13. surface asia april 2011 singapore fashion week blueprint designers


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13. surface asia april 2011 singapore fashion week blueprint designers

  1. 1. The New Faces of Contemporary Asian Art Exclusive Coverage: Blueprint Fashion 2011 20 Emerging Product Designers 03 Unmasked
  2. 2. the wild one No newbie to the industry, Alfie Leong has held sway in the Singapore fashion scene for more than 15 years now. In 1995, he won the Singapore Fashion Designer Contest, was the first runner-up for the Asia Designer Awards and represented Singapore in the Japan Grand Prix Award. He launched his own label – Capsule – in Isetan in 1996, followed by Flag in 1999 and Mu in 2004, represented Singapore at Beijing Fashion Week 2000 and was a judge at the Smirnoff International Contest 2001. Despite the accolades, Leong doesn’t think that he has an edge over his peers. “I do not think being a fashion designer in Asia is easy, but I am a creative person and I do not allow myself to submit completely to mainstream trends. That’s important if you want to stand out.” Contemporary, yet unconventional in form, with bold colours, prints and soft, flowing fabrics, his latest cruise collection is sensual, daring and fun. He believes that even though the fashion scene in Asia is vibrant and exciting, Singaporeans are not giving fashion due attention. “The market in Singpore is flooded with choice, but it lacks consumer power to support the retailers. The majority of buyers here are not exactly daring enough to explore new ideas. It makes Singapore designers like myself have to either submit to staid tastes or stick by my guns and struggle to pay the rent.” When it comes to balancing aesthetics and practicality, Leong says that depends on geography. “In order for a design to be user-friendly, location and weather are key. The style in New York City is basic and street, London is avant-garde, Milan is classic and Paris is creative. But if you take some of the clothes from these fashion capitals and put them in a Singaporean context, they come across as dramatic or over-the-top to some, and many will not be able to imagine themselve wearing these creations and walking down Orchard Road. I always believe in balancing what I like with wearability, especially when I design for Singaporeans. However, Blueprint’s collection is mainly for export, so I allowed myself to go a little wild.” Singaporean fashion designerAlfie Leong’s label, A.WO.L (AllWalks of Life),is a tribute to the confidence and individuality of modern women Words MICHELE KOH MOROLLO IMAGEScourtesyofA.W.o.l
  3. 3. the young ones Syarifah Liza Mashita, Adrianus Rama Dauhan and Dana Maulana make up Danjyo-Hiyoji, a women’s and menswear label that is adored by style-savvy Jakartarites. It won The Most Innovative Local Brand Cleo Fashion Award 2009 and is quickly gaining recognition outside of Indonesia. However, the slightly outlandish but highly wearable pieces from Danjyo-Hiyoji are not for conservative dressers. Asymmetric hemlines, ruffled sleeves and long theatrical capes take much panache and confidence to pull off.   This rare quality of street-hip flamboyance can be attributed to the diverse backgrounds of the three designers. Before coming together, Mashita was a freelance cloth maker, a TV show senior stylist and a film production head at a wardrobe department; Dauhan was a fashion student at ESMOD, Jakarta who worked as an in-house designer for a well-known Indonesian high street brand, and Maulana studied international business at Greenwich University in London and was a manager for a London-based label. Mashita describes her style as “deconstructive simplicity”, Dauhan says he’s a “summer boy, effortles with a lil’ twist and dare” while Maulana says he’ll wear anything he wants and break boundaries just because he can. The trio get their inspiration from the spirit of youth street culture and their works ooze defiance and individuality. The collection that Danjyo-Hiyoji will be showing at Blueprint is their take on old things that are transformed into something new, and many of the pieces are 1920s and ’30s-style outfits that have been reworked into a modern concept. The three young Indonesians see their label as dynamic and ever-changing. Though their designs have a slightly kooky and avant garde “twist”, the trio say they balance this with user friendliness. “Once our clients try our stuff they are amazed at how easily they can adapt the piece to suit their taste. Once, we made an oversized dress with a lot of layers and put some buttons in hidden places. When our clients put those layers into the buttons, the look of the dress was totally different, and that’s what we mean when we talk about dynamism and change.” One thing the three agree on is that a successful fashion designer is someone who can share everything with his or her team. “No one is perfect, but once you have a good team you will have a good product,” says Mashita, on behalf of them all. Youthful,with a splash of bohemian whimsy, Danjyo-Hiyoji’s spritely style stands out from the crowd. Words MICHELE KOH MOROLLO IMAGEScourtesyofDANJO-HIYOJI Nutthida Palasak is interested in structure, so geometric patterns like the circle and triangle serve as the main source of inspiration for her designs. Raw, bold, avant garde silhouettes tempered with a gentle simplicity describe her style. “The idea of a simple circle can itself generate many great designs, and when it fuses with triangular patterns, I get something really special,” she says. “I love structure and patterns, and these make up my current design style.” Palasak considers Thai handmade silk the “queen of fabrics” and used plenty of Thai silk by Jim Thompson as the main material for her Blueprint collection. Her main source of inspiration was innovative geometrical shapes, which she draped on mannequins by folding, fitting, wrapping, repeating, pleating and gathering. These techniques were later applied to many of the designs to create the actual outfits, resulting in garments that look very much like human origami creations.   