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10th April 2016 / Insiders Share / by Chia Sihan

Celebrity stylist C.K. Koo shares his 7 styling wins

C.K.'s travel photos taken in Italy

There are some names in Singapore’s fashion circles that simply leave an indelible mark in the industry by being individualistic and right on point.

Freelance stylist C.K. Koo, whose knack for putting together timeless photo spreads of fashion, gourmet and other visually arresting concoctions, has made him the choice stylist for many editors to work with.

When asked what he thought were the top traits of a successful stylist, the veteran, who recently worked with publications including Savour, Nuyou and Gourmet & Travel by Peak and more, replies with a gentle smile, “I’m not sure, I’m still not a fully successful stylist”.

The soft-spoken stylist his thoughts what it takes to kick-start a career in the fashion industry.

#1 – A career in fashion can start anywhere

C.K.: I never had any formal education in fashion styling or design. My love for design led me to study design and advertising. My first job was as a graphic designer with a magazine, before I ventured to explore other areas of visual design, such as styling.

#2 – When you’re starting out, focus on building your portfolio before becoming selective

C.K.: If you’re a newbie, don’t think about picking jobs. Just do as much as you can to build your foundation, and gain the experience and skills that you will need throughout your career.

#3 – Inspiration can come from anywhere, as long as you’re looking

C.K.: I get inspired from life – from travel, from people I meet, from books I read, from magazines, from movies.

#4 – A good stylist always pays attention

C.K.: For anyone looking to break into a styling career, one key trait is to be sensitive to what’s around you. I find travelling a great way to reignite that natural sensitivity towards the environment, as the new faces, places, sights and sounds provide a refreshing change to what you would be accustomed to at home.

#5 – Don’t be afraid to do something completely different 

C.K.: After a few years of working as a stylist, I found myself reaching a bottleneck of doing similar stuff. It was then I decided to take a break from fashion to explore a totally different industry, which was the food and beverage business. It was a great experience which also helped to change how I see things in life –  through discovering my passion for doing something different.

#6 – You don’t need attend fashion school to be working in fashion

C.K.: Although my interest is in fashion, I didn’t pursue it through formal education but studied design and advertising instead. I find it is somehow related to fashion, in terms of design being a study in aesthetics and learning how to make ordinary things look beautiful.

#7 – It’s not easy but you’ll have experiences of a lifetime

C.K.: The first time I travelled to Italy was with a local men fashion’s magazine for a photo shoot. There was a lot of preparation and coordination before and throughout the trip, but the trip was such a great eye-opener. I still feel inspired whenever I think about what I saw and experienced in Rome for the very first time.

Photos in Marie Claire (MY) fashion spread: Ivanho Harlim
Make up: The Make Up Room
Hair: Calvin Gan
Photos of MR magazine Hong Kong men’s fashion spread: Daniel Goh
Travel photos: C.K. Koo
Marie Claire Malaysia

About the Writer

Chia Sihan

A story junkie by nature, this TFCS scribe thrives on uncovering the backstories of her interview subjects, whether they are heads of corporations or a working Mum caring for a child with a developmental disorder. She finds it a privilege to be privy to these personal experiences. Some of the publications she has written for include the Singapore Women’s Weekly, L’Officiel Singapore, and Harper’s Bazaar Junior. It is this genuine love for storytelling and collaboration that led her to kickstart her journey as a co-founder of The Fashion Collective Singapore. Now the chief storyteller at TFCS, she is particularly inspired by the personal journeys of TFCS Mentors, not to mention their dedication towards the refinement of their craft.

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