Designer Sue Wong turns her Malibu home into a liveable fashion plate. By Nicole Vecchiarelli
At the age of six, Sue Wong and her mother escapedÂ Communist China for life in Los Angeles with her father. It wasnÂ’t long after that Wong became fascinated by the fashion and style of Hollywood. At 19, she opened her own boutique and soon began to design under her own name. In 1985, she established the Sue Wong label that included daytime dresses, and later, evening wear. The Sue Wong collections are sold at specialty boutiques and major retailers throughout the US and the world. But it is her Malibu Beach home where she enjoys a respite from the busy world of fashion, as well as some time to stare out at the dolphins.
YouÂ’re just back from your home in Maui. How do you differentiate the beach living experience between Malibu and Hawaii? I moved to Malibu for the first time in 1976 and started going to Maui around then, too, so I have a long history with both places. I first went out to Malibu because I love being in natureÂ—being in a place that allows me a deeper connection to something that is larger than me. ThereÂ’s nothing more powerful than the force of the Pacific Ocean.
How often are you actually on the beach or in the water? I go for walks early in the morning, but I donÂ’t go in the ocean all that much.Â I have a pool. I just basically love walking on the sand at either sunrise or sunset, and thatÂ’s really a beautiful experience for me.
How does spending time near the ocean inspire your designs? The light is really inspiringÂ—the ocean, the beach, and nature bring in an unfiltered light that is magical. I find the lighting to be truly different fromÂ the city. That beauty is what I try to express and manifest through my work.
YouÂ’ve had this home since 1983. What was the process of designing it like? The house was already built and it was probably the ugliest house I had ever seen! It was really Southwestern in attitude. It was very rude and crude. There were only three redeeming features: the high ceilings, the stone floors, and the big wide public rooms.Â I gutted the whole thing and teamed up with my best friend, Paul Hinckley. He did the architecture on the interior and I did the dÃ©cor.
Did you have a history of decorating your own homes before this one? IÂ’ve designed every interior that I have ever lived in. I have three homes, and I call them body, mind, and spirit. The Malibu home is the mental sphere because itÂ’s more modernistic, as opposed to Hawaii, which has a more spiritual feel.
Is this a house where you often entertain your friends? No, typically itÂ’s just me and my 180-degree water and white sand view. ItÂ’s really beautiful just to see the surf rolling directly at you. I can lie in bed and have dolphins leap over my toe, for instance. ItÂ’s magnificent.
Wong purchased the 4,500-square-foot Malibu home in 1983. It features four bedrooms and four bathrooms on 1.33 acres of waterfront. The home is decorated with furnitureÂ designed by Wong and contemporary art from many of her friends.