Christina Ong and family
Ong’s knack for snapping up London’s designer shops like they’re going out of fashion once earned her the label “Queen of Bond Street”. “She walks into a store, says they’ll take it, and the deal is done,” an estate agent said in awe at the time of her haul in the 1990s. The Singaporean style mogul is not shy in the boardroom either. It was handbags at dawn when she ousted Somerset-based Mulberry’s founder Roger Saul in a coup in 2003. “Mrs Ong” – to all but her best friends, such as Donna Karan, who call her “Chris” – has deep, designer pockets.
She comes from old money: daddy was a multimillionaire and she married Ong Beng Seng (BS, to Mrs O), a billionaire property magnate whose Singapore-based Hotel Properties operates brands including Hilton, InterContinental and Four Seasons. His business has also overseen a string of residential developments in Mayfair, Chelsea and Holland Park, while his next London project involves a 1.1-acre site at Paddington. The couple complement each other. “He's like a hurricane and…I'm like a swan,” Ong, 69, said in a rare interview.
She also founded the fashion operation Club 21 and, tired of staying in chintzy hotels, a chain of her own, Como – the initials of her and daughter Melissa – with white interiors, holistic spas and in-room yoga mats. It includes London hotels the Halkin and the Metropolitan. Ong’s Beng Seng's 77.74% stake in Hotel Properties is worth £880m. Melissa, 41, (they also have a son, Jonathan, 28) is a non-executive director at Mulberry, where her family’s holding has risen £51m to £366m, as well as being director of activities at Como and a director of Club 21.