My Day At Dior | Wendy Yu On Buying Couture And Being A Billionaire | InStyle UK
Wendy Yu talks to us about why and how she collects couture
She’s got Dior and Valli on speed-dial and her clothes need their own suite
Couture clients don’t usually talk, but Marie Claire’s Jess Wood was invited into the unique world of businesswoman and fashion uber-fan, Wendy Yu
‘Packing List PDF’. It might sound like something you’d receive from a removals company on the eve of a big move. But if you’re the personal assistant for Wendy Yu, this spreadsheet of photographs is your permanent companion. It runs to four pages, and is checked and updated several times a day. The items documented aren’t china and white goods – they’re Dior ‘Lady’ bags and tulle Giambattista Valli dresses.
Wendy Yu takes, on average, four trips a month, shuttling back and forth between homes in China, her base in London’s Knightsbridge and five-star European hotels. Each time she travels, six Rimowa cases come with her – along with two assistants, who spend their days keeping track of new purchases, delivery slots and flatlay outfit pictures via WhatsApp.
Wendy Yu has over a million followers on Chinese social platforms WeChat and Weibo, but ‘influencer’ is not what she’d put under ‘occupation’. Buying, wearing and collecting designer fashion is her hobby. Her day job, as the CEO of her own investment fund, is much more prosaic. The Wendy Yu Capital’s investment portfolio includes Didi, China’s answer to Uber, and Tuija, a luxury home-rental platform along the lines of Airbnb. She’s also the co-chair of the family business started by her father – now the largest wooden door manufacturer in Asia. The childhood winner of multiple maths prizes, she grew up in China, but attended an English boarding school.
We meet in Paris, where she’s attending Couture Fashion Week. The world of couture clients and the VVIP customers who keep fashion brands in the black is a notoriously secret one. Couture Fashion Week might be buzzier than a hornet’s nest now, with influencers and A-listers from around the globe descending on Paris in a storm of selfies, but how many of them can actually buy these clothes? Not many. The serious spenders – the octogenarian American socialites and Middle Eastern clientele – don’t generally want to talk about it, which is why 27-year-old Wendy Yu is a breath of fresh air. She’s becoming a high-profile figure on the London arts and fashion scene – a founding member of the V&A’s Young Patron’s Circle, she co-hosted this year’s launch of the Fashion Forum, a British Fashion Council initiative, as well as providing more practical support to designers in the form of actual orders. ‘I see myself as a philanthropist in fashion. I want to support amazing emerging talent,’ she says. In her unofficial fashion-patron role, she’s agreed to talk to me about the process. And, of course, what I want to know is: what’s it like to spend the price of a small property on one dress?
‘It is an expensive hobby, but I see it as a “passion investment”,’ she tells me when we meet at her Paris hotel (she favours the George V for their exemplary dim sum). ‘Some people collect art, which I also love – but fashion is a space where not many people are collecting.’ She did, in fact, study fashion management in London after school, and one of her dreams is to open her own fashion museum. ‘For now, I’m focusing on my business.
Video: Yu Huiyeol's Sketchbook - Eric Nam, Wendy(Red Velvet), Jung Dongha, Vromance, etc [ENG/2018.04.28]
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