary of her accessories brand, Aranaz. Known for its artisanal bags handmade from fibres such as straw, abaca and raffia, the label—founded by Amina, her mother Becky and sister Rosanna—goes global this year, with its latest collection available through Joyce, Bergdorf Goodman and Moda Operandi.
Her designs have been spotted on the arms of Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and Queen Mathilde of Belgium. In addition to her career as a designer, Amina co-founded Makati City’s School of Fashion and the Arts (Sofa), now known as the Sofa Design Institute, and works as its executive director.
15/40 Pimdao Sukhahuta, Thailand
Fashion designer Pimdao likes to keep it in the family. A graduate of the Parsons School of Design, she is the creative force behind Sretsis, the womenswear brand she founded with her two sisters, Kly and Matina (Sretsis is “sisters” spelt backwards).
The brand, which has stores in Tokyo and Bangkok, crafts whimsical, feminine silhouettes with modern, quirky twists. Pimdao is married to Pierre-Alexandre Darbois, who works for the company as its international sales and business development manager.
16/40 Orawan Setabandhu, Thailand
Considered one of Bangkok’s most stylish women, designer and entrepreneur Orawan has loved fashion since she was a child. She founded Olivia Diamonds in 2005, which is known for its contemporary, sculptural take on jewellery.
To make her creations accessible to younger generations, Orawan recently launched a diffusion accessory line, OLVD by Olivia Diamonds, and a line of good luck charms called Leila Amulets. Half the profits from each amulet sold are donated to charity. Last year, the mother of two opened No 209, a spa offering remedial and slimming massage therapies.
See also: 15 High Jewellery Pieces And Watches We Loved At The Oscars 2019
17/40 Vatanika Patamasingha Na Ayudhaya, Thailand
Impeccable tailoring and feminine silhouettes are at the core of Vatanika’s eponymous womenswear and accessories brand, of which she is creative director. Her designs have won her many celebrity admirers, including Miranda Kerr, Jennifer Lopez and Cara Delevingne. Vatanika, however, has become a celebrity in her own right after starring in the reality show This is Me Vatanika, which has been called the "Thai version of Keeping Up With The Kardashians".
Constantly surrounded by a coterie of hipsters and high-profile friends, Vatanika shares the ins and outs of her jet-setting lifestyle with over 770,000 Instagram followers. A collaboration with Franck Muller is apparently in the pipeline.
18/40 Disaya Sorakraikitikul, Thailand
While studying at Central Saint Martins, Disaya was given the opportunity to intern with John Galliano. The experience spurred a love affair with high fashion and it wasn’t long before Disaya launched her own brand. What began as lingerie label Boudoir by Disaya in 2004 has expanded into ready-to-wear and costume jewellery.
Disaya is married to fashion entrepreneur Danai Sorakraikitikul of A-List Corporate, the importer and distributor of Valentino, Jimmy Choo, Chloé and Giuseppe Zanotti.
19/40 Pranapda Phornprapha, Thailand
Missoni, Berluti and Christian Louboutin are just some of the major international brands distributed by Pranapda’s company, Paroshoot, in Thailand. “Our vision has always been to get in bed with boutique brands with a heritage, and preferably brands that are still being managed by their founders/owners,” Pranapda says.
The Brown University graduate is simultaneously a director of Siam Motors and runs her family’s Yamaha Music School. She’s a keen advocate of women’s rights and this year plans to launch a women’s social space to support and empower other entrepreneurial women.
20/40 Liu Wen, Mainland China
Dubbed “China’s first bona fide supermodel” by the New York Times in 2012, the statuesque Wen is used to firsts. She was the first Chinese model to appear on the front cover of American Vogue, the first model of East Asian descent to walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the first ambassador of East Asian descent for beauty giant Estée Lauder, and the first Asian model to make Forbes’ annual list of highest-paid models.
She has appeared in campaigns for Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Oscar de la Renta, Hugo Boss and Alexander Wang, to name a few.
See also: 7 Chinese Models Who Walked The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show In Shanghai
21/40 Tasha Liu, Mainland China
A champion of Chinese design talent, Tasha quit a high-flying job in finance to pursue a career in fashion. As co-founder of multi-brand retail giant Dong Liang, which has stores in Beijing and Shanghai, she created a platform for promising local designers to showcase their wares to the world.
In 2016 Tasha established a young designer showcase called Labelhood under the umbrella of Shanghai Fashion Week. The four-day affair is now considered the highlight of the festival.
22/40 Lu Yan, Mainland China
This supermodel turned fashion designer founded her own womenswear brand, Comme Moi, in 2013 and has since watched it evolve into one of China’s most successful contemporary labels, stocked by the likes of Lane Crawford and Dong Liang.
