UCL’s Fashion Bloggers: Andrea Cheong
The Tab meets the girl behind The Haute Heel
We’ve all heard of UCL alumnus Susie Bubble who has been making waves in the fashion blogosphere for years now, so how about taking a look at some of the current UCL student bloggers leading the fashion pack on campus? The Tab’s first instalment brings you 21 year old Andrea Cheong.
Singapore-born but London-bred, Andrea Cheong of The Haute Heel is a final year History of Art student at UCL. Cheong launched her blog in August 2011 whilst holidaying in her native country citing her venture as a personal ‘portfolio’. Tab fashion editor, Emma Wong, sits down with the fashion maverick to talk about style, Singapore and South Molton Street.
Emma: Talk us through your outfit
Andrea: The shirt I’m wearing is monogrammed – it’s from Rugby Ralph Lauren where I worked. I love Oxford shirts and I think it’s nice that the initials are on the wrist rather than on the breast. I like to wear shirts with a bowtie. My jacket is from Zara – their jackets have an amazing fit and it’s hard to find clothes that fit me well. My jeans are from Rugby too – they’re really old but I wouldn’t want to throw them away because it’s so hard to find jeans that mould to your shape. They’re distressed now which I like because it shows the process of wearing it out. My cowboyish boots are from Supertrash. The problem is I’m a size 2 and these are size 3 so I have loads of insoles inside. It’s so hard to find shoes that fit me!! I’m also wearing new earrings that my friend just gave me for my birthday – I love rhinestones.
Emma: Tell us a little bit about your job at Rugby Ralph Lauren. Does their concept suit your personal style or fit in with your aesthetic? How do you feel about the discontinuation of the line?
Andrea: Yeah, it was a very chilled job. I know the brand was really popular in Japan and I thought we were doing well. We had such a loyal customer base. People would come in and we’d recognise their faces, they’d remember your name and you really bonded with your customers. Menswear was doing fantastically well because having something like chinos doesn’t necessarily make you preppy.
Emma: So do you think that people, especially girls, have an issue with looking stereotypically ‘too preppy’ and that perhaps the look is no longer popular?
Andrea: Well I like that look; it is a stereotype but it’s not done enough and it’s not done well. People think that it means wearing Abercrombie and Jack Wills, which are admirable as brand concepts – their products aren’t exactly bad but it’s just the reputation that is associated with them. They are not preppy.
Emma: What are your sources of inspiration and who are your style icons?
Andrea: They always change; Olivia Palermo is amazing but I don’t really have a particular style icon as such. For inspiration I’ll think of a certain look I have in mind or a place I want to go to. I dress by association and I ask myself: what would I like to be seen wearing? I like it when there’s an element of surprise to what I’m wearing, a surprise to my look.
Emma: Does your Singaporean heritage influence the way you dress?
Andrea: To be honest, I struggle to buy clothes in Singapore. Sometimes I find great pieces but most of the time it’s just novelty stuff. The good thing about Singapore, though, is that they have things before London does e.g. the galaxy print. I know Christopher Kane did it first, but before it really hit the high street and really caught on, it was already everywhere in Singapore. And those asymmetric skirts that are short at the front and long at the back, Singapore had them before I saw it anywhere here.
Emma: So Singapore it’s great for picking up trends?
Andrea: I honestly think it’s because of the geographical advantage of being so close to the manufacturers like China. It’s not because of superior taste or anything. I love Australian designers though. There is this great brand called Ellery and I also like Stylestalker and Lover. I love the hot weather in Asia but I can’t dress for it. So I always wear hot-pants. Everyone always asks why Singaporean girls wear such short shorts but Singaporean guys wear even smaller shorts! You can always spot a Singaporean student because even in the winter he’ll be wearing tiny gym shorts and flip-flops.
Emma: How do you organise your wardrobe and where do you like shopping?
Andrea: I hate dead stock in the sense that I hate having clothes in my wardrobe that I can’t see myself wearing in the near future. When I look at my wardrobe, I want to feel like I can wear any of the items in it today, right now. I don’t really have that sentimental attachment to my clothes so I have no problem getting rid of stuff. South Molton Street is the best place to shop – it has the cutest boutiques all on one street. Sandro or Maje doesn’t fit me that well, so I just admire from afar but I like their dresses a lot – so chic! They are both structured and shapeless, the French brands do casual luxury so well. I love vintage jewellery at Portobello Market. I don’t personally shop there for clothes – it’s fun to go and browse, but it’s also stressful and claustrophobic. However, there is this amazing jewellery brand there called Rochelle Shepherd – her designs are exactly like Annoushka who used to be my favourite jewellery designer. Shepherd sources the same stones from the same Afghan dealer so they have pretty much the same designs and inspiration; Shepherd’s is just a lot cheaper.
Emma: Why did you start your blog and what spurred you to get writing?
Andrea: I had been thinking about fashion blogging years before I actually started it but I didn’t understand the concept of it as I wasn’t exposed to that kind of culture. I decided to do it because I was in Singapore at the time and I just couldn’t get to sleep! If I don’t do anything creative, I can’t sleep; I have all these ideas in my head. So I decided I needed to start a blog and to channel my energy somewhere. I don’t feel the pressure to keep my page views up though, which is why I don’t take on advertisers. My blog isn’t about statistics or making money – it’s something I love doing and it’s personal. Also I wanted to work in the fashion industry and I don’t study fashion. The industry is a little elitist and they want 100% dedication so this was my way of showing that I was interested.
Emma: Would you consider going into fashion journalism or full time editorial work after graduation this year? What about the art world?
Andrea: I would still love to work in fashion but I think my emphasis now is more on lifestyle and branding. I did want to go into fashion journalism for a very long time and it’s the career I saw myself doing when I was younger, but progression is important to me and I know that progression in fashion journalism is very difficult. Obviously if an offer came along I’d never turn it down! I actually just got an internship at my favourite commercial gallery though – The Opera Gallery on New Bond Street. They have lots of postmodern and contemporary work like Mauro Corda, Anish Kapoor, Banksy.
Emma: You obviously enjoy blogging but how to you juggle keeping it up to date with academic work and this new internship? Does it ever become a chore?
Andrea: I just started my internship which is three days a week, and I have a 10,000 word dissertation to write, I have so much to handle but it’s going to be worth it. Oddly enough, I get stressed out when I have nothing to do and I feel safer when I know I’m doing too much. I’m quite disciplined and self-motivated. But saying that, I haven’t actually posted that much on my blog recently.
Emma: And finally, what are your favourite hobbies apart from blogging?
Andrea: I like painting portraits, DIY with my friend Caroline – we’re both pretty domestic, cooking and running to relieve stress!
Three favourite designers? Valentino, Elie Saab, Erdem
Three favourite artists? John William Waterhouse, Titian, Gericault
Favourite London gallery? The Wallace Collection
Favourite fashion week? Paris for the collections, Milan for the street style
If you could have the wardrobe of any woman in the world, past or present, whose would it be? Suzanne Rogers
Singapore or London? London
Rembrandt or Rothko? Rembrandt
Fact or fiction? Fiction
Twitter or Tumblr? Tumblr
Ipad or pencil? Ipad