On the morning of Oct 16, the Malaysian fashion industry was dealt a tragic loss.
Veteran couturier Sonny San, 54, died from a heart attack. (His funeral – at Xiao En Centre in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur – is on Oct 19).
San is famed for his ready-to-wear label Eclipse, and respected for having been one of the early pioneers in homegrown fashion.
Eclipse, founded in 1996, features San’s unmistakably feminine style, with impeccably draped dresses and silhouettes that best represents pure, relaxed luxury.
Here, people from the industry pay tribute to San, hailing him as a kind person and someone who has always lived life to the fullest.
Dzireena Mahadzir, Star2 fashion and beauty editor
Sonny was such a wonderful, sweet and kind person. He was one of the first Malaysian designers I interviewed and we’ve had many wonderful conversations. As I write this, I’m wearing a favourite jacket from his Bis collection and very much like Sonny, it is perfect. Will miss you!
William K.C. Kee, Star2 features editor and fashion columnist
When I got the news, I didn’t want to believe it was real, as it was so sudden and heartbreaking. The fashion world has lost one of its brightest stars; Sonny was considered a dai gor (big brother) of the industry, someone whom everyone could turn to for advice. In all my meetings with him, I observed that he always treated people with warmth, kindness and generosity.
We last hung out at a work event, chatting and laughing over glasses of bubbly. I complimented him on his recent collection and he offered to make me a jumpsuit and asked for my measurements. He excused himself early from that event as he had to rush back to meet a client at his shop. No amount of persuasion could get Sonny to stay on as he didn’t want to let his client down. That’s Sonny for you; a professional and a friend who never wants to let anyone down.
Rubin Khoo, editor-in-chief of Prestige and August Man Malaysia
It is with great sadness as I write this. To me, Sonny truly carried himself like an elder statesman of the fashion industry. He was always willing to offer advice and suggestions. I had great respect for him. He was intelligent, creative and had strong commercial instinct. I regarded him as a mentor and could always count on his support. That is so important in today’s fast-paced, fleeting world. RIP dear Sonny. I wish we had met up and kept in touch more.
Ferhat Nazri-Aziz, head of marketing and public relations, Melium
You lived a life less ordinary. Sonny, I will miss our deep and meaningful conversations about life and travel. I will miss how you value friendship. Most importantly, I will miss your amazing presence.
Carmen Soo, actress and model
I have known Sonny for close to 20 years. For the funniest reason, whenever I have any life-changing experiences, he would always call me, offering me words of encouragement, an offer to dress me, or just a call to show support. His knowledge of women’s bodies and what flatters them is incomparable. On a personal level, he is generous with advice and ideas, and never made anyone feel inferior. And he is always kind. I will miss his comforting words, laughter, wicked humour and brilliant mind. He always made me feel like he is a phone call away and I will miss him terribly.
Bernie Chan, emcee and model
Smart. Articulate. Well-travelled. Funny. Youthful looking. Warm. Sonny, I met you when I was 18 – a few months after I started modelling and it was at your show that you kept tugging at my skirt backstage. You said your design was sitting too high on my waist. I was, like, “Unfortunately, that is my waist, it’s very high.” And we laughed and laughed. You will be missed.
Sunitha Thayaparan, former deputy editor of Harper’s Bazaar
Sonny was a bright soul who lit up the room the second he danced in. I’ll miss his joie de vivre, his insatiable passion for Life. The energy he brought to every creative endeavour. His incisive wit and generous nature. And his kindess.
Peter Lum, public relations consultant
It’s indeed a sad day losing a sublime talent in our Malaysian fashion world. He will be missed. May my dear Sonny San rest in peace.
Celest Thoi, fashion designer
I am deeply saddened by the shocking news and loss! Sonny is such a great person, so talented yet had no airs. I remember meeting him for the first time and he was so welcoming, friendly, wise and fun to be around with. We should celebrate his life and his great contribution to the fashion industry. I am sure he has touched everyone with a piece of Sonny San one way or another. RIP my dear friend, you are greatly missed!
Joseph Teoh, country manager of Christian Dior Thailand
Sonny was that rare individual who was constantly curious about life despite his many milestones and achievements. He was also a wonderful mentor, always warm and ready with advice if that is what you seek, and a smile when you can’t find the reason to. There will never be another like Sonny and I will miss him dearly; as will the many who have had the pleasure of knowing him.
Ken Lim, founder of Kensapothecary
I have known Sonny for more than two decades. He was the one who gave me the opportunity to start my beauty business at his Eclipse boutiques before anyone took my beauty brands seriously. He’s a mentor, a dear friend. A very generous person who never ceased to enliven the surroundings. Thank you, Sonny for being there and you will be missed deeply.