Diane von Furstenberg to open Singapore Fashion Week

Diane von Furstenberg's spring/summer 2015 collection at New York Fashion Week. -- PHOTO: DIANE VON FURSTENBERG
Diane von Furstenberg's spring/summer 2015 collection at New York Fashion Week. -- PHOTO: DIANE VON FURSTENBERG
Designer Diane von Furstenberg acknowledges the crowd following her Spring/Summer 2015 collection show during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York in this Sept 7, 2014 file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Designer Diane von Furstenberg acknowledges the crowd following her Spring/Summer 2015 collection show during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York in this Sept 7, 2014 file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore's biggest fashion event will return in May this year with a revamped format to reflect a greater trade focus.

Now named Singapore Fashion Week, it will include a tie-up with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), whose president Diane von Furstenberg will open the event by showcasing her fall/winter 2015 collection.

Organised by Mercury Marketing & Communications, Singapore Fashion Week (SFW) replaces Audi Fashion Festival (AFF). The latter was formed in 2009 to promote Singapore as a retail hub through glitzy fashion shows for consumers.

In previous years, prominent brands such as Carolina Herrera, Roberto Cavalli, Oscar de la Renta and Dsquared2 have showcased their collections alongside local brands such as Raoul, hansel, Ong Shunmugam and Saturday at AFF.

Outlining the event, SFW chairman Tjin Lee, who also founded AFF, told Life! that the new objective is to "internationalise Singapore and regional designers".

As part of the CFDA partnership, mentorship programmes with established American designers will be held for local designers.

During the event this year, von Furstenberg, who popularised the wrap dress, will speak with fashion students, industry professionals and members of the public alongside CFDA chief executive Steven Kolb.

This year, Ms Lee says that more international buyers from top stores will be invited to the event, which was mainly attended by consumers and the media previously.

"If I can even place one Singapore label in international stores by 2016 it would be more than we have achieved in five years; I'm not talking about your small multi-label boutiques overseas, I'm thinking about the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, Net-A-Porter and Harvey Nichols," says Ms Lee.

Singapore Fashion Week will cost $2 million as in previous years and is funded by private sponsors. Ms Lee says there will also be government funding for specific aspects of the event.

Speaking about the significance of the name change, Ms Lee says that the name Singapore Fashion Week carries more weight and credibility.

"When I talk to international designers and invite them to show at Audi Fashion Festival, some will ask 'what's that?'," explains Ms Lee. Audi's sponsorship contract ended with last year's event.

The name SFW was used between 2000 to 2008 for a fashion trade event which was said to lack direction and support.

Singapore Fashion Week will be on from May 13 to 17. Full details of the fashion shows and ticketing will be released in March.