Her garments are regularly worn by the likes of Gong Li and Li Bingbing and are popular with Vogue China’s editor-in-chief, Angelica Cheung. Yan, who has over four million followers on Weibo, designs for fashion-forward working women who value simplicity and elegance.
See also: Meet Hong Kong's Richest Women Of 2019
23/40 Wendy Yu, Mainland China
A business mogul, philanthropist and diehard collector of Barbie dolls, Wendy is the dynamic young founder of Yu Holdings, an investment firm focused on emerging businesses in the fashion, lifestyle and technology sectors. Her more prominent fashion investments include clothing brand Mary Katrantzou and Samantha Cameron’s label Cefinn. Wendy is a dedicated patron of the arts.
She is a member of the Met Gala Committee, supports the Victoria and Albert Museum and is the youngest member of the British Fashion Council’s board of trustees. She can often be seen alongside industry figures Anna Wintour and Angelica Cheung at the hottest soirees around the world.
24/40 Li Lin, Mainland China
Lin is a force in the business of fashion. She’s the founder and creative director of China’s JNBY Group, which designs and sells contemporary apparel, footwear and accessories across three brands—JNBY, Croquis and Less—each of which caters to a distinct consumer segment.
The group’s mission is to create a “lifestyle ecosystem” that addresses customers’ needs at different stages of their lives, thereby ensuring long-term customer loyalty. Lin oversees the group’s 1,500 stores worldwide.
See also: Taking Flight: Cindy Chao's Bejewelled Butterflies
25/40 Jenny Kim, Mainland China
This sartorial superwoman has acute foresight when it comes to the future of fashion in China. Conscious that the country’s growing economy is creating a massive middle class, in 2004 Jenny founded EPO Fashion Group, a conglomerate with a mission to provide stylish but affordable products to this ballooning consumer group.
EPO now owns and operates five fashion and beauty brands—MO & Co, Little MO & Co, Edition, Common Gender, and Rec—and has more than 1,000 stores worldwide, including 10 in Hong Kong and seven in Paris.
26/40 Chen Man, Mainland China
This glamorous visual artist has been called the Annie Leibovitz of China. Her photography has been exhibited around the world and now features in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
Man’s sphere of influence is broader than her photography, however. She is now considered a style icon and is in front of the lens as much as she’s behind it. She was the first photographer to be invited to the Met Gala as a guest, is a global ambassador for watch brand Hublot and was our own cover star in December 2018.
See also: Calling The Shots: Photographer Chen Man On Using Her Fame For Good
27/40 Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor, Malaysia
A household name in Malaysia and known simply as Neelofa, this model, actress and entrepreneur first tasted fame when she won Miss Teen Malaysia in 2010. After dabbling in acting, she launched her successful headscarf label, Naelofar Hijab.
Her company’s headscarves are now sold in more than 37 countries, including Brunei, Indonesia, Australia, the UAE and the UK.
28/40 Zaireen Ibrahim, Malaysia
The daughter of Penang politician Ibrahim Saad, Zaireen spent a decade working for Malaysia’s Melium Group of high-end shopping malls. She rose to be assistant general manager and worked closely with such top international brands at Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Lanvin and Pucci.
Last year she moved to L’Oréal as corporate communications director, assuming responsibility for YSL Beauty, Lancôme and many more brands. She counts socialites and fellow fashionistas Marion Caunter, Zatashah Idris and Scha Alyahya among her best friends.
29/40 Ung Yiu Lin, Malaysia
“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world,” Marilyn Monroe is reputed to have said, and entrepreneur Ung Yiu is a living example. The owner of Shoes, Shoes, Shoes, a leading footwear brand with three stores and a booming online presence, is a fixture on Malaysia’s high-society circuit.
While she focuses on local designers when it comes to her stores, she is regularly invited to events for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and La Mer.
30/40 Melinda Looi, Malaysia
Melinda, whose sister Beatrice is also a respected fashion designer, is known for her avant-garde take on vintage style. Her couture, ready-to-wear and bridal collections are bold and highly decorative, featuring beads, crystals and semi-precious stones.
Melina was invited to show her designs at Contemporary Muslim Fashions, an exhibition staged by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco last year. The mother of four is a “night owl” and will often stay up to 3am when she’s on a creative roll.
See also: 5 Red Lipsticks For Power Women
31/40 Kavita Sidhu, Malaysia
This former beauty queen is much more than a bundle of good genes. Kavita, who in 1990 became the first Malaysian to win an international beauty pageant and went on to model for international designers such as Jean-Louis Scherrer and Escada, launched her own silk kaftan label, Kvita, in 2017.
She has also ventured into film—she starred in two popular horror movies in 2004 and 2005—and food, co-owning the upmarket Zenzero Group of restaurants with her husband Roberto Guiati.
