BAZAAR Academy Students Channel Chanel In Their Respective Practices
Photo: Zoey Zhao

Last October, Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore flew a select group of students to Paris to experience firsthand the spectacle of one of the largest fashion shows in the world, visit the ateliers of haute couture, and fully absorb the rich heritage of the legendary 110-year-old House. Two of the spots were reserved for the local finalists of BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award 2019 competition, Rena Kok and Zoey Zhao, while the remaining three were opened up to students of other fashion and art disciplines at LASALLE College of the Arts. The winning entries—comprising essays and portfolios of their work—came from Navin Pillay, a student of Fashion Media and Industries; Chok Si Xuan and Sarah Lin, both Fine Art Students.

Their journey of discovering the sublime world of haute couture in the city that does it best, culminated back home in Singapore where the students got to work interpreting their experiences via their respective disciplines. From animated sculptures to literary renditions and fashion works of art, we detail the students’ marvellous creations below.

Rena Kok, Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award 2019 Second Runner-Up

Rena Kok's Post-Trip Creation

LASALLE College of the Arts alumna and Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award 2019 second runner-up Rena Kok created a fitted masque out of sinamay—a fabric resembling the tweed used by artisans at the Maison Lemarié to create camellia brooches, which Kok witnessed during her visit there. The masque, which covers half of the face, also extends past the forehead like a canopy, complete with clean handbound finishings. As a loosely woven fabric, sinamay is highly permeable in nature—a characteristic that makes the accessory both functional and polarising, because it doesn’t compromise the wearer’s vision. 

“Witnessing the magic of Chanel’s spring summer 2020 show at the Grand Palais was enlivening. Reminiscent of the beaux-arts interior of the building, the dome-like structure of the masque animates the ginormous convex roof of the historic site. The three curvatures in the masque, above the forehead, were inspired by the skeleton-like green tubes and metal columns supporting the array of glass panels”. — Rena Kok

Related article: BAZAAR Academy: We’ll Always Have Paris

Zoey Zhao, Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award 2019 finalist

Taking cues from the House’s codes, MDIS graduate and Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award 2019 finalist Zoey Zhao created a series of animated illustrations, depicting a world of Chanel. Indeed, Zhao’s visit to Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment on 31 Rue Cambon, with the rest of the BAZAAR Academy students, left quite an impression on her—as shown in her artistic rendition of Chanel’s remarkable mirror-lined spiral staircase.  

“I combined what I saw at Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment with elements from Virginie Viard’s spring/ summer 2020 runway show to create my animated illustration. My intention was to convey that the French House is more that just a fashion brand, and that it’s also about Coco Chanel who has had a positive impact of many designers. She is a symbol and a source of inspiration”. — Zoey Zhao

Related article: NewGen 2020: You Could Be The Next Big Fashion Designer

Chok Si Xuan, Fine Arts Student

LASALLE College of the Arts’ fine arts student Chok Si Xuan toyed with the idea of relationships—a concept she talks about in her video, as she explains the process of how she derived her final concept of creating an animated 3D sculpture resembling camellias, an iconic motif associated with Chanel. 

The flowering signifies transformation, and movement to another state, and with the industrialised parts, to sort of mimic the organic processes of a blooming flower, but also reveal the processes required to aid in this growth, which I think is akin to my experience in this programme.” — Chok Si Xuan 

Related article: Fashion Forces: The BAZAAR Asia NewGen 2019 Finalists Take Modern Design To New Heights

Sarah Lin, Fine Arts Student

Taking inspiration from Gabrielle Chanel’s appropriation of the fisherman’s jackets and sailor’s jackets in her early work, fine arts student Sarah Lin fashioned a garment out of a tarpaulin—a material commonly associated with construction work. Her concept finely references the use of unconventional materials in high fashion, as Chanel once did with tweed.  

I wanted to marry these two fascinations of mine, culminating them into an artful garment that would express my sentiments of tarpaulin combined with the symbolisms associated with the Chanel suit silhouette. I also wanted to explore the intersection between commonly used items (the jacket and tarpaulin) as well as their significance in different cultural settings. In doing so, I hoped to recognise the political and social factors that influence visual culture in fashion—hence, I decided on showcasing finished garment in a photo series, set against a construction site.” — Sarah Lin

Navin Pillay, Fashion Media & Industries Student

Fashion Media & Industries student Navin Pillay took cues from French dailies and Chanel’s brand codes to create what he calls a two-in-one brochure and poster. The folding of the brochure, from an A2-sized document to an A5-sized treeware, is his interpretation of the mirror-lined spiral staircases at Gabrielle Chanel’s 31 Rue Cambon apartment. Through the design, written articles and layout of photographs taken by him, Pillay explores not only the visual language of Chanel, but the concepts of communication and transformation as well. 

My brochure-and-poster was designed using Adobe InDesign. It is A2-size when fully opened as a poster, and A5-size when folded as a brochure. I used photographs I took and colour graded to act as reflections of my time spent in Paris, with accompanying texts. I decided to have the front and back of the brochure to be in black and white, which are two of the five symbolic colours associated with Chanel.” — Navin Pillay