just in this month

Spotlight on…

Self-Portrait

Han Chong’s contemporary feminine designs have already won a large A-list following. He tells The Style Report what inspires him to dress the modern woman.

Words by Jane McFarland.

Summer’s social calendar is a daunting prospect to say the least; yes, it guarantees many reunions with friends and family and soirées to remember (or forget, in the case of your 10th wedding reception running), but it also presents the problem of requiring multiple outfits for multiple occasions. Cue Self-Portrait, an emerging London-based brand, seducing today’s style set with its charming cocktail wear.

If the name doesn’t immediately ring any bells, the brand’s signature guipure lace dresses will quickly whet your appetite. Since launching in 2013, creative director Han Chong’s contemporary riff on occasionwear has gained traction with fashion editors and celebrities alike; if you measure a dress’s success by the number of compliments per wear or Facebook likes, consider your events wardrobe sorted. Using partly lined lace, hand-cut embroidery and sheer overlays, Chong cleverly marries frothy femininity with sleek silhouettes, meaning there’s a dress to suit both girlie girls and tomboys. Highlights include a sheer checked organza white dress (it conjures up visions of Brigitte Bardot in Saint Tropez) and the easily elegant Arabella midi dress in smoked lilac.

Due to Instagram et al recording our every sartorial move, the fear of being spotted in the same outfit twice has now surpassed the fear of wearing an identical dress to someone else, but thanks to the brand’s reasonable price points, purchasing a couple of options to see you through the summer isn’t completely implausible. And while you can’t underestimate the power of a good frock, the once-antiquated rules of event dressing are changing – Self-Portrait’s ever-expanding offering includes a tailored wide-leg jumpsuit (complete with sculpted peplum hem) and embroidered geometric mesh separates. The Style Report learns more from the man behind the brand.

Wearing a statement dress that looks great makes women feel confident and powerful – all positive attributes.

The Self-Portrait aesthetic

I’d sum up our DNA as feminine, detailed and contemporary romance. Most of the designs are rather detailed and with their layered textures and combinations of materials, these designs have multiple references to various time periods and styles. A lot of the dresses are very feminine, but in each collection you’ll find some more androgynous-looking pieces, too. Hopefully our creations encourage women who wear them to stand out rather than just blending in.’

Self-Portrait creative director, Han Chong

Starting out

‘I had dreamed about working in a creative business when I was kid, but I didn’t necessarily imagine that I would become a fashion designer. I have always loved the idea of visual creativity and after I graduated I worked for various fashion brands and key retailers, so it allowed me to have all the important skills and knowledge I needed to launch my own brand. I have realised throughout my career that there is a gap in the market for highly considered, contemporary-priced product and this was the inspiration behind creating my own company.’

The Self-Portrait woman

‘I like to think she is a modern, busy girl. All the pieces in the collection are versatile and can adapt to the modern woman’s busy lifestyle. The purposes of the pieces are to be transitional and compliment day-to-day lifestyles and suit whatever occasions may come up. When I design any collection, I always think about what the woman wants from her wardrobe and how she wants to feel in the clothes.’

A-list fans

‘I feel very privileged every time someone chooses to wear Self-Portrait. All of this is still relatively new to me and I find it totally amazing that more women continue to buy my designs. It’s great to see a variety of people wearing Self-Portrait – from a girl in the street to a celebrity; it makes me feel proud.’

Inspiration

‘I like to get out of the office for inspiration; I go to a lot of galleries and exhibitions and absorb everything around me. Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time, it can be a detail from a movie, or from seeing someone in the street mixing styles in a radical way, or by stuff that I read. Your visual memory then makes all these impressions into new patterns and suddenly ideas start to pop up.’

The power of a dress

‘I think all women secretly love to be noticed and feel loved. Wearing a statement dress that looks great makes women feel confident and powerful – all positive attributes. Clothing is all about feeling good when you wear something and expressing individuality.’