Bernard Chandran was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the 27th February 1968. Growing up in an Islamic country and coming from a mixed parentage background of Indian and Chinese, he was exposed to a rich understanding of cultures at a very young age.
Starting off as an accounting student, after a year and half, he realised that he was only pursuing this career for his father’s sake. Therefore just like any ambitious young man, one night, he managed to convince his father that fashion design is what would make him the most happy and successful in life.
Holding on to his dream to design for the richest men on earth, in 1988, he made a career switch and enrolled himself into IFTC (International Fashion Training College), a local fashion college. Whilst pursuing his fashion education in the small city of Kuala Lumpur, he realised the need to move to Paris in order to further accomplish his career in fashion. His lovely then girlfriend, now his wife and his mother encouraged him and gave him the full support to pursue his dreams in the city of lights.
In 1993, Bernard Chandran graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the Paris American Academy and Pattern Making at L’Union Des Chambers Syndicales Parisiennes, Paris.
Immediately his outstanding talent was recognised. Whilst in Paris, he achieved the exceptional accolade of being the first non-European designer to win both the coveted Silk Cut Young Designers Award and the Open European contest for Look of the Year 2000 in 1991.
Paris inspired Bernard and made him understand his own culture in an even more personal manner. Determined to spin his own game in his home country first, upon graduating, he returned to Malaysia to start his own destiny in fashion, in his words, “to be the Chanel of Malaysia”.
Determination, innovation and hard work brought forth success for the young Bernard. In 1994, he introduced a new silhouette and technique of using embellishment and fabrics in the traditional Malay outfit. The new innovation has since carved a pivotal turn for the way traditional outfits are designed and worn. Well ahead of his time, his talent is well acknowledged amongst the aristocrats in Malaysia and even reached the shores of Brunei. His dream certainly came true and today, he still attends to royal patronage from Brunei, Malaysia and international celebrities like Michelle Yeoh, Lady Gaga, Estelle, Tori Amos and many others.
Today, Bernard Chandran is an inspiration to many young designers in his home country. He paved the way for many young hopefuls who wish to pursue a career in fashion when many conservative parents in Malaysia do not see the potential of such a career.
His influence and talent has gained him numerous recognitions and accolades. In 2007, he was conferred Dato (the Malaysian equivalent of a knighthood) by the Sultan of Pahang for his outstanding contributions to fashion design. The Sultan Abu Bakar Museum, an old palace turned Museum, even invited him to hold a solo exhibition in its prestigious halls.