Asians rule the runway in Singapore Fashion Week 2016

Singaporean Max Tan was one of two designers who opened Singapore Fashion Week at the National Gallery yesterday. The other show, also at the event's main stage, was by Chinese designer Guo Pei.
Singaporean Max Tan was one of two designers who opened Singapore Fashion Week at the National Gallery yesterday. The other show, also at the event's main stage, was by Chinese designer Guo Pei.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Record number of designers from region, including S'pore, will show off creations

Singapore Fashion Week 2016 kicked off yesterday evening with a new twist - an all-new Asian focus, more local names, retail elements and a new venue.

Of the event's 22 shows, 20 feature Asian designers - the first time such a large crop has been selected. Last year, there were only eight.

Renowned Chinese designer Guo Pei's 45-minute show - one of two held yesterday - opened the five-day event's main stage at the National Gallery Singapore with a 34-piece collection that made tassels, embroidered trains and brocade look wearable and tasteful.

The Beijing-based designer's show was what many might call a departure from her trademark maximalist glamour: Her canary-yellow fur-trimmed gown worn by American singer Rihanna to last year's Met Gala had mixed reviews, with some giving it the thumbs up and others likening it to an omelette.

Speaking to The Straits Times before her show, Guo, 49, said she hopes to widen her fan base here: "My hope for this show is that my work will be recognised not just by the fashion industry or trade, but by the people of Singapore because I like Singapore and I hope they will like me back too."


Other Asian acts include Indian- American designer Naeem Khan, whose dresses have been worn by United States First Lady Michelle Obama and who will show on Saturday; and Thai actress and singer Sheranut "Namcha" Yusananda, who will unveil her trendy label Sheranut today.

  • 22 Number of shows in Singapore Fashion Week

    20 Number of Asian designers taking part

    13 Number of home-grown designers

This year's event also has more of a local bent, with 13 home-grown names, its highest number yet. Last year, there were just seven. And in 2009, when the current organisers took over the event, only four out of 11 shows were by Singaporeans.

One local name, designer Max Tan - known for his exaggerated silhouettes - raised the curtain on the event's other stage, at the Auditorium Foyer, a few levels down from Guo's show yesterday, with monochrome creations on models sporting black bowl haircuts.

Local designer Priscilla Shunmugam, who founded Ong Shunmugam, will show her modern interpretation of cheongsams on Saturday. Tomorrow, three other local labels will take the stage: Aijek with its contemporary lace pieces; Chi Chi Von Tang's bright, Asian-inspired Anime collection; and Exhibit with its minimalist outfits.

Closing the festival on Sunday are Malaysia-born designer Han Chong of popular London-based label Self-Portrait, with its signature feminine and lace dresses - and local women's shoe designer Mashizan Masjum, whose work has been spotted on American celebrities Solange Knowles and La Toya Jackson.

For the first time, shoppers can buy selected local designs seen on the festival's runways immediately. They are available at online retailer as well as at the SGFW & Co pop-up at the National Gallery.

It is also the first time that the event was held at the National Gallery Singapore. In most years, it has been held under a large tent outside Ngee Ann City in Orchard Road.

Tan, the founder of local label Max.Tan, said: "I feel really excited, the show went really well and everything went as planned. Just hearing the feedback about the show has been really amazing. I was told that the androgynous feel is a very stark contrast to Guo Pei's show."

In the audience, Ms Diana Quinn, 42, who flew in from Kuala Lumpur, said Tan's segment was "amazing". "The designs are very structured but this time, there are things I haven't seen before," said the African-British management consultant.

Another guest, Ms Olivia Lazuardy, 23, a fashion blogger from Indonesia, liked the Guo Pei show: "It was super great - the fringing, beading and embroidery."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2016, with the headline 'Asians rule the runway in Fashion Week 2016'. Print Edition | Subscribe