32/40 Vivy Sofinas Yusof, Malaysia
A law graduate from the London School of Economics, Vivy is as sharp as she is stylish. A chronic entrepreneur, she is chief creative officer at FashionValet, a multimillion-dollar e-commerce company she founded with her husband.
She’s also the founder of Duck, a leading women’s accessories brand that specialises in chic headscarves. Vivy, the first hijab-wearing woman to be named a Friend of Louis Vuitton, is a powerful social influencer. She has a popular blog called Proudduck and more than a million followers on Instagram.
33/40 Pek Lay Peng, Singapore
Pek owns SocietyA, a multi-label fashion retailer that curates up-and-coming Asian designers. Headquartered in Singapore, its mission is to elevate Asian brands and make them accessible to shoppers around the world.
Named Best Dressed at the 2018 Singapore Tatler Ball, Pek, soon to have her third child, manages to maintain great style while running her fashion empire and working as executive director of the Shingda Group of Companies, a Singaporean construction group owned by her family.
See also: Fashion Meets Art: We Brought Asia's Most Stylish Women To Zaha Hadid's Morpheus Hotel In Macau
34/40 Dawn Koh, Singapore
When it comes to couture and cakes, Dawn’s credentials are second to none. She’s a graduate of Central Saint Martins and the London College of Fashion as well as Le Cordon Bleu.
Voted Best Dressed at the Singapore Tatler Fashion Awards in 2017, Dawn is known for her cutting edge style—clean lines, and bold twists of colour and texture. She co-founded ultra-decadent cake shop Chalk Farm with her brother Bryan in 2010.
35/40 Mae Tan, Singapore
This key opinion leader has mastered the business of fashion at just 24 years of age. Mae is creative manager of Surrender, a multi-label menswear retailer that began as a small boutique in Singapore’s Raffles Hotel, and now owns Japanese brand Christian Dada and distributes various men’s brands in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan.
A savvy media operator, Mae has more than 800,000 Instagram followers under the handle @marxmae and is filming a local content series called Singapore Socials with Netflix. Her father, Dave Tan, runs luxury watch brand Richard Mille Asia.
36/40 Velda Tan, Singapore
Fashion and food are Velda’s two great passions. The entrepreneur is the founder and creative director of apparel brands Collate the Label, Our Second Nature and Our Mini Nature, and co-owner of trendy lobster shack Pince & Pints with her husband, Frederick Yap.
She’s particularly passionate about empowering women to achieve in business. In 2016, she co-founded Galboss Asia, a networking symposium that brings together entrepreneurial women.
37/40 Mety Choa, Indonesia
Mety is the trendsetting design talent behind atelier Maison Met, which specialises in made-to-measure bridal, evening and cocktail gowns. Her brand debuted its Blanc collection at New York Fashion Week in 2017, propelling Mety’s designs into popular culture.
Since then her garments have been spotted on the likes of Gwen Stefani, Gigi Hadid and YouTube sensation Desi Perkins, who wore Mety’s Lillie Glittered Rose Gold Gown at the Golden Globes in January.
See also: Fashion Insider: Katie Lyall Of Chaos
38/40 Dian Pelangi, Indonesia
This 28-year-old influencer has more than four million Instagram followers and a successful line of chic, modest womenswear. The founder and creative director of her eponymous brand, Dian is famous for her fashionable interpretations of the hijab.
She graduated from ESMOD Jakarta, a leading fashion and business school, when she was just 18 and held her debut show during Jakarta Fashion Week. Dubbed a pioneer among local Muslim designers, Dian was included in the arts category of last year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list.
39/40 Peggy Hartanto, Indonesia
Peggy is the creative force behind her eponymous high-end ready-to-wear label. She studied at Raffles College of Design and Commerce in Sydney before joining the team at Australian couturier Collette Dinnigan. Peggy returned to Indonesia and started her own brand in 2012.
Since then she has won numerous accolades, including the Harper’s Bazaar Asia New Generation Fashion Designer Award in 2013. Peggy was named in the arts category of Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia class of 2016, and was nominated for last year’s International Woolmark Prize Asia.
40/40 Monica Ivena, Indonesia
Khloé Kardashian and Tracee Ellis Ross are just two of the many high-profile disciples of Monica’s feminine fairy-tale creations. The designer, who favours whimsical fabrics like Chantilly lace, shantung and tulle, burst onto the scene in 2016 with Wonderland, a collection of evening and cocktail gowns that earned her praise from tastemakers around the world.
Monica’s garments are firm red-carpet favourites with Indonesian A-listers, including Chelsea Olivia, Raisa Andriana, Nabila Syakieb and Andien Aisyah.
See also: Crazy Rich Fashion: 13 Asian Designers Who Are Doing Us Proud