Lifestyle

The Empress Dress: Leslie Lee, Designer for the Stars

Colour.

That’s the first thing you’ll notice when stepping into DanieLeslie, designer Leslie’s gown shop.

Colour everywhere. Bright hues of scarlet red and brilliant gold, with embroidery so intricate that one could stare at a sleeve for hours.

This is Leslie Lee’s work, made famous by the countless TV and media artists in Asia that adore his craftsmanship and his signature oriental flair. While he specializes in wedding dresses, Leslie’s gowns often grace the red carpet – shimmering magnificently under the spotlight to enhance the wearer’s glamour.

 

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Leslie and his partner, Daniel are both originally from Malaysia. They’ve won countless awards worldwide and now have stores across 13 regions in Malaysia. Their gowns can be found in both Asia and Europe, including Korea, Thailand and Japan.

DanieLeslie is the official costume designer in several years of Miss Chinese International Pageant Finals. They will be going to design costumes for Miss Hong Kong Pageant this year.

 

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It is not surprising to hear that this wedding dress shop is often used for filming by TVB.

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We get a few minutes with the busy entrepreneur.

Q: Why did you first decide to enter the Wedding Gown industry?

I love beautiful things. When I say beautiful, I mean anything that is utterly dazzling to the eyes. I enjoy the beauty of designing and arranging every tiny stitch on a wedding gown, which then add to the bride’s newly married shine. The sincere thank-you from my customers and professional awards that have been given to me are my greatest motivation.

I feel really happy when my customers look satisfied and confident in their gowns. The world needs more smiles! (Laughing)

 

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Q: What is the main source of inspiration for your design?

I am not consciously seeking for the inspiration of fashion design. Sometimes it is as simple as a nice piece of fabric. A conception of a new dress plan would then naturally pop up in my head. I pay a lot of attention to match the right fabric to design. For example, high quality silk imported from Korea, golden silk from Thailand, high class lace from France and crystal diamonds from Europe. Different types of materials can be used to produce gowns in various styles. There is a rule behind every design, but you may also make minor changes to stand out from others.

 

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My style is an eclectic mix of East and West – I love taking inspiration from beautiful ancient Chinese gowns that were worn by Empresses and nobility, then blending that with lace and European design touches.

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Apart from wedding gowns, DanieLeslie is also famous for their stage costumes and gorgeous evening dresses. Their dress and gowns are very popular among famous celebrities, such as Michelle Yim and Frances Yip.

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Q: How do balance the pressure from work and keep your artistic enthusiasm?

(Chuckles) Go home and sleep! It’s a new start the next day. I like to read in my leisure, especially funny and interesting stories. They help me relax.

 

Ever troubled by designer’s block?

It doesn’t worry me. If I ever feel blocked, I try to take it easy and relax. I call up my friends, hang out with them and enjoy a good laugh. I find that I’m much better inspired when I’m in a good mood. As an artist, I think it is crucial for our creative minds to stay happy!
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Q: You have successfully won positive comments from a lot of stars these years in Hong Kong. How did you manage to do this?

I think, it is due to how my customers recommend me to their friends, and it started going around in circles of friends. For example, Datuk Zongwei Li and me are good friends, he asked me to design his whole wedding ceremony. People who enjoyed the night then remember and recommend me to their other friends.

I like to make new friends and bring joy to them. For example, the actors and actresses in TVB series–Heart of Greed—like Louise Lee and Susanna Kwan, etc do take good care of me. I am really grateful for knowing them!” It is true. Michelle Yim greatly appreciated Leslie not long ago!

 

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Q: Can you share with us your most unforgettable wedding planning experience?

I have been at many weddings, from large ones like the Ice Wedding Ceremony of China’s famous skating representative, Shen Xue, to countless other smaller scale weddings.

But there is one I will not forget.

The groom was a man with a disability – he had one arm that was disfigured and scars all over one side of his face. I was told he did not speak much so one can only imagine what he had been through. However, on the day, he and his beautiful bride were glowing; he made a speech so touching that I cried. This. This was true love. It was beautiful. It showed me that no matter what, a genuine love for one’s other half was more beautiful than any gown.

 

Q: Can you tell us the change of wedding dress culture in different places these decades?

In the past, getting married in traditional Chinese wedding Qipao is Cantonese’s unique culture, but this trend is gradually spreading to the northern part of China. The trend of putting on wedding Qipao is popular throughout Southern and Northern China nowadays.

“In the past, only the Southern Chinese wears wedding Qipao, but more and more Northern Chinese starts to put on traditional wedding Qipao or modern Qipao. There are a lot of varieties of wedding Qipao even in Beijing, and other Northern areas.”

 

Q: What’s your advice to all future brides on choosing the right wedding gown?

Choosing the most suitable wedding gown is more important than choosing the most beautiful wedding gown. Wedding gowns that look perfect on models may not necessarily be suitable for ourselves. We have to consider our own styles. Of course, a happy smile is an indispensable charm.

A suitable wedding gown should not only be trendy and fashionable, but more importantly match our own style and the event menu. The event will be planned accordingly to suit the couple’s tastes; their personalities – it’s a celebration of their union, so every wedding is different. In the same way – the gown needs to compliment this celebration and match the event flow and design.

Very often, the brides like how wedding gowns look on brand models and they love how the models pose. Yet, they realize the wedding gowns look very different when they wear it themselves. That’s because fashion models do not represent a diverse range of women’s body shape at all. In fact, a bride should be comfortable with her own body figure and choose a wedding gown that can highlight her best features and present her character and personality best.

 

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DanieLeslie ‘s Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Danieleslie.hk/

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