Wu wears bodysuit, by LaQuan Smith, and shoes, by Alexander Wang (Photo: Darren Gabriel Leow)

If there was any doubt to whether pregnancy glow is real, Jamie QQ Wu puts it to rest. On the day we meet, she looks serene, radiant even—belying the fact that she just wrapped a 13-hour shoot the day before (the results of which can be seen here) and that in four days, will be giving birth to her second child, a daughter named Eden. But right now, we are sitting in the three-storey Modernist bungalow in Bukit Timah that Wu, with her husband, Anthony Couse, and their two-year-old son, Archie, calls home. From the outside, it is a hulk of dark grey concrete offset by lush foliage; inside, it is all warm woods and soft cream furnishings, with light pouring in through expansive floor-to-ceiling windows.

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Home is a place that has taken on major significance in Wu’s life—something that the globe-trotting fashion entrepreneur (whose most recent venture is Altava, a virtual fashion platform) did not expect. Part of it was due to the housebound lifestyle brought about by the pandemic, but more importantly, it was parenthood that triggered this paradigm shift. “We moved here three years ago. Before, I was just on the plane every other week—Singapore, Shanghai, London, Paris. We were in an apartment, for convenience. It was very nice, but it never felt like home,” shares Wu, who is in her 30s. “No one was ever there, the fridge was always empty, I never even touched the huge, beautiful pool. Before I had kids, I always associated home life with a boring life—I didn’t even care what plates we ate off. My mother would buy us nice plates and porcelain ware and things like that, but I was like, that’s not me.”

A Fashionable Life: A Tour Of Jamie QQ Wu's Modernist Bungalow
One of Xu Zhen’s oil paintings from his “Under Heaven” series decorates Wu’s dining area. (Photo: Benny Loh)

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Today, she is very much all about that. “When you’re actually home, you start caring about all these things—how nice your plates or your water glasses are,” she says. “When we found this place, it immediately felt like home—it’s very tranquil with all the greenery and it’s a very quiet neighbourhood. There’s a playground down the street and I never knew why there needed to be playgrounds. Now, it’s my lifesaver because without it, I wouldn’t know what to do with Archie for two hours every single day.”

This new-found affinity for playgrounds is not the only lifestyle adjustment for Wu. “When we moved here, it was just Anthony and I. It was a child-free couple’s party house—and trust me, we had some epic parties here,” she remarks. “This is great for entertaining because it’s one big open space and people can just go in and out—you start in the kitchen with drinks, then you move to the dining area, and then people just end up on the outside patio smoking cigars until four in the morning. Now, the adult space is the dining area and everything else is kiddy land—I swear, the toys are slowly taking over.”

A Fashionable Life: A Tour Of Jamie QQ Wu's Modernist Bungalow
Wu wears dress, by Di Petsa; bra and knickers, Wu’s own (Photo: Darren Gabriel Leow)

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Wu’s not upset about the change though. “Since I became a mother, home has become this really interesting, ever‐evolving idea. You start to think, what do you want for a home? What’s the true purpose of a home for you?” she muses. “This Christmas, we might go to our place in the south of France to see my husband’s side of the family. He grew up with holiday houses—holidays are such an important concept to them. I’m Chinese—we don’t really do holidays; we might go to the beach and that’s as much holiday as you’ll get. But now that I have children, I finally understand what family time means, why it’s nice to have a holiday home, why Christmas is important. Before this, I only celebrated Halloween because it’s fun. Now, it’s a family occasion. Going from a girl living out of a suitcase to being a mum in charge of a family is a huge change in mindset. I will still travel and am very much looking forward to it, but I wouldn’t go away for two‐and‐a‐ half weeks now. I just want to go somewhere for three days, five maximum, and then I come back home.”

A Fashionable Life: A Tour Of Jamie QQ Wu's Modernist Bungalow
A pair of Manolo Blahniks and kid’s toys. (Photo: Benny Loh)
A Fashionable Life: A Tour Of Jamie QQ Wu's Modernist Bungalow
Wu puts together an outfit comprising of her own vintage gloves, vintage headpiece, Alexander McQueen bodice and Balenciaga pantaboots. (Photo: Benny Loh)

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As she mentioned, home is an ever‐evolving idea and Wu is already thinking about the next stage. “We’re looking at moving soon. My life is entering a new phase now—I’m going to be a mother of two kids. We’ve also become so used to spending a lot of time at home; there’ll be visitors and help. We need more space,” she states. “Now, when I have a play date with two kids in the house, I feel like I’m running a day care—I just want to run away. So hopefully, we find somewhere big enough for them to run around in and play with their friends and just socialise.”

A Fashionable Life: A Tour Of Jamie QQ Wu's Modernist Bungalow
Jamie QQ Wu wears earring, from Di Petsa; dold and diamond High Jewellery Serpenti ring, from Bvlgari; headband, Wu’s own. (Photo: Darren Gabriel Leow)

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Wherever she lands, the through line will be Wu’s distinctive take on style and design. “I like minimal, open spaces,” she reveals, “because that leaves more room for imagination and creativity. I’ve never liked spaces that are too defined or decorated already, which is why I don’t think something like a colonial house would match my vibe. I want something quite clean, so I can then put in artworks or splashes that serve as highlights or accents—things that are sentimental and meaningful, or express a strong artistic intention.”

