Friday June 22, 2012
Gabrielle Tan, who is often more affectionately known as Gabby, is the eldest daughter of co-founder and group managing director of IGB Corp Berhad, Robert Tan. In case you didn't know, this is of course, the company that owns The Gardens Mall, one of the most prominent shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur.
The eldest in a family of two girls (younger sister Elizabeth is also in the family business), she had a rather challenging task on her plate - one that she has handled with skill and efficiency since being appointed Director of Marketing for Mid Valley City Sdn Bhd in 2007. Having now proven herself not only to her father and colleagues as well as to the rest of the industry that she was indeed capable of the responsibility that had been entrusted upon her, she allows us a glimpse at her personal side.
Fun, quirky and bubbly, Gabby graduated with a degree in Business Economics from the University of Exeter in Britain. Having always been one for the creative side of life, Gabby returned to school to complete a second degree in Fashion Design and Marketing from the University of AIU (American InterContinental University) in London. This was after having worked in retail for a year, making it clear that she was the perfect choice for the creative role she has ensconced herself in for the past five years.
"My late grandfather and father taught me to always trust my gut instinct. And so I did," she says. The two men have been her largest influence. So what are some of the challenges of the job?
"Constantly having to come up with different or unique ideas that can be materialised out into events or even campaigns that will have people excited and inspired. Fortunately, it is that very role that is also the really fun part of my nine to five. I'm lucky to be working with a team that has the same vision as I do," she says on her work philosophy.
Her stylish side was apparent during the shoot although one would not have guessed that Gabby harboured an old soul for her sense of style. She was the picture of modern casual chic in a dark grey dress cinched at the waist with a black belt, black ballet flats and a chili red Louis Vuitton handbag completing the look.
"Everything I wear is a part of my personality. More often than not, it would be a dress that has huge influences from the 50s right up to the 70s, but right now, this is my version of office chic," explains the 32-year-old with a smile.
With her second degree, it doesn't take a genius to realise that the vintage fashionista has fashion-related ambitions as she confesses that she dreams of becoming a fashion designer, as well as someone who is able to develop a space for other up and coming fashion designers to develop and create their craft.
"I'm not certain as to when I will take that leap and completely change my course in life but I do know that building confidence only comes with experiencing the things you are most afraid of and so, I do know I will brave it out one day."
Having stepped out in her first outfit change which was a flouncy mid-calf length skirt complete with a high neck top with sleeves, Gabby says that she has adopted a more demure look of late.
"I got to experiment with so many looks while I studied in the UK. It was really freeing as I could go crazy and no one over there gave me a second look! It was through my experimentation that I found I was most comfortable in vintage clothing. I didn't feel like I was too far off the mark either in terms of being stylish today as a lot of current fashion has borrowed much inspiration from those previous eras."
As it's quite a niche fashion preference, Gabby discloses that it is tough shopping for her preferred vintage look in Malaysia and adds that she doesn't often shop at her home ground, The Gardens Mall.
"Don't get me wrong. Although I do now shop retail, the brands I frequent are usually quirky. They are all about comfort and conventionally styled items that have a hidden twist that really, only I will know. And that pleases me. Bimba & Lola, BCBG, Gap and CK Calvin Klein are among my favourite fashion haunts. However, nothing can replace my favourite little vintage store located in Covent Garden in London."
Also a fan of the 50s pin-up look, Gabby shares that as a movie buff, movies have also become her source of style inspiration.
"I love old black and white movies and even the new period movies as their dress sense sometimes sparks the formation of looks in my mind. My mum's influence however, although she dressed great, stopped when I reached the age of 10," she said laughing.
"Watching her on screen and off, I really would love to raid Charlize Theron's closet as she is able to work a feminine look to perfection and is able to amp up rock chic too. I would also love to have a pick at some of Sarah Jessica Parker's clothes too. As a New Yorker herself, she too, loves vintage clothing. My final closet raidee would be Mariah Carey's closet and yes, although that may sound strange and she does not do vintage, I just want to experience its sheer size. I saw a video of it once and it looks like a store!"
When it comes to fashion no-nos, she divulges her fashion mantra is to never don hot pants: "I know they were fashionable when they first came out back in the day but honestly, there really is no need for them now."
As to what lies ahead in terms of work for the fashionable career woman, Gabby says, "Next year, revamping is key as popular events need to have new life breathed into them. Apart from that, there will be more evidence of my tapping into our creative boundaries as my team and I take more risks with our campaigns."