Asia’s Most Stylish: The Top 8 Female Fashion Icons
The word style can describe flair and grace, a confident demeanour, a fuss-free attitude to fashion, innate elegance, a penchant for trend-setting, a skill for breaking tradition, or the ability to set a unique personal standard…
It was with such factors in mind that the editorial teams of Asia’s eight Tatler titles set about selecting their region’s most stylish woman. As in previous years, the eight icons chosen 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.
1/8 Hong Kong: Adrienne Hui
Tatler 500 lister Adrienne Hui is delightfully direct and straightforward when discussing matters of style. Even in cut-off denim shorts and a plain blouse, she looks amazing, but it’s this blasé attitude that makes you instantly covet anything she’s wearing and yearn to peek into her closet (she has two)—because chances are it’s the stuff fashion dreams are made of. Cool without trying is, after all, the secret recipe for real panache.
“I’ve never really been asked to think about it, but if I had to define it, I would say style is unique to each and every person. It’s an expression of your personality and it’s about being true to yourself, being honest about who you are.” For Adrienne, that translates to a bold character, a captivating sassiness and an unapologetically carefree approach to dressing.
See also: Go Inside Adrienne Hui's Closet (video)
Spot her at any of the many events she attends—the former private banker and mother of two, who’s married to businessman Justin Hui, is a regular on Hong Kong’s social scene—and chances are she’ll be sporting laid-back-but-so-on-point outfits that exude body confidence and a killer fashion sense.
Such poise, the style maven confesses, has mostly come with age. “Entering my 30s really shifted the way I think and feel as a woman. And it’s only gotten better with time,” says the 39-year-old. “I no longer care about what people might think. I’m not intimidated. I’m simply myself. It’s liberating, really.”
Photography: Jason Capobianco | Styling: Justine Lee | Hair: Dickey Blue | Make-up: Megumi Sekine | Location: Aqua Luna | Stylist's assistant: Rosana Lai
2/8 Taiwan: Crystal Mu
If there’s a maxim Crystal Mu swears by, it’s that “Cashmere just makes everything better.” The 38-year-old Taiwanese beauty moved to Vancouver, Canada, in her early twenties to study English at the University of British Columbia and had to get used to sub-zero temperatures.
In 1999, Crystal won the Miss Chinese Vancouver Pageant, the annual beauty competition organised by Canadian-Cantonese broadcast channel Fairchild TV to select the city’s representative for the Hong Kong-based Miss Chinese International Pageant. She was second runner-up in the latter and has been in the limelight ever since. She has hosted TV shows and modelled, become a regular fixture on Taipei’s social scene, and is one of Taiwan’s most admired public figures for her fashion savvy.
Besides her public role, in recent years Crystal has reinvented herself as an author, publishing two best-selling books: Toffy’s Diary, about her pet, and a short stories collection, Those Who Have Seen Love, the rights of which have been purchased by a Taiwanese TV network for a future series. Crystal is also an active champion of animal rights.
Photography: Kenny Yang | Styling: Camille Chang | Hair and make-up: Janet at Four Hair; Chia Wen Liu
See also: 10 Most Stylish Women in Taiwan
3/8 Indonesia: Fatimah Syahrini Jaelani
Whether she’s starring in one of her music videos, hosting a TV show or taking a selfie to share with her 19 million Instagram followers, Syahrini’s hair is always coiffed, her make-up unfailingly flawless and her outfits consistently bold and branded.
Since she exploded onto the national stage in 2008 with her first solo album, My Lovely, Syahrini has released 13 singles, starred in three films and hosted her own reality TV show, Princess Syahrini. Like Kim Kardashian, Syahrini’s outfits are often figure-hugging, sophisticated and finished off with luxurious faux fur coats and oversized sunglasses.
She’s particularly fond of oversized diamond rings, striking diamond necklaces and sparkling tiaras. So perhaps it’s not surprising that when she’s asked to give a piece of style advice, she simply says, “Always wear diamonds.” But beneath Syahrini’s outfits and dazzling jewellery is a heart of gold.
Photography: Raja Siregar | Styling: Adi Surantha | Hair and make-up: Anda Lestari; Archangela Chelsea | Location: Tugu Kunstkring Paleis
4/8 Singapore: Karen Ong-Tan
The statuesque Karen Ong-Tan was inducted into Singapore Tatler’s Fashion Hall of Fame in 2016, and picked as its 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.
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 and married to Samuel Tan, who she affectionately refers to as her life captain. She credits her five-year-old daughter, Kara—who accompanies her everywhere dressed in equally stylish and complementary outfits—as her biggest inspiration in life and style.
