Fashion Week kicks off with a Singapore flair

The three-day Singapore Fashion Week 2017 opened yesterday at the National Gallery Singapore with a collection by local designer Goh Lai Chan.
The three-day Singapore Fashion Week 2017 opened yesterday at the National Gallery Singapore with a collection by local designer Goh Lai Chan.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Veteran fashion designer Goh Lai Chan opened Singapore Fashion Week (SGFW) last night with a distinctively Singaporean show.

The 55-year-old, known for his dramatic theatre costumes and signature cheongsam, showcased 24 contemporary pieces with distinct Chinese, Peranakan, Indian and Malay influences at the event held at the National Gallery Singapore.

Created specifically for SGFW, the collection included a mini denim cape with Peranakan-inspired embroidery and a yellow sari-like top paired with a bold red batik skirt.

The pieces, said the Singaporean founder of eponymous boutique Laichan, will not be for sale but will be kept as part of a personal archive. However, customers can have them made to order.

His was one of three shows held yesterday, out of a total of 13 over the three-day event.

Another headliner is New York-based fashion designer Jason Wu, who will make his runway debut in Asia tomorrow.

This year, the focus is on Asian designers, with more than 50 from 11 Asian countries featured, up from 40 from five Asian countries last year.

Mirroring other fashion weeks worldwide, it will also place a greater emphasis on modest fashion, with three shows featuring established modest-wear designers from the region, including Malaysia's Jovian Mandagie and Indonesia's Dian Pelangi.


For the first time, there will also be a series of technology talks. Over days two and three, speakers including Zalora Group chief executive officer Parker Gundersen and Goldman Sachs senior vice-president Andy Tai will speak on the business and technology of fashion.

The annual show, organised by marketing and communications agency Mercury M&C, has also been cut to three days this year, the first time in the show's 11-year history.

"In this age of digital disruption, fashion weeks need to adapt, change and reinvent to stay relevant and sustainable," SGFW chairman Tjin Lee said in a statement.

She added: "Singapore is a small country with a population of only 5.5 million, so it is incredibly difficult for local designers to grow and scale in such a small market, compared to our regional neighbours, who are at least five to 40 times our size.

"We should play to our strengths, which would lead us to the natural evolution towards thought leadership, business investment opportunities, networking and the business of fashion."

Yesterday, the collections of six emerging designers from Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand also hit the runway as they battled it out for the Harper's Bazaar Asia NewGen Fashion Award 2017, a platform for up-and-coming talents.

The Singaporean winner, Temasek Polytechnic school of design graduate Phua Chun Huen, 24, was awarded a scholarship for a master's degree at the prestigious Istituto Marangoni, an Italian fashion and design school, together with $10,000 cash and $15,000 worth of Swarovski crystals.

The opening night - which attracted an estimated 1,200 guests, including Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, and Trade and Industry Sim Ann - ended with a joint runway show.

The joint show by local designers Goh Ling Ling, founder of bag label Ling Wu, and Gin Lee, founder of womenswear brand Ginlee Studio, featured a muted colour palette of neutral shades on feminine and layered silhouettes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2017, with the headline 'Fashion Week kicks off with a S'pore flair'. Print Edition | Subscribe