That sensibility extends to Wu’s approach to fashion as well. She favours designers that have a directional, original point of view and pieces imbued with compelling narratives. Interestingly, it was architectural design that informed her fashion choices. “I think I only really developed a sense of my own style in my early 20s,” she says. “It was after I worked with this architect who designed my restaurant in 2008. I find that architects bring such different dimensions to a space. I’d say that my style is minimal overall, but with an intense sense of dimension and detail—I’ve always opted for dramatic shapes and details. Of course, in my day‐to‐day life, I do wear simpler pieces, but collectible, statement fashion—pieces that are meaningful and will last a lifetime—are always, to me, pieces that have a strong sense of structure and form, with a story and amazing details.”

A Fashionable Life: A Tour Of Jamie QQ Wu's Modernist Bungalow
A vintage dress gets jazzed up with a LOEWE hat and novel Moschino clutch. (Photo: Benny Loh)

There are a few designers that she feels check all these boxes. “The ones I gravitate towards are more like artists—Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, for example, who has been so consistent in her artistic vision. Then there’s Daniel Roseberry, who’s doing extraordinary stuff at Schiaparelli, and Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga, whom I think has made such an interesting commentary on fashion—I think that will always hold a place in fashion history. I feel like, post‐2000s, there hasn’t really been any aesthetic‐defining designer, but he told a pop story that even 10, 20 years later, would still be very significant,” she enthuses. “Karl Lagerfeld, to me, is an absolute legend. I don’t consider myself a Chanel girl—I probably only have like five Chanel pieces in my wardrobe, but he was just one of a kind. He truly pushed the boundaries and created such fantastical stories for so many collections. And he had such a worldly view—he was never just about fashion. He was a businessman, he was best friends with celebrities, he really knew how to sell glamour.”

A Fashionable Life: A Tour Of Jamie QQ Wu's Modernist Bungalow
Wu wears dress, by Di Petsa; dold and diamond High Jewellery Serpenti bangle, by Bvlgari. (Photo: Darren Gabriel Leow)

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But what Wu is most excited about has always been the new and the next. When we first met two years ago, for BAZAAR’s annual Stylish Women portfolio, she was deeply into designers and labels such as Shuting Qiu, Richard Quinn and Y/Project. Earlier this year, when we shot her for a Tiffany & Co. showcase, she rocked up in a cloud of a dress designed by Tomo Koizumi for Emilio Pucci. For this shoot, which she conceptualised and brought to life with the help of botanical design studio This Humid House (“I’ve always had in mind the name Eden for a girl and wanted to do a Garden of Eden shoot because I liked what it meant—it’s a mythical story that is beautiful but with a sense of danger, which reflects the world we live in, the world that baby Eden will be born into,” she explains), Wu flew in pieces from rising fashion stars such as LaQuan Smith and Di Petsa.

“I gravitate towards young, new designers,” she elaborates. ”I’ve had my eye on Di Petsa for a while. I really love what AREA has been doing, with the crystals and embellishments. I think Casey Cadwallader has been doing very interesting things at Mugler recently as well, and his work is very much about the moment right now, where a strong woman is appreciated when she’s being overtly sexy. I think that’s driven by certain personalities such as Cardi B, the Hadids and the Kardashians, but it’s a big change from when they were seen as vulgar and trashy to actually being respectable. Everyone will have their opinions, but I think it’s a big moment for women, becoming even more empowered in their bodily and fashion expression.”

A Fashionable Life: A Tour Of Jamie QQ Wu's Modernist Bungalow
A sculpture by Laurence Perratzi. (Photo: Benny Loh)

Her work with Altava, which bridges physical fashion with the virtual and digital realms, has also been an eye- opener. “You see that young designers today are less about the traditional sense of fabric- making and craftsmanship,” she notes. “That’s not to say that there’s no craftsmanship, but they’re more about the storytelling and the expression of self. Brands such as Di Petsa and Harris Reed can capture public attention almost overnight. Would their craftsmanship be approved by traditional Parisian haute couture houses? Maybe not. But are they rallying a community with their storytelling, pushing certain agendas forward and inspiring people? Definitely yes. And that’s what I love about fashion right now. I think it’s critical, otherwise fashion will always be about your five legacy houses and that will be really boring.”

A Fashionable Life: A Tour Of Jamie QQ Wu's Modernist Bungalow
A dreamy creation by Tomo Koizumi for Emilio Pucci and Jimmy Choo heels in the room Wu prepared for her daughter. (Photo: Benny Loh)

And for Wu, if there’s one thing fashion should never be, it’s boring. “As a new mother, I do have a lot less time for outfit planning,” she admits. “But when the occasion is right, you want to do something extreme, like this Garden of Eden shoot, for example. Fashion to me is no longer about putting on a pair of Off-White sneakers and going to a club just because it’s cool. I want fashion to take me to fantasy land—to the ultimate of where imagination can take me. That’s why I’ve always loved fashion—it’s a beautiful escape, even if you don’t travel for two years. In fact, the travel restrictions have empowered me even more, to imagine more bravely what I can do with fashion—I discovered that, oh, I actually can be this bold and playful and adventurous with fashion.” If this is what Wu’s adventure looks like, sign us up.

Photographed by Darren Gabriel Leow 
Styled by Gracia Phang
Creative direction: Windy Aulia & Jamie QQ Wu
Interior photography: Benny Loh
Makeup: Melissa Yeo
Hair: Sean Ang
Botanical styling: This Humid House
Tattoo and body cast artist: Wu Yiqing
Tattoo and body cast artist’s assistant: Sharon Siu
Photographer’s assistant: Yann Cloitre

This article was first published in the December 2021 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore