“Is it a home? Or an art gallery?”–those are my exact thoughts as Lim Wei-Ling gives me a tour of her stylish residence, beautifully decorated with masterpieces by celebrated Malaysia and international artists. “That one over there, Balloon Venus, is an original by Jeff Koons,” the gallery owner and curator says casually, pointing out the artwork by the American pop culture artist. Another standout in her living room is contemporary artist Ivan Lam’s Everything I’ve ever known, I’m giving it back to you, a large diptych that commands the space. It is clear that art is her true calling, the way her innate passion and unquestionable enthusiasm shine through as we touch on the subject matter. “I launched the art gallery at the age of 30, and at the time I had limited experience within the field. However, I was guided by my strong intuition and love for art,” she reminisces. “I wanted to provide a platform to promote artists and support and nurture their careers, and at the same time, find artists that people would be interested to invest in.”
In that regard, Wei-Ling admits that to a certain extent, she incorporates the way she views art into her personal style. “For instance, when I’m looking at a new artwork, it’s all about how everything comes together as a whole; from the materials to the style and the composition,” she explains. “Similarly, when I’m planning an outfit, it is all about making it come together, visually.”
Wei-Ling’s non-conformist approach sees her avoiding short-lived trends and opting for timeless and classic pieces instead. “When I was younger, I used to be more experimental in terms of my style, but nowadays, it’s all about finding stylish clothes that work for me,” Wei-Ling says, while wearing an iconic graphic wrap dress from Diane Von Furstenberg with power red Christian Louboutin heels. Style, to Wei-Ling, is about feeling comfortable in your own skin, and while she tends to err on the safer side, she still keeps an open mind when trying on new things. “There are times when I’ve tried a look that I thought might not suit me and I’ll be completely surprised when it does,” Wei-Ling confesses. “I would have never imagined myself to be wearing sneakers, but it is something that is working for me now.”
Like most women, her first memorable encounter with fashion involved her mother. “Growing up, I used to love watching her get ready–she is always so polished, and looking back now, I guess it has made an impact on how I present myself today,” Wei-Ling says. “I still have her dress that she handed to me from the ’60s, which I still wear today.”
Her relationship with the ’60s doesn’t end there. High on the list of style icons she admires is First Lady of Fashion Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. “From her iconic pillbox hats and matching suits to her signature oversized dark sunglasses, her style, elegance, and glamour transcend the test of time, and her legacy continues to live on.”
But when it comes to delivering high-glam, Wei-Ling names revered Lebanese fashion designer Zuhair Murad as one of her favourites for his skilled art of making women feel like goddesses in his creations. “Apart from his breathtaking designs, his impeccable attention to detail and his flawless understanding of the female form truly make him one of the best in the industry.”
Before I leave, Wei-Ling shares a thought-provoking video that’s close to her heart, featuring artist Marina Abramović’s silent performance The Artist is Present at MoMa, in which Abramović is reduced to tears when her long-time ex-lover Ulay made a surprise appearance, which led to an emotional reunion. Cue the waterworks. Have spent an afternoon immersed in conversations centred on art and musings about style, Wei-Ling leaves me pondering on the thrilling dynamics between fashion and art, both visual representations that can evoke deep emotions and intense feelings–all housed in her “living gallery”.
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