Her father had come to America from China as a young man, working tirelessly for seven years trying to build a life for a family. Traveling on an ocean liner back to his homeland to marry her mother, Sue Wong was too young to remember when her father fled before the communist takeover, trapping her with her mother and grandmother inside the walls of starvation and abject poverty.
“I grew up in very scarce circumstances. There was starvation everywhere in china and my little grandmother would chase rats around the house, just so I would have protein for dinner.”
Guided by what Sue calls a blind leap of faith, her mother took her wedding jewelry, sewed it into small pillow, ready to carry out a dangerous plan.
“When I was five and a half years old, my mother took a courageous leap of faith and sewed her wedding jewelry into this little pillow I remember clutching to my chest. She said something very precious was in there and I had to be careful. We walked in the dark for what seemed to be forever until we arrived at the border. She traded her wedding jewelry with the border guard that night. We were granted freedom into Hong Kong.”
Sue’s parents reunited a year later after a tenuous seven year separation, and a six year old Sue Wong met her father for the very first time. “My father initially rejected me at first because I was born the wrong sex. All my life I felt alienated from my father, he was emotionally cruel to me and I was never accepted by him.”
Out of this pain, a goddess was born.
There is no existence without suffering. We have come to the human experience to learn to access our divinity through the wheelhouse of struggle. For creatives, this struggle can be gift and curse, fortune and failure. Sue Wong has experienced all of these great and terrible tenets of life’s interconnected path and accesses her memories as channels of catharsis, healing and creativity.
Her destiny was in the palms of her hands at age three. Her grandmother gave her a glass jar of colorful, illumined beads. “I thought they were the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I was completely mesmerized by their beauty. I think it is ironic that today I am known as the queen of beads.”
Sue channels the bleakness of her past, giving honor to all goddesses by alchemizing her pain into an expression of the feminine divine, creating stunning artistic imagery in fashion. Sue Wong Fashion house is known for glamour, intricacy, beauty, and divine femininity. Sue calls herself a maximalist and emphasizes classic beauty while infusing her own other worldly accentuation.
“Part of my picture of style is Old Hollywood glamour women were truly women, modern, feisty, outspoken and slightly scandalous too. If you really study my clothes, it is not only about honoring the feminine divine and beauty, it is all about majesty. I would watch classic Hollywood movies with Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, and Greta Garbo and think they were the most stunning, glamorous creatures I had ever seen. These goddesses of the silver screen would later become my iconic muses.”
Sue derives profound meaning living her life as a spiritual path. She continually seeks to be awake for the journey, invoking the goddess light, but also seeing the necessity of the opposing forces.
“I am sort of this strange dichotomy. I have a very strong feminine side and a very strong masculine side, a true combination of yin and yang. My patron goddesses I pay homage to are depicted as beautiful paintings and works of art hanging in my dining room here in The Cedars.
I worship at the temple of Aphrodite on a daily basis. When I go to my studio to work, I bow to her temple. Artemis, the goddess of the hunt is my warrior goddess. I worship at her temple because she is who propels me out into the universe to really accomplish, achieve and conquer. My other Goddess is Athena. She is the goddess of wisdom. She is the one who connects me with my higher self which is what I really desire to be. In my life I want to live in a sense of understanding to have a deeper experience.
Sue’s good friend Romio Shrestha, the master painter for H.H. Dali Lama identified her as the living incarnation of Kwan Yin, the goddess of love, compassion and beauty.
Connecting to her energy is an unmistakable experience. Sue radiates with a glint of mischief in her eyes, and walks with effortless grace in long elaborate, colorful gowns. She speaks with an intimate compassion and an unexpected pragmatism.
“This business has a lot to do with looks, status and prestige; there is a lot of Maya involved. I am in the business of maya, that is all that glamour really is: an illusion.
As a spiritual warrior I can play in the field as long as I am able to identify it for what it is and still participate. I do not become the maya itself.”
Sue Wong has dressed a diverse pantheon of celebrities including Jessica Fields, Kim Kardashian, Tyra Banks, Vanessa Williams, Jayne Seymour, Kelly Osborne, Anne Hathaway, a young Miley Cirus, Kathy Griffin, and Reba McEntire, all whom are goddesses in their own right. She has also dressed Knoxville Giving Closet recipient Felicia Outsey in one of her hand beaded gowns in a charity organization that awards an underprivileged yet deserving woman a $10,000 designer fashion collection.
Sue’s philanthropic efforts are many and span the scope of our world’s challenges. She has served through Nature Conservancy, Kipahulu Community Association, HollyRod Foundation, Unicef, The American Cancer Society, Asia Society, and Wings.
It is her commitment to excellence and continual growth to her craft that helps her to reconnect to the deep soul work that is her purpose.
“The professions we choose for ourselves are in direct relation to our psychology. Why did I choose to be a fashion designer? I think I really was trying to heal my own wounded goddess within myself. My father was an oppressive patriarchal energy who always disapproved of me and psychologically abused me. I wanted to discover my own inner goddess again.
My life has been the ultimate artistic journey too. I really see my life as a work of art. It has incredible layers, it is a tapestry embroidered with very colorful threads. I have had ups and downs and huge downfalls. I have made and lost enormous fortunes twice. These are life lessons that I have to understand. It is important to be awake for the journey.”