In love with the old and frayed

Fashion design student Azra Syakirah relishes the challenge of styling such pieces

Comfort is important to Ms Azra Syakirah and it also shows in her designs ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG

Q & A

Ms Azra Syakirah, 20, single, fashion design student and freelance designer/stylist

How would you describe your style?

Contemporary and avant-garde with a play of layers and drapes.

When did your interest in fashion start?

When I was 15 years old, I chose art as a subject for my O-level examinations. I explored various forms of art and when I was introduced to fashion design and illustration, I knew I wanted to do that for a living. I see it as a challenge to create something new.

Who are your favourite designers and go-to brands?

Colombian-born French designer Haider Ackermann is one of my favourites as he experiments with various textures, fabrics and drapes, mixing and matching them to give the look a whole new vibe.

I also look up to American fashion designer Rick Owens. As a menswear enthusiast, I'm inspired by his silhouettes and the mix of drapery and clean lines in his looks.

As I travel a lot, I get most of my clothing from different countries, at local stores along the streets, malls and thrift shops. I love finding rare and unique pieces of clothing.

Who are your style icons?

As a hijabi (a woman who wears a head scarf), I feel like I have more opportunities to style and be experimental with my outfits. I look to Malaysian singer and songwriter Yuna for creative inspiration in printmatching and hijab styles.

I also look to menswear bloggers such as Finnish blogger Mikko Puttonen and Berlin-based photographer Georg Mallner for inspiration for my menswear designs. What are your weaknesses when it comes to shopping? I often get drawn to unique and weird pieces - such as clothing with frayed finishings or those that look old-fashioned - as I relish the challenge to style them in different ways.

I also like anything that is draped, flowy, made of leather and has interesting textures and prints.

What are your favourite pieces in your wardrobe?

A draped top I bought in Indonesia (photo 1) because it is so dramatic and I can wear it as a top or outerwear; a floral windbreaker from a thrift shop in Japan (photo 2) because it can easily make an outfit look stylish; a detachable hood from my graduation collection called Tamed Pneuma (photo 3) because I think hoods are cool and I like to have a hood option for clothes that don't have one; and a PVC jacket I bought in Japan (photo 4) because it has leather finishing but is still lightweight and thin.

Finally, my Vans moccasins (photo 5) because they're different from the brand's other lace-up sneakers.

What is your favourite splurge piece?

I don't usually splurge on clothing as I feel I can find two or three pieces that are as durable and aesthetically appealing as one high-end piece.

I'm not sure if it's considered a "splurge", but my Chelsea boots from Ecco (photo 6), which I bought in Japan last year, cost $250. Comfort is one of the most important factors in anything I wear and design, so I would spend a little bit more for a decent pair of shoes.

Is there a purchase you have regretted?

I don't really regret anything I have bought. I usually find a way to style or redesign them if possible.

What is your most recent fashion purchase?

A grey outerwear piece I bought in Malaysia (photo 7) last month for about $35. I was attracted to the frayed finishing at the hem and sleeves when I saw it.

What is the best shopping or style advice you live by?

When deciding whether to get an item or not, consider its lifespan and if you will still be wearing it in a year's time, so that you will not have to throw it out in a few months when it goes out of trend.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2016, with the headline In love with the old and frayed. Subscribe