The who’s who of Asian couture showcased their best the recent fashion festival in Singapore.
It was only fitting that a fashion festival would open with the industry’s most promising star, and close with its most revered.
For Audi Fashion Festival (AFF), Prabal Gurung was the opening act, while legendary couturier Oscar de la Renta provided its conclusion.
Touted as Singapore’s annual premier fashion event, AFF powered into 2014 as a fully independent and privately funded fashion week.
Organised by Mercury Marketing & Communications, the festival – held in mid-May – returned to the heart of fashion, Orchard Road.
This year’s festival, held at Ngee Ann City and themed The Art Of Progress, saw Hollywood actress (and SK-II ambassador) Kate Bosworth gracing its final night. Also in attendance was chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designer of America (CFDA), Steven Kolb.
“Singapore’s fashion festival has come a long way and we’re thrilled to continue contributing to Singapore’s progress as a fashion capital,” said festival director Tjin Lee.
“This year marks the beginning of a new chapter for AFF. The festival has grown to international recognition and six years on, AFF is now a fully independent and privately funded festival and we’re very excited to be back better than ever.
She added: “We are proud to present our largest showcase of homegrown and Asian designers at AFF 2014, as we continue to provide a platform for emerging designers to present alongside the best in the international arena.”
Alongside AFF, Blueprint 2014 – touted as Asia’s Fashion Gateway – was held at Suntec City Convention Centre. In its fifth edition, Blueprint offered trade visitors, industry insiders and shoppers an all-round experience; this year, it launched a children’s wear category. These are the highlights from AFF:
In line with this year’s theme, the festival opened for the first time with an Asian designer. Who better for this honour than Singapore-born, Nepalese-American designer Prabal Gurung?
Making his first return to the Lion City, Gurung’s Fall 2014 pays homage to New York-based British contemporary painter Cecily Brown. Hence, it is awash with warm hues and paintbrush tapestry effects reflecting the Himalayan landscape.
Sumptuous knits, plush furs and everything in between were highlighted by beautiful draping. The rich crimson looks were a nod to Nepal’s national colours and the draping brought to mind robes worn by monks.
Models were sent down the runway bundled up in scarves, chiffon skirts and woven sweaters. As they walked, their ankle bands jingled to create light tribal rhythms.
Gurung’s latest creations are the culmination of almost five years in the fashion industry since launching his eponymous line in 2009.
“I wanted to take time to understand what I stood for,” he was quoted as saying in a media interview. “What really struck me was the beauty and elegance in the women, in spite of all the challenges geographically. I wanted to bring that to the world.”
Clad in his signature look of a white V-neck T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, he was a big hit in Singapore, mobbed by journalists and adoring tai tais wherever he went.
Obviously, the hard-working Gurung, who won the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear in 2011, deserves a respite. In a brief chat backstage, he revealed to the Malaysian press that he was headed for a vacation in Langkawi. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that his next collection will be inspired by Malaysian beaches.
Singapore-born, London-based designer Ashley Isham debuted his menswear capsule alongside his Fall/Winter womenswear line. Supermodel (and SK-II ambassador) Godfrey Gao strutted for the former, nearly stealing the thunder from Ashley’s showcase.
Inspired by the idyllic English countryside and couture shapes from the 1950s and 60s, it’s all about delicately handcrafted and hand-draped pieces. They are juxtaposed with razor-sharp tailoring to create sophisticated designs with a feminine silhouette – think daywear in the form of silk georgettes segueing into hand embroidery and hand-appliqued lace eveningwear.
Fabrics are in the form of luxurious tweeds, jacquards, silk organza and exquisite crystal embroidery.
Kuala Lumpur native Priscilla Shunmugam, who is now based in our southern neighbour, showcased her brand’s modern reinterpretations of the traditional Asian dress. The designer launched her first ready-to-wear collection in 2010 and focuses on layers of Asian aesthetic, textile and sartorial history in her creations.
The label has received the Grand Award at the Design for Asian Awards 2013. Commited to helping women discover their origins through their wardrobe, Priscilla once again broke the boundaries of stereotypes linked to Asian dressing. At her AFF showcase, she created contemporary incarnations by pairing age-old prints with Western fabrics and details.
One of the first designers to pioneer new ground in the Singaporean fashion scene, Wong continues to celebrate timeless design with a new collection from his label Saturday. It’s best summed up in two words: colourful and unexpected. His collection “challenges the expected to create the unexpected”. Experimenting with new forms and structures, Wong examines irregular shapes in relation to the movement of the body. Overall, the line offers cool additions to a modern woman’s wardrobe.
No one does quirky fashion like Jo Soh, a designer synonymous with funky eyewear and edgy hairdos. Her latest collection for Hansel comprises retro-inspired pieces, inspired by fairy lights that blend a sense of playfulness with understated minimalism.
Picture a monochrome colour scheme accentuated by multi-coloured lights for a dramatic effect. It’s like a cross between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry; a cuteness that can be borderline saccharine.
Oscar de la Renta
Our initial disappointment that the fashion maven was unable to fly to Singapore dissipated as his glamorous dresses hit the runway.
After launching his signature ready-to-wear label in 1965, de la Renta’s empire has grown to encompass a bridal collection, beauty line, home collection, children’s wear and a complete range of accessories, from handbags to shoes and jewellery. Accolades under his belt include several CFDA Designer of the Year awards, as well as a CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award.
His Fall collection features 1920s flapper-styled gems and prom-ready gowns with ruched bodies and full, flouncy skirts. Malaysian top model Tinie – featured consistently throughout AFF evening shows – looked especially regal.
The audience collectively went “Awww” as two pint-sized flower girls shyly strolled down the catwalk. They were escorting a bride dressed like a fairytale princess for her big day.