The table-tennis star trades her usual sneakers and T-shirts for high heels and high fashion
Huang Huifen


he public is used to seeing a sweaty Feng Tianwei smashing killer shots in her jersey top, shorts and spunky hairdo. But last week, the Olympic bronze medallist traded sportswear and sneakers for heels and high fashion as she underwent a makeover by Life!. Tottering in a pair of four-inch-high booties, the 26-year-old struck several poses for the camera. “I really like this kind of photos,” she says in Mandarin, referring to the edgy high-fashion photospreads that she has seen in magazines. Feng, who arrived for the shoot wearing a trucker hat – a type of baseball cap – a bright green T-shirt paired with grey slacks and sneakers, picked the outfit herself. She chose a sports-inspired off-white plonge leather jacket with a dramatic black martingale collar, and loose-fitting ankle-length trousers from luxury fashion label Celine’s latest fall/winter 2012 collection. Stylist Rohaizatul Azhar, a writer for The Straits Times’ Urban magazine, picked four outfits from the collection, including dresses and pant suits. They were chosen based on the conditions set by the Singapore Table Tennis Association for the style makeover: No lace, no frills, no pink and preferably no dresses. In the end, the China-born paddler, who is The Straits Times’ Star of the Month for August – an award that recognises outstanding sportsmen – chose the pant suit. “I do wear dresses but only on special occasions. My mum loves it when I wear them,” she says. But the public hardly gets a glimpse of that feminine side. She appeared in her jersey and track pants to receive The Straits Times award last Thursday; a blue blazer with black cropped trousers at the launch of a sporting-themed condominium in July; and a black jacket and jeans to collect her Sportswoman of the Year prize in 2010. The world No. 7 says she does not adopt her mother Liu Chunping’s feminine style. “She used to wear quite high heels and short skirts,” Feng says, putting her palms a few inches above her knees to indicate the hemline of her mother’s skirts. “My style is not suitable for

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PHOTOGRAPHER: Ashleigh Sim HAIR AND MAKE-UP: Andy Razali, using Make Up For Ever and Design Pulse by Matrix STYLING: Rohaizatul Azhar OUTFIT: Off-white plonge leather top with black martingale, $7,900, black technical double face Cady trousers with zip detail, $1,950, and ankle boots in nude nappa lambskin (price on request). All from Celine.

Feng Tianwei serves up glam
growing long hair or wearing gowns.” The 1.63m-tall paddler describes her style as casual and edgy with influences of Japanese street fashion. Her wardrobe consists of mainly harem pants, T-shirts and tops with embellishments such as studs, 10 to 20 caps in different colours, sneakers and sunglasses. She is tight-lipped about the most expensive item in her wardrobe, but reveals that the cheapest is a $15 watch bought from a pushcart in Toa Payoh. Like most women, she has a soft spot for shoes, caps and sunglasses. “I already have many of these but if I see a better one, I will buy,” she says. Her favourite shopping spots include Far East Plaza for its unique pieces, Tokyo’s Shibuya and South Korea’s dutyfree shops for beauty products such as facial masks. “The Koreans give a lot of discounts so I am more willing to visit the shops,” she says candidly. Up close, Feng’s skin looks smooth, even though on the day of the makeover, it flared up with little bumps, the result of a slight skin inflammation. “My skin is usually better than this,” she quips. But she insists she has no beauty secrets. “I do the same as everyone else. When I see that my skin has become very lousy, I put on a moisturising face mask. I don’t apply sunblock or wear make-up often,” she says. Instead, she wears caps and sunglasses to protect her skin from the sun. “I am the worst in the table-tennis team when it comes to beauty knowhow,” admits the Harbin native, who started playing table tennis at the age of five. Her dad Feng Qingzhi, a granary worker, died of multiple sclerosis in 2002 before he could see his only child make it to the China national squad. In 2005, Feng left China to play in a Japanese professional league and was talent-scouted by Singapore officials a year later. Today, her accolades include three Olympic medals – a team silver from Beijing 2008, a team and individual bronze from the recent London Games – and the triumphant win over China at the World Team Championships in 2010. Now, a challenge of a different sort lies ahead. Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing has been tasked with finding Feng, who says she has no time to date, a boyfriend. So what if her future boyfriend insists that she wears a dress? “I believe I would not find someone who does not understand me,” she says firmly. At the end of the two-hour makeover session, this reporter asked if Feng likes the look. “Yes, it is very fashionable. I like the brand Celine too,” she says. So will she wear the look again? “Yes,” she says without hesitation. “If you give me the Celine jacket,” she adds in jest.

Fun and tradition at London Fashion Week
London – Newcomers and established designers alike took audiences on flights of fancy on Day 2 of London Fashion Week last Saturday, which showcased an eclectic range of women’s wear from the elegant to the whimsical, the eminently wearable to structured works of art. Among the newcomers was China-born Huishan Zhang, 28, who graduated from London’s Central St Martins College only two years ago but whose first season collection has already been picked up by two retailers. Born in Qingdao in Shandong province, he delivered a sophisticated collection, impressing with his fresh take on traditional Chinese motifs. The tailored Chinese silk dress, the cheongsam, was updated with detachable, crystal-embellished collars, subtle prints and a refreshing palette of mint, sage, sea green and violet. Prints of sparrows, pagodas and mahjong tiles lent playfulness to the elegant clothes. Silhouettes were clean and unfussy, adorned sometimes with sheer, wispy capes. “He’s delivered clothes that are appropriate for all age groups – something that’s quite difficult to do for a young designer,” said Anne Tyrrell, a Londonbased design consultant. “He’s one to watch.” Also in London was Christopher Ciccone, the younger brother of pop star Madonna, who took a

Christopher Ciccone (above), Jasper Conran’s whimsical show (far left) and Huishan Zhang’s Orientalinspired creation (left). PHOTOS: ASSOCIATED PRESS, REUTERS
step outside of his famous sibling’s shadow last Friday as he launched his first shoe collection. Ciccone, 51, spun a modern twist on functional footwear, using rubber, leather and canvas to re-invent riding boots, boat shoes, brogues and sandals, using bold block hues,

geometric prints and strap details. The prices of the collection range from £39 (S$77) to just under £300. “It’s the art that follows the form (that) follows the function. I’m an artist, so everything that I create comes from that world,” he told Reuters, adding that he was inspired by the work of artists Georgia O’Keeffe, Mondrian and Delacroix. Madonna did not attend the launch but she was there in spirit as her latest hit song, Girl Gone Wild, played alongside other pop hits during Ciccone’s presentation at London’s trendy Strand Gallery. Meanwhile, spring was in the air at British designer Jasper Conran’s show, where walls were decorated with flower-shaped neon lights. Models walked barefoot on the lush green catwalk, in embellished denim, broderie anglais and sequinned dresses. The collection was influenced by all aspects of Americana, Conran, 52, son of pioneering homeware designer Terence Conran, said, citing Janis Joplin, cowboy boots and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe as inspiration. At the more playful end of last Saturday’s programme, a dozen designers including Giles Deacon created one-off works inspired by Disney’s Minnie Mouse to be auctioned off for charity on eBay. Richard Nicoll turned Minnie’s famous black ears into the shoulders of a strapless dress that featured a print of her with Mickey – her boyfriend since the two mice were created in 1928 – and hand-painted wedge heels by Terry de Havilland paid tribute to the red and white polka-dot print of her dress. Associated Press, Reuters

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