IN CONVERSATION WITH TINA LEUNG
Interview by Jana Letonja
Tina Leung is a bona fide creative and entrepreneur known for her eclectic sense of style and as a regular fixture in the front rows of the fashion scene. She is recently known as the most lovable cast member on Netflix’s ‘Bling Empire: New York’ and 2022 CFDA winner of the Positive Social Influence Award alongside fellow members of ‘House of Slay’.
Tina, you are known for your eclectic sense of style. What makes your style so unique?
When I look at my own style it’s what makes sense to me in my own head, so I don’t see it as unique or eclectic. But I love that that’s the story and the way it’s perceived because I find myself unique, I find my views unique, I like to forge my own path, so if that also translates into how I dress, then that’s amazing.
Where does your love for fashion come from?
My first passion was theater and I think the fact that you can be a different person in these plays and how you dress translates to how you express yourself, was inspiring to me. Any day could be different. You could be demure and ladylike one day or you could be fierce and like a boss another day, and that really intrigued me. I think clothing, however frivolous it may seem, is a very powerful way of expressing yourself and telling a story without saying a word.
You began freelancing as a stylist and writer for outlets including ELLE Hong Kong, Harper‘s Bazaar Hong Kong, Prestige Asia, South China Morning Post, Modern Weekly, Tatler Asia and Landmark Magazine. How has this work defined your career?
It’s taught me how to be malleable and flexible with whatever comes at me in life. I learned how to work with a varying spectrum of budgets, styles, themes and locations, which has taught me to think quickly on my feet and be flexible with last minute changes.
In 2021, Bulgari tapped you to write the book ‘Bulgari Magnifica’. Tell us more about this project. How excited were you to work on it?
Although my time spent working on this book was very short in the world of coffee table books and books in general, it was a longer-term thing for me. There was more routine in my day-to-day schedule, but I enjoyed it because they gave me a lot of creative freedom, which was very gratifying. My goal with this book was to give a voice to other women by telling the story of each chapter through women. I tapped women that made me think so outside my usual sphere of fashion, people like Amanda Nguyen and friends of mine that I look up to, like Mia Moretti with her poetry. It was a really fulfilling experience that I’m very grateful for.
dress CPLUS SERIES
necklace MADE BY MALYIA from GREENWICH ST. JEWELERS
You pushed important change in the fashion industry through your activism-oriented group ‘House of Slay’with the mission to tackle anti-Asian sentiment and representation. Why did you decide to to create this project? What are its main goals?
It came from love. We were in lockdown and we needed support. Since we’re all from different countries, we weren’t near family to lean on, so we leaned on each other. There were days we were sobbing and asking what the future is going to be like, so for us to be able to support each other was so important. ‘House of Slay’ came from that support and the love we have for each other. We would just naturally post these moments and other people would respond and loved how much we loved and enjoyed each other and the happiness in the photos. Then Stop Asian Hate started and we wanted everyone to feel loved, supported, included and to feel part of something.
full look SAINT LAURENT
We’ve also been able to see you as the most lovable character in Netflix’s ‘Bling Empire: New York’. How was this experience for you, being in front of the camera?
Being in front of the camera was very natural for me. I’m not good at lying, so all I can be is myself and I think that’s what helped me in being natural and my authentic self in the show. I loved being with friends and having those extra moments filming together that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. What was a little difficult for me was the extra work on top of everything I was already doing. It was a little difficult for me to juggle everything.
Beyond fashion, you are a travel-pro, astrology obsessed, a queen of manifestation and feng shui. What makes you so interested in astrology? And what fascinates you by it the most?
Growing up, I had no idea about any of this, my third eye was completely shut off. I couldn’t emote properly. I would see something like the Grand Canyon for example and think “Oh my God, this is so beautiful”, but I just wasn’t able to express that externally. It wasn’t until my longest relationship ended that I started opening up to things that weren’t physically obvious, which led me to discover astrology.
When I discovered astrology, I was amazed. It made so much sense and answered so many questions I had. I have three younger sisters and I would always ask myself why my relationship with each of them is the way it is. After discovering astrology and getting this insight into who the three of them are as individuals and who I am, I got it. I believe that astrology makes you more understanding and empathetic as a person. I then started discovering other things, like past lives, and meeting people that are very talented in their psychic ability. I’ve never been religious and I never understood any of these things, but I know now that there’s way more in the world than what we can see.
As a travel-pro, you’ve seen many beautiful places on this planet. Which place has made the biggest impact on you and why?
I think what makes any place is the human beings that live there. I love meeting people from different countries and places. However incredible the places I’ve seen, it’s meeting the people from there that make the place majestic.
Tina, tell us more about your upcoming, exciting ventures.
More of everything. Working with ‘House of Slay’, working on my own ventures and really pursuing all my interests. I’ve never been someone who does just one thing. I have so many passions and I love that this is my unique path in life.
talent TINA LEUNG @tinaleung
photographer KOLBY KNIGHT @kolbyknight www.kolbyknight.com
stylist CHARLIE WARD from @SeeManagement @charliewardstyles
beauty GEORGINA BILLINGTON @ArtDept using RéVive Skincare @georginabillington
hair TIMOTHY AYLWARD @TheWallGroup @TimothyAylward using GHD hair tools & MAC
set design VASSILEA TERZAKI @billie__v
photo assistant BETRAM KNIGHT
styling assistant INDIA WARRENDER
studio BROOKLYN GRAIN STUDIOS @brooklyngrain
editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA @timiletonja