A designer wise to the streets of Pulau Tikus

loading Rivalee (seated) with his business partner, Sam Lim Yew Chuan.

Winning the Moda Theater Clothes of High Fashion 97/98 brought opportunities for fashion designer Richard Rivalee. This included working with veteran Hong Kong artist Fung Bo Bo. How did this Thai-Chinese go from sleeping on the streets around Persiaran Gurney to establishing a couture house in Pulau Tikus? Penang Monthly finds out.

Tell us a bit about your background. You dropped out of school at a young age; how has that experience shaped you?

When I was growing up, education was a luxury. Coming from a poor family, money was scarce and I had to start working when I was seven – it was either the alphabet or going to bed with an empty stomach. Soon after that, I left home and, on some nights, I had to sleep on the streets, either at Persiaran Gurney or the five-foot-ways around Pulau Tikus. Being so independent at such a young age made me very streetwise and the experience has definitely humbled me; my clients used to tell me that they were drawn to me because of my humility. I think that’s my edge.

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