Celebrating 51 years of local fashion

Former model Ethel Fong giving veteran fashion journalist Tom Rao an affectionate hug. Ms Fong said it was a huge honour to be a part of the event, which was organised to acknowledge the icons who have shaped Singapore's fashion industry.
Former model Ethel Fong giving veteran fashion journalist Tom Rao an affectionate hug. Ms Fong said it was a huge honour to be a part of the event, which was organised to acknowledge the icons who have shaped Singapore's fashion industry.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Statuesque former models, fashion icons and bigwigs lined the steps of the Singapore Courtyard at the National Gallery, like so many art works.

Clad in red, white and black, they posed and smiled for famed celebrity photographer Russel Wong.

The 51 women, representing 51 years of Singapore's fashion industry, had gathered for the shoot in the lead-up to Singapore Fashion Week in October (26-30), which will also be held at the gallery.

The photo will be gifted to the National Gallery and showcased during the Fashion Week event.

Among the luminaries was former model Ethel Fong, who in the 1980s was one of the rare Asian faces on international runways.

Now a mother of two grown-up children, Ms Fong, 53, said: "It's like a big reunion. It's a huge honour to be recognised as a model icon for Singapore."

Organiser Tjin Lee, 42, the chairman of Singapore Fashion Week, described the event as a "gathering of 51 strong women".

She said it was the first time the fashion industry was looking inwards at the people who have put Singapore on the world map.

"We are recognising not just the present and honouring the past - the pioneers upon whom we have built our nation's fashion heritage - but also the future," she said.

Mr Wong , 55, said he believes the photo shows the journey the industry has taken, including "the pioneers that paved the way, to the present people who are involved with the fashion industry now".

Other industry movers and shakers in the line-up included fashion designer Celia Loe and jewellery designer Carolyn Kan.

A book called Fashion Most Wanted, which chronicles the advancement of fashion in Singapore from the 1950s till today, was also launched at the event. It was written by veteran fashion journalists Tom Rao, Cat Ong and John de Souza, supported by the National Heritage Board and published by Straits Times Press.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2016, with the headline 'Celebrating 51 years of local fashion'. Print Edition | Subscribe