Photography: Darren Gabriel Leow | Styling: Desmond Lim | Hair and make-up: Grego/Indigo Artisans
See also: 10 Best-Dressed Women In Singapore
5/8 Thailand: Orawan Setabandhu
Fashionista, entrepreneur, designer, wife and mother of two young boys: Orawan Setabandhu is one busy woman. The petite Thai beauty is the owner and mastermind behind Olivia Diamonds, one of the first jewellery brands in the country to present cutting-edge designs focusing on coloured stones and sculptural shapes. A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Orawan has a great deal of panache, which she shows not only in her bright gem creations but also through her sartorial choices.
Favouring classic over trendy, Orawan’s look is simple, understated elegance. Her favourite designers are Balenciaga and Alber Elbaz, although her wardrobe would not be complete without Chanel tweed jackets. “Effortless” is the way she describes her style, and from a glimpse at her up-to-the-minute, always on-point outfits, we can only agree.
Photography: Tada Varich | Styling: Daneenart Burakasikorn | Hair and make-up: Dechachai Kerdphol; Sukhon Srimarattanakul | Location: Tha Maharaj
See also: 10 Best-Dressed Women In Thailand
6/8 Malaysia: Nadia Nasimuddin
The youngest daughter of the late SM Nasimuddin SM Amin, one of Malaysia’s most successful tycoons, Nadia Nasimuddin fell in love with fashion the moment her father gave her her first Prada bag at the age of 12. Since then, she’s become a regular at New York, Paris and London Fashion Weeks, and developed a style that’s both minimalist and classic with a remarkable collection of couture pieces spanning Chanel, “anything from Raf Simons,” Tom Ford and Victoria Beckham.
With her three older brothers and one older sister, she continues her father’s legacy as director of the family’s hospitality and food and beverage companies. She has also steadily nurtured her own entrepreneurial ambitions: Nadia is the creative director of Portluxe, a digital platform for buying and selling authentic branded pre-owned luxury fashion items. What’s more, she and her sister co-founded MySmink, a portal purveying local beauty brands.
“I think entrepreneurship runs in my DNA,” she laughs. When she isn’t running two start-ups or jet-setting around the world for fashion shows and business meetings, Nadia spends time at home with husband Hamzah Alang—of the Holiday Villa Hotels & Resorts empire—and their two young children.
Photography: Aaron Lee/Lenswork Production | Styling: Andrea Kee | Hair and make-up: Angeline Law; Irena Adam using La Mer | Location: The Majestic Malacca Hotel
See also: 10 Best-Dressed Women In Malaysia
7/8 Mainland China: Wendy Yu
To Wendy Yu, style is about individuality. “Whether it’s a dress or a pair of shoes, make it your own,” the young fashion maverick says, “and really have the confidence to be yourself.” Sensible words. At 27, the daughter of Mengtian Group founder Jingyuan Yu developed a penchant for couture while attending boarding school in the UK, and later honed it by studying fashion management at the London College of Fashion and interning at Vogue China.
Her acquaintance with the sector’s upper echelons both as a student and young professional spurred her to launch in 2015 her own endeavour, venture capital company Yu Capital, to support high-potential, high-growth fashion, lifestyle and technology enterprises. Over the past two years, the company has invested in the likes of fashion brand Mary Katrantzou and Tujia, the Chinese equivalent of Airbnb, and granted Wendy plenty of visibility in the industry.
A patron of the arts, Wendy is a founding member of the V&A Museum Young Patrons’ Circle and a supporter of cultural organisations such as the British Museum, the Design Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, and her philanthropic interests include amfAR, the Naked Heart Foundation and the British Fashion Trust.
Photography: Li Haiyan | Styling: Teresa Tsai | Hair and make-up: Da Bao | Location: Yihe Mansions
8/8 Philippines: Elvira Angara
Known simply as “Tootsy,” Elvira Angara has been dazzling Philippine society for quite some time. She’s always one of the best-dressed women at any high-profile event, often showcasing beautifully elegant outfits from local designers, who she fervently supports. “Style is an extension of one’s personality and taste,” she says. “Filipino is how I would describe mine.”
Married to Senator Sonny Angara, with whom she has three children, Tootsy handles the entertainment, sport and cable sales for the ABS-CBN television network, juggling a brilliant executive career with the demands of being a politician’s wife. She does so with remarkable ease and a constant air of sophistication—always pairing her stunning couture gowns and impeccable accessories with a courteous smile. Her poise, figure and beauty, and her gracious, generous demeanour never fail to enchant.
Photography: Sara Black | Styling: Monique Madsen | Hair and make-up: Ryan Medrano; Patrick Rosas | Location: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
See also: 10 Stylish Filipina Fashionistas To Know