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New Gen Z-Curated Exhibit Asks, “What Is Singapore Fashion”?

What is Singapore fashion? The first iteration of the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM)’s #SGFASHIONNOW showcase – a collaboration with LASALLE College of the Arts’ School of fashion, and the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF) – explored the concept by reinterpreting the design of cheongsams, kebayas, and other traditional costumes.

This year’s edition, which was also curated by a team of Gen Z fashion students, revisits the question with a new theme: Architecture of Drape.

If you’re wondering what that means, consider the draping and wrapping required in the sarong, the sari, and the hijab. Then take a look at the ensembles below. In each of them, local designers navigate parallels between architecture and fashion by experimenting with shapes and with fabric manipulation.  

The result is a showcase that 1) celebrates the diversity of Singapore via a diversity of designs, and 2) that gives a platform to both established and emerging designers. Ultimately, it “imagines the Singapore fashion industry as a construction site, for it is an ongoing project.”

In other words, rather than giving definitive answers, #SGFASHIONNOW invites visitors to have a conversation about Singapore fashion – it’s a work in progress, much like our individual identities, and our identity as a nation.

Check out some of the designs here:

Maison THOMASWEE - One-seam shift dress, Collection of Thomas Wee.Image courtesy of Asian Civilisations Museum

Fun Fact: While designing this dress, "King of Jacket" Thomas Wee eliminated all the elements he considers unnecessary, such as zips, buttons, hooks, belts, and joints, until all that was left was a piece of fabric and a single seam.

Read more about this piece here

LABAL - Axon, Collection of LABAL.Image courtesy of Asian Civilisations Museum

Fun Fact: Labal designer Latika Balachander was inspired by the skin's natural folds, as well as its droopiness and sagginess, while creating this piece. 

Read more about this piece here

Bryan Yeo - Ave, Regina Coelorum, upcycled calico dress, wooden frame turned stutable kneeling pedestal, from collection of Bryan Yeo.Image courtesy of Asian Civilisations Museum

Fun Fact: Inspired by his mother's relationship with Catholicism, designer Bryan Yeo created an ensemble that could function as a portable praying altar. 

Read more about this piece here

Shawna Wu - Butterfly knot harness halter, unfolding double cup corset, unfolding double cup slip.Image courtesy of Asian Civilisations Museum

Fun Fact: The butterfly knots at the halter pay homage to the Chinese legend, 'Butterfly Lovers'. 

Read more about this piece here

JONMAXGOH - Glitch moire vanishing organza open-back kebaya, from collection of Jon Max Goh.Image courtesy of Asian Civilisations Museum

Fun Fact: Singapore Stories 2021 winner, Jon Max Goh, created this garment as a futuristic, androgynous take on the form of a kebaya. 

Read more about this piece here

Closet Children - The Iron Maiden, Collection of Closet Children.Image courtesy of Asian Civilisations Museum

Fun Fact: This lace-like chainmail mask, designed by Closet Children's Rachael Cheong, draws inspiration from the iron maiden, a medieval torture device. 

Read more about this piece here

Charles & Keith - Lucile platform calf boots.Image courtesy of Asian Civilisations Museum

Fun Fact: Look closely and you'll notice that the Lucile Platform Calf Boots from Charles & Keith are comprised of two parts: an inner piece that can be worn as socks, and a pair of sandals as the outer piece.

Read more about this piece here

#SGFASHIONNOW is currently being showcased at the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) until 16 October, 2022

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