Long before Dato' Farah Khan became the Malaysia-based fashion mogul, designer and high-flying socialite that she is today, she was Chan Kheng Lin, an impressionable Singaporean teen who had just won her first fashion design competition.
The year was 1972, and Khan, then 17, had won a Designer of the Year contest here with a cheongsam-inspired gown she crafted.
"I didn't know anything, I was clueless. How I entered the contest God only knows. But I did, and winning it set me with a sense of confidence to move further with it (fashion design)," she says excitedly, showing this reporter a black-and-white keepsake photo capturing her moment of triumph.
We are in the lobby lounge of a five-star hotel in Singapore and the youthful-looking mother of three is dressed in her own designs.
Khan, who turns 59 in July, looks effortlessly chic in a black sequined vest over a sleeveless cream silk top, paired with a pleated mini skirt. Since winning the competition, she has found her way into the glamorous life of a fashion retail maven.
She is founder and president of The Melium Group, which marks its 25th anniversary this year. It is one of the biggest retail powerhouses in Malaysia, which distributes more than 100 international luxury fashion and lifestyle brands, including high-end brands Givenchy, Saint Laurent Paris, Tod's and Hugo Boss.
Her namesake fashion label launched in 2007, which her group also carries, is faring well too.
It is stocked in 70 cities worldwide and has been worn by Hollywood celebrities such as E! Entertainment host Giuliana Rancic, fashion model and entrepreneur Kimora Lee Simmons and socialite Paris Hilton.
Khan was in town last week for the Audi Fashion Festival to present her fall/winter Farah Khan collection here for the first time.
The chatty designer-entrepreneur tells Life! that Friday's show was a "homecoming", given that her fashion career began in Singapore.