Singapore’s man about town Dick Lee on the Audi Fashion Festival

Singapore’s man about town Dick Lee on the Audi Fashion Festival

No PR answers please, we told singer-songwriter, show director and fashion plate Dick Lee. And he obliged. Here is his take on the festival, the industry and his colorful personal style

Dick LeeDick Lee: Never a dull dresser and never caught without a jacket. From writing songs to staging musicals to lighting up Orchard Road for Christmas, Dick Lee has done it all.

Dubbed Singapore’s "Mad Chinaman" after his album of the same name, and for his eclectic and flamboyant style, 54-year-old Lee now has another opportunity to flaunt himself -- as chairman of the Audi Fashion Festival Singapore 2011 (AFF).

Here, he reveals his style secrets, tips on how to dress for fashion week and the ultimate faux pas.

CNNGo: You’re quite the man about town and a prominent person in the entertainment and fashion world here. We have seen you in suits, party outfits, tees and even in a wayang costume. How would you describe your personal style?

Dick Lee: Stylish bordering on the eccentric -- animal and floral prints being my current obsession -- and individual whilst trying not to look ridiculous.

CNNGo: No matter what you wear you always look sharply put together. Would you mind letting us in on some of your style secrets ...

Lee: I plan my wardrobe a week in advance so there’s no room for a mis-matched pocket square. I also try to wear a jacket no matter what the weather as it completes the look -- sweat be damned.

CNNGo: Who has been the biggest influence on your personal style?

Lee: Edward VIII, who later became the Duke of Windsor after giving up the throne for the love of his life.

CNNGo: The AFF crowd is going to be a who’s who of Singapore society, who will be dressed to the nines. How should a mere mortal hold his or her own?

Lee: It’s important to dress for the occasion, look your best, but not to over-do it.

For the more daring and creative, I suppose the festival is also a platform to show off your ideas, but be considerate and don’t wear a hat so big that it blocks the view of those behind you.

Audi Fashion Festival 2011Steer clear of the headgear, keep it sleek and chic. CNNGo: Any advice for models walking the shows?

Lee: Try not to look as if you haven’t eaten all day (or week). And if you smile the clothes instantly look more appealing.

CNNGo: Describe your biggest fashion disaster.

Lee: One year at AFF, a special effect was feathers tumbling down from the sky to attach themselves semi-permanently to our hair and clothes.

I spent an hour in Ngee Ann City’s public toilet trying to remove as many feathers as I could and still ended up looking like Björk at the Academy Awards.

CNNGo: What are your thoughts about the Singapore fashion industry -- what can be done better to catch up with other countries like Japan, India and Thailand?

Lee: Those countries have a tradition of handicraft to draw upon, which has evolved into a manufacturing industry. They also have large markets to support their businesses, which allows designers to grow and mature.

The only way for a label to thrive here is to expand, and unfortunately that takes huge resources. Young designers tend to exist in a blinkered environment of their atelier and (small) struggling outlet, and need to network more to meet and hopefully attract investors, private and public.

The government, which has created funds to support SMEs and other budding creative prospectors, could perhaps take a look at the fashion industry to see how they can help, as fashion functions quite differently from other industries.

CNNGo: Finally, what will you be wearing on opening night?

Lee: I will be going local with a bespoke suit expertly tailored by Leslie Chia of Pimabs.

Audi Fashion Festival 2011

The Tent at Ngee Ann City
May 13- May 19, various times
Tickets from S$51-S$60 via SISTIC or

Elaine Ee writes about Singapore, the city she lives in, covering the arts, events, personalities and social issues. Her stories have appeared in Time Out SingaporeTatler HomesFood & Travel and Jetstar Asia. She’s also an editor at, a Singapore community-driven website run by socially conscious denizens. When she’s not at her laptop, she practises Bikram yoga, spends time with her three kids and makes it a point to keep trying something new. 

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