It was a lovely sunny Wednesday morning when I arrived for my appointment. Before I even got near the red front door, Datuk Gordon Leong opened it wearing a big smile to welcome me.
He ushered me in, immediately and almost audibly a gasp of delight escaped me at the sight before me. In the romantic ambiance created by soft lighting, the bohemian paradise that I found myself in exhibited unabashedly Datuk Gordon’s unconventional decorating style that oozes unique personality and individuality. Walls painted in bold hues, eye-catching gothic chandeliers, ornate gold mirrors, antique furniture and an oasis of treasures collected from near and far, modern and vintage, and eclectic and modest dotted around the Boho-chic apartment.
The exploration of my fascinating surrounding was disrupted by the arrival of Lorena Binisol, the reporter of a local newspaper who initiated the interview with Datuk Gordon and gave me the privilege to be a part of this exclusive interview.
Datuk Gordon Leong (Datuk, short form Dtk, is a title conferred to individuals by the head of state in Malaysia), is a larger than life personality well-known in our local community. He is a lawyer, bon vivant, wine connoisseur, culinarian, man-about-town and fashionister all rolled into one!
Seated comfortably in the plush sofa amidst heirloom urns and furniture, vintage and collectible tiffin boxes and abacuses, a collection of turtle and tortoise ornaments and exotic ostrich feathers, we began our much-anticipated chat.
Dtk Gordon disclosed that he is the eldest of 3 boys and the only one among them who had shown an immense interest in both antiques and fashion since he was young. He has a passion for collecting all things beautiful, loves musicals especially The Phantom of the Opera, which he has seen 14 times with 12 times in London and twice in Singapore, and takes to cooking to unwind.
“I enjoy good food, but the biggest problem is I don’t do much exercise!” he chuckled. Contrary to what I thought, Dtk Gordon said he was a better cook in Asian food than western. His interest in cooking even saw him making his way to Bangkok to take up a cooking course to perfect his skill in a few popular Thai dishes. “I might open a restaurant, but not here, maybe in London when I retire,” he shared.
“I love wine. I know what I like, I enjoy full-bodied French wine,” Dtk Gordon said. “Every bottle has a life and we need to feel it, drink it and enjoy it. There is life in a bottle!”
Dtk Gordon also loves to travel and has been doing so extensively over the years. Sometimes he travels for work but mostly for leisure. In recent years, he has been travelling more regionally to Indochina where he spent time in enjoying the local food, culture and ancient ruins. Travelling far and wide is also the main reason for the many interesting pieces of decorative items that have ended up in and made up his fabulous and free-spirited bohemian space. It is also through his travelling that he gets the opportunity to gratify his pursuit of fashion and style.
“I like to mix and match. I mix branded outfits with local brands, sometimes even the brandless ones.” Dtk Gordon said when asked about his personal style. “Branded goods can be affordable. You can find branded items at factory outlets, or pre-loved ones at vintage stores.”
When Dtk Gordon is invited to a social event, one will anticipate him to appear in the most stylish of ensemble with a pair of spectacularly styled show-stopping shoes. “I’ve always loved shoes ever since I was young,” said Dtk Gordon. “Men are lucky now as suits and ties are no longer the only fashionable items for men. There are party shoes for men.”
Dtk Gordon bought his first pair of Gucci shoes from Kuala Lumpur more than 20 years ago and that was the beginning of a long-term love-affair with luxury brands of footwear. His vast collection ranges from the essential casual and dress shoes to the daringly created party shoes that scream vogue! “I love Gucci, Louboutin and Dolce & Gabanna,” Dtk Gordon said. “Gucci are the shoes that I can wear daily where Louboutin are party shoes. Party shoes for men are the new black!”
Luxury designer footwear all come with a hefty price tag and to that, Dtk Gordon said laughingly, “I work hard for a pair of shoes!”
“Don’t be a fashion victim! Don’t follow blindly but find something that is suitable for you,” Dtk Gordon said almost without hesitation when asked what advice he would give to other fashionistas/fashionisters to-be. “I like to dress to look good because it exudes confidence. It is very important especially with me being a lawyer as people do judge a book by its cover. First impression really counts.”