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27 February 1968 |
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
|Education||Paris American Academy|
|Spouse(s)||Datin Mary Lourdes Chandran|
Dato' Bernard Chandran (born 27 February 1968) is a Malaysian fashion designer. His talents have earned him many faithful clients among Malaysia's elite most notably the Royal families of Malaysia and Brunei as well as two former Miss Universe. Due to this, Chandran used to be known as Malaysia's "Prince of Fashion", but is now being hailed as Malaysia's "King of Fashion".
Bernard Chandran was born to Mr. P Ramachandran and Mrs Chow Yook Lin. Bernard Chandran is of both Indian and Chinese parentage (commonly referred to as Chindian in Malaysia). He grew up in an average Malaysian family. His father wanted him to become an accountant and he almost followed this advice, before briefly considering being a tobacconist, "It's a good career!".
At aged 16, he had already decided he wanted to be a fashion designer and it was just a case of convincing his father. He initially studied fashion in a local fashion college known as International Fashion Training Centre (IFTC) in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
During his time at the college, he was known for his shyness backstage around the undressed models during his initial fashion shows at the local college. Given three months after graduation to prove himself, he arranged his debut solo show, taking the first steps on the road to becoming Malaysia's top designer. Bernard's father was won over and helped fund his son's further studies, with Bernard soon winning a place at the prestigious Paris Fashion School in Paris, France.
In 1991, he decided to join the 'Open European Contest for Look of the Year 2000'. Chandran won and broke the record of being the first non-European to win the coveted title. "The contest was gruelling," grinned Bernard. "I am so happy to be the first non-white winner as it proves that Asians are as good as anyone else". For his pains, Chandran received a camera, 19 000 francs, and publicity and contacts which opened doors.
Lolita Lempicka offered him a job on the spot, which was flattering but he felt it was still too early. "I want to be completely well-versed in my craft before joining a top house because their expectations are high and by then you are not allowed room to make mistakes." quipped Chandran.
Chandran is only too aware how important this was in starting his career. He opined that "Everyone must go to a fashion school to understand the basics of fashion. Not only to learn design, but the history of fashion too."
In the industry
After honing his skills overseas in Paris, he returned to Malaysia to set up his maiden shop in KL Plaza in 1993. The first 'Bernard Chandran' couture house was a small rented shop with a handful of staff in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. From there, he built up his client base amongst the who's who of Kuala Lumpur, ranging from the rich to royalty. He has now expanded his shop in KL Plaza to take up 4 shop lots and is nearly 300 square meters in area. He was voted Designer of the Year by the Malaysian International Fashion Awards in 2003.
Chandran has also started introducing Europe to his couture with a boutique in Knightsbridge, London.
His creations are drawn from Chinese, Malay, Indian and other eastern cultures. He regularly does shows around the world, although he does tailor his overseas ranges to be more daring than his range for Malaysia. Bernard believes in the importance of creativity, confidence and vision.
"My inspiration comes from my customers...how they move, how they talk, their attitudes, their lifestyles. When I first meet a new customer, I make her understand that I am here to make you look good," Chandran's favourite designers are Valentino "...for his femininity and finishing...", and Galliano who "...has a great spirit." He admires Hussein Chalayan for his works and how he dealt with his bankruptcy.
Celebrities in Bernard Chandran
Estelle notably wore an azure blue dress by the designer with exaggerated pointing hips to perform at the 2008 MTV European Music Awards. She also chose to wear two of his distinctive pieces (one on stage in a duet with Kanye West and one for the red carpet) to the 51st Grammy awards, where she went on to win her first Grammy.
He is married to one of his former models, Datin Mary Lourdes Chandran (a Malaysian of ethnic Indian origin). She is a former International model and was one of the most successful Malaysian models in the 1980s. Together they have five children.
Dato' Chandran is intensely proud of his Indian ancestry and heritage. His home has many portraits of him and his family regaled in extravagant historical Indian garbs.
Chandran is firm about not spoiling his kids. That means no branded clothes or flippant purchases, so they would learn the value of money. He starts his mornings by offering puja (prayers), together with the family. It's a daily discipline that he wants his children to embrace, so they will grow up with a strong set of values and a sense of duty. Chandran wants his children to be grounded in Hindu faith.
- He became the first Malaysian to win the 'Open European Contest for Look of the Year 2000' in 1991.
- He was voted Designer of the Year by the Malaysian International Fashion Awards in 2003.
- He received his honorific, Dato', in 2006 when he was awarded the Dato' Indera Mahkota Pahang (DIMP) by the Sultan Ahmad Shah Sultan Abu Bakar, the Sultan of Pahang, Malaysia.
- Chandran was awarded Malaysian International Fashion Alliance's [MIFA] Special Achievement Award 2009.
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