For Palasak, both aesthetics and practicality are essential when it comes to making good clothes. She also believes that maximising functionality by creating items that can be worn in different styles is a plus. “Sometimes, fahion is the best way to express the personality or emotion of a person. What you wear can show if you are angry, happy, sad or something else. Fashion is like a person’s second skin.” The young designer is also a a pattern-making lecturer in Sinakarinwirod University, Bangkok, and has to constantly research new materials for my students. She sees Blueprint as a great opportunity to bring together local and international designers, retailers and consumers. “Asia is a producer and exporter of garments to the world. Thailand is one of the largest producers and exporters of garments, with a reputation for being one of the biggest manufacturers of quality clothes, fabrics, and accessories, so the fashion industry and Thailand’s manufacturing industry compliment each other very well. I hope the fashion industry will grow further as the demand increases globally.” the structuralist Thai designer Nutthida Palasak loves the ability of good structure and pattern to create rhythm in a design. Words MICHELE KOH MOROLLO BLUEPRINT : Asia’s Fashion Trade Gateway IMAGEScourtesyofNUTTHIDAPALASAK Surface Asia 4948 Surface Asia
  4. 4. feminine flair Kleting Titis Wigati, the woman behind Indonesian label KLÉ integrates light, airy forms with edgy cuts to bring forth a new kind of pretty. Her designs fuse traditonal feminine elements like girly patterned fabrics, frilly skirts and flowing materials with strong, confident necklines and pleats. Her label, which was conceived in 2009 has certainly made an impact in Jakarta and the brand’s flagship stores can be found at the Grand Indonesia’s East Mall and Harvey Nochols in Jakarta. At Blueprint, Wigati will be showcasing a charming collection that includes mid waist cuts, hareem pants, clog skirts and ethereal Lolita-esqe dresses in warm earth tones and calming pastels. The young and attractive Wigati studied fashion in Europe and lived in Milan for four years, so she has adapted European sartorial sense into her works. This meeting of West and East gave birth to designs that defy categorisation. For the collection that she will feature at Blueprint, Wigati did a lot of restructuring and “renovating”. She used plenty of cut fabrics, reconstructed patterns and loose lines for comfortable and breezy everyday wear. She believes that high fashion’s priority should be aesthetics. As she sees it, haute couture doesn’t have to be practical, it just has to stand out and be wearable enough to be showcased. “Most of my collection is based on emotions or issues of the day, and I apply these feelings and sentiments to my work,” she explains. Indonesia has millions of traditional fabrics and styles and Wigati has incorporated some of these to create a more modern and universally appealing look in some of her pieces. Wigati believes that the fashion industry in Asia is improving. “You can see how Prabal Gurung, Thakoon and Alexander Wang have been dominating the industry for the past two years. Indonesia is an emerging market and I think my generation had a breakthrough with prêt-a-porter and has contributed much to the scene. What we have achieved in the past two years has surprised the industry and is proof that we know how to design clothes that are outstanding yet wearable.” Fun,flirty and girly are words that best describe the spirit of KLÉ. Words MICHELE KOH MOROLLO IMAGEScourtesyofKLÉ the dreamer Women’s wear designer Ashburn Eng, does not see the point in worrying over how well his work is received. “I prefer to design clothes that document a dream or moment in time. I believe in individuality and diversity. I don’t design my collections based on current trends or seasonal tastes. Each set of designs is largely based on a developed story and my own DNA, which helps to counter the harsh reality of the fashion industry’s fickle nature.” His clothes are deceptively simple, yet his devotion to construction means they are very intricate upon closer inspection.   The founder and creative director of Test Shoot Gallery, Eng’s works earned him two top prizes at the Iconique Societas Awards in 2009 for Best Fashion Stylist and Overall Winner. As a stylist, he has worked with many fashion designers whose art spurred him to create his own line, Young & Restless. To accentuate the female form, cut-out pattern drafts were ‘sandwiched’ and sewn together primitively, so when worn, the fabric naturally falls into synchronising drapes and flounces. It is Eng’s hope that the wearer will experience the joy of escapism, much like his vision of a flying squirrel in an urban landscape. The fabrics used are lightweight and breathable following a palette of aquamarine, teal and turqoise juxtaposed against black and sand tones. The choice of colours are reminiscent of transiting light at the end of a tunnel. Describing himself as a surrealist and a day tripper, Eng says his latest works follow a theme of psychological delusion. “I enjoy adding contrast and drama to an outfit, which usually draws attention to the wearer. I think all women deserve red carpet moments. Serious fashion buyers are always on the lookout for fresh, progressive and