Meet Daniel Boey
Name: Daniel Boey
Occupation: Fashion Director / Creative Consultant / Television Personality / Author / Dog activist
Skin condition: AD / Chronic eczema
I feel like people with skin conditions often have a one-line explanation that they use to explain their skin condition to others. Tell us yours.
I used to launch into a long explanation to explain my eczema but nowadays, I don’t even bother anymore. I just say “I have a rash and it is not contagious!”. And leave it as that.
What are you up to in life right now?
I run a creative consultancy specialising in the design and curation of fashion and lifestyle events. I still dip my toes into the fashion world now and then but most of my fashion dalliances lie in the field of television and movies.
I was fashion director of two major television mini-series this year (apart from making cameos in them) and have recently filmed a guest spot for another production airing in December.
I have just released my third book, which is about my passion—rescue dogs (my second book was about living life with eczema). I am very active in the rescue dog community and volunteer at a shelter called Voices For Animals. I am also very active in fundraising for the shelter.
I used to be really terrified of appearing on television, especially if its in the aftermath of an attack. I wrote about this in my second book, and highlighted a case on the set of Asia’s Next Top Model, when I was fed something I was allergic to and broke out in the middle of filming. I could feel my eyes swelling up even as the cameras rolled, and my skin burning under the makeup. I rushed to the doc for a jab as soon as filming was done, and the makeup head called me in a couple of hours earlier the next day to put a soothing mask on. And everyone carried on as if nothing had happened. The only one panicking was me!
So breakouts don't really bother me now. If the producer / director can embrace me as I am and not kick me off the show, then who am I to self-censor myself?
You have this really amazing fashion career: you're widely known as the godfather of Singapore fashion. You've worked with major brands and produced fashion shows all over the world, and you served as a judge on Asia's Next Top Model. What is it about fashion—the art of dressing—that appeals to you? As a person with eczema, what is it like to work in an industry that places such a high premium on appearance?
I am interested in telling stories. My biggest thrill with producing fashion shows is translating the inspiration of the designer into a story for the runway—from the set design to the soundtrack, the graphics on the invite, the decor and the casting.
I get inspired by talent—amazing designers that break new boundaries with their clothes; models that rewrite the stereotypes of what models should look like; set designers that break the rules; stylists that think out of the box. These are what drive me.
Fashion is also a costume we put on when we want to assume different personas. And many use fashion as an avenue to hide our true personas from the world.
I used to embrace fashion as a way to hide my eczema, but as my face was always swollen and flush from the breakouts, it was a tad difficult. I used to be extremely self-conscious, especially in the early days when I would lose job opportunities because people were judgemental. It was also extremely challenging in the early days of my fashion career, when people would make bitchy remarks in my face and call me names. It was a tough time. But it spurred me on to make a success of my chosen career. I vowed that, one day, I would be in a position to dictate trends.
I'm so interested in the way that people with skin conditions dress, because I think we often prioritize comfort, or, if we feel bad about our skin, we use clothes—long sleeves, long pants—to cover it up. Tell us how eczema's influenced your style. Do you show off your skin? What do you do to stay simultaneously comfortable and chic?
I used to be extremely conscious of what I wore and made sure I covered myself from head to toe. But in Singapore’s warm weather, it just aggravated the eczema even more, which caused my face to turn a brilliant shade of scarlet.
Today, I wear what I want, and if my rash can be seen, so be it.
I have also discovered what works for me and what triggers the rash, so I would stay away from fabrics that cause it to itch, or materials that trap heat.
I cannot wear wool because it would trigger breakouts so I wear cotton knit sweaters instead.
I wear cotton tanks when I walk my dog because they are kinder to my skin. I wear berms that reach mid-thigh, cos any longer and it would rub against my knee, causing it to break out.
And I walk my dog at the break of dawn so that I do not perspire in the heat of the morning sun.
Having eczema does not mean you have to walk around looking like a dump. You can be stylish despite your breakouts. You just have know what your triggers are, and shop around for the right pieces.
You don’t even need to spend a lot of money on your clothes. Most of my basics are from Uniqlo!
Where can we keep up with you?
I have two Instagram accounts:
@danielboey for everything in my life
@look_its_leia for all things related to my dog
I have two Facebook accounts:
@Daniel Boey for all things fashion-related
@Daniel Marcus Boey for everything else in my life