Fashion Buyer Kitty Wong changed career direction and her whole world transformed.
From globe-trotting for Gucci to owning Sydney art gallery Saint Cloche, Kitty Wong took a big bold step and says it paid off.
What was your job before venturing into the art world?
A fashionista’s dream job, I started working in the luxury fashion business in my mid-20s. Working for Gucci was amazing - a truly unforgettable experience. I had an excuse to dress in head-to-toe luxury and trot across the globe multiple times a year. I had the opportunity to view forthcoming trends before anyone else and select only the best for our market. When we congregated in Europe on buying trips and at conferences, I had the opportunity to meet and work with most interesting people locally and from all over the world. Gucci is a brand that is steeped in history. One can’t help but be swept away by the brand's iconic status made famous by the Gucci family; royalty, glamorous celebrities from a bygone era and the ‘rock star’ status with the creative directors that helmed it including Tom Ford, Frida Giannini, now Alessandro Michele.
But working for such a large conglomerate wasn’t just about the glamour and the jet set lifestyle. It was extremely hard work, it involved working long hours, many late nights analysing, strategising, reporting, meeting deadlines and there was constant communication with international management, the team within your region and of course your local team. My Blackberry was glued to my hand. It was an exciting time in my life, I loved it all and worked there for almost a decade.
Why did you choose to leave fashion for art?
I left to pursue my passion for creativity and entrepreneurial flair.
In what way was your previous job different to the one you have now?
There is definitely a change in rhythm from working in a corporate environment to working in a gallery. There is less travel, which I sometimes miss, however I am enriched by the new collaborative experiences and of course the creative control I have with my own brand.
What is the meaning behind your gallery’s name - Saint Cloche?
Coming from a graphic and branding background, as well as Gucci, the logo was always going to be important. “Saint” has links to things that I love. The iconic fashion house of Saint Laurent is an all-time favourite. It also reminds me of fashionable Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, with its history of high-jinks and lofty thinking, the haunt of Picasso, Giacometti, Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. I love sitting at one of the cramped outdoor tables at the famous Café de Flore in Saint-Germain, sipping on French champagne with a Saint Laurent ‘Smoking’ jacket draped over my shoulders, people watching through dark sunglasses while listening to Jazz. This is my vision for Saint Cloche – to become a fashionable destination for the arts in beautiful Paddington. As for ‘cloche’, it is a well-recognised symbol in the presentation of a feast. The lid is lifted dramatically to reveal what lies beneath. The gallery is a cloche of sorts, encircled by large European steel framed windows, it displays a visual feast within.
Have you always loved and followed art?
Art was my first love. Ever since I could speak I wanted to draw, paint on walls, make things.
I started out as an artist, painted my way through school, then majored in illustration at University. For me it was a liberating form of expression, I always felt a sense of calm while painting or drawing then a sense of fulfilment when the artwork was complete.
What is the best thing about curating a collection?
Discovering new artists! I love putting new artists together in group shows and creating visual conversations about contemporary culture. The gallery walls are my canvas.
Do you still take an active interest in fashion?
Yes I do, it will always be part of my DNA. Because of my background in fashion, I probably have a different approach to curating exhibitions. I am always looking at the ever-changing trends in the fashion world for inspiration.
What is your advice to anyone looking to change careers?
Don’t forget your roots, use your existing skillset, and apply them to your new role.
How has this changing your job changed your life?
I get to spend more time with my family who mean the world to me.