fashion-forward styles, so I think you have to be bold, and possibly a little mad.” His perspective on the local fashion industry, while balanced, is positive: ‘While it is catching up with its Western counterparts, Asia is also struggling to remain true to itself, its heritage, traditions and costumes,” he says. “At present, Singapore does not have a huge market for fashion or an established fashion-based culture. But the scene has improved vastly over the past decade, and Singapore is carving out a definite identity for itself.” He believes events like Blueprint can potentially serve as a fashion gateway for Singaporean and Asian designers who want to go global. The event helps by drawing the attention of international media, buyers and potential stockists, thus enabling upcoming designers to achieve greater international profiles. Visualising a squirrel flying against a backdrop of skyscrapers became the seed forAshburn Eng’s collection. Words MICHELE KOH MOROLLO BLUEPRINT : Asia’s Fashion Trade Gateway IMAGEScourtesyofYOUNG&RESTLESS Surface Asia 5150 Surface Asia
  5. 5. According to Zhang, Asians and Europeans have different sartorial tastes because physically, they are built differently. “Generally, Asians are slim and small and Europeans are large and tall. So Asian men are more concerned with finding cuts that make them look stronger and more imposing.” Zhang tells us that in recent years, though there have been significant achievements in China’s fashion industry, most Chinese still think that fashion is an unecessary luxury. “Fashion is not just about the clothes and the accessories, but about quality of life; it’s about learning how to celebrate life and enjoy yourself. China’s fashion is also getting more international. In China, only a very small group of people are aware of Chinese labels. They are not well recognised or accepted compared to overseas brands. The quality and the designs of many Chinese designers are not inferior to big international labels, but their value is not acknowledged. The challenge, I believe, is to remove the “Made in China” mindset that many hold regarding the Chinese fashion industry. Just because a garment is designed and manufactured in China does not make it of cheap quality,” he asserts. Zhang’s collection for Blueprint aims to bring the stage to ordinary life. To make the collection shine, Zhang mixes fabrics, adds zippers and furs and oriental elements like silk to create truly interesting pieces. “The collection I’m featuring is very unique but also practical. They are inspired by Dali’s paintings, full of misplaced design and mysticism in the details.” Born in Beijing, Chi Zhang pursued his dreams of becoming a fashion designer at 16. He earned his master’s in fashion from Milan’s Istututo Marangoni, then launched his menswear label, Chi Zhang, in England. Currently working from his own studio in Beijing, Zhang’s style is a mixture of gorgeous luxury and modern lines. He enjoys mixing different types of fabric and texture, and coming up with edgy and elegant designs imbued with a touch of mysticism. His works include jackets and short capes with interesting pattern work, asymmetric cuts and experimental proportions. the oriental surrealist Chi Zhang employs a touch of surrealism to give stature and allure to his menswear collection. Words MICHELE KOH MOROLLO IMAGEScourtesyofCHIZHANG Self-taught fashion designer Lu Yilin’s background in visual art, graphic design, printmaking and conceptual art adds an unconventional and highly experimental edge to her clothes. With a gentle palette of white, black and beige, her latest collection for her label Yumumu is a celebration of simplicity and minimalism. Practical and comfortable, pieces in this collection are versatile everyday staples with sleek, sexy silhouttes and innovative lines, folds and details. Unique features are the adoption of origami folds that add interest to the texture of the fabrics, and the use of stripes to complement sharp tailored lines. What differentiates Yilin from other designers is her ability to capture a sense of timeless femininity with a fresh twist every season. She also has a sensitivity for tailoring and detail that is remarkable. Panelling and fluid constructions are her signatures but the look changes from season to season, as they are usually a hybrid of disparate influences. Nevertheless, the attitude of the Yumumu woman – independent and eclectic, remains. “Most of my pieces have an understated appeal. I’m intrigued by urban transformation in the crevices of the city; for example, rusted surfaces and the peeling of printed posters off walls. The colours follow the gradations of tainted metal, and the form similarly relaxes and undoes itself. The structure, like the city’s scaffolding, is suspended and hung with fragile touches. Our muse knows the city. She is modern, and her pose is erect, but there is also a certain bohemian fluidity to the way she moves and navigates its streets. This is the spirit that moved this collection.” Yilin explains. It is not only important to Yilin that women wearing her clothes look good, they must feel good too. In Yilin’s book, there is a huge change in the attitudes of both the producers and the consumers of fashion in Asia today and she notices more openness to different modes of dressing. However, she says that the sourcing of materials and manufacturing facilities are limited, especially in Singapore, which makes experimentation a bit more difficult. the self-styled minimalist LuYilin’s multi-diciplinary arts background expresses itself in her simple yet exquisite designs. Words MICHELE KOH MOROLLO BLUEPRINT : Asia’s Fashion Trade Gateway IMAGEScourtesyofYUMUMU Surface Asia 5352 Surface Asia