As a player in an industry driven by newness and the winds of change, it has always been vital for BAZAAR to nurture the next generation of talent and provide a platform for the visions that will shape fashion’s future in this region and beyond.
One of the biggest initiatives the magazine has launched in this regard is the Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award, which, since its launch in 2013, has grown into a hotly watched showcase of the region’s brightest rising design stars.
Due to the unprecedented circumstances of this year, the 2020 edition of the competition had to be shelved, but BAZAAR remains committed to its role as fashion mentor and authority. Now more than ever, it is increasingly important to help amplify the message that the voices of tomorrow want to put out into the world. As such, we enlisted two past Singaporean winners of the programme and guided them in the production of a capsule collection of four full looks each that, through a partnership with the Textile and Fashion Federation, will be sold exclusively at online marketplace One Orchard Store from January 2021 and then at Design Orchard in February 2021.
Kok won the local chapter of last year’s NewGen competition with her clever balance of futuristic innovation and commercial viability. For her 2020 capsule collection, she wanted to convey a sense of physicality, specifically of the activities in which she threw herself into when the world went on pause. Inspired by her bouts of running and boxing, the designer wanted to project empowerment through this capsule. As such, she cut silhouettes to accentuate the body and emphasised or revealed the area where the lungs are, as a subtle reminder to take a breather. She also mimicked the effect of perspiration with the use of silver beading.
“What I want to convey is a sense of comfort and a feeling of fluidity,” says Kok. To achieve that, she looked at wardrobe staples with a fresh eye, placing them in new contexts via a careful deliberation of details. Elsewhere, Kok also made bolder designs palatable with concessions to wearability. These translated into pieces such as a button-down shirt with artful drapes and folds, a full skirt twisted just so, a sleeveless top glistening with the sheen of latex, and a fire-engine red number that juxtaposes structure with swish.
Since winning the Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award in 2015, Teh has been steadily growing a business built on her quiet vision of feminine power. She operates outside the traditional fashion calendar of spring/summer and fall/winter seasons, opting instead for trans-seasonal drops. Even so, she found fashion’s pace to be relentless and when the pandemic forced the world into a temporary halt, she began to ruminate on her early days in the industry and her entry into fashion—via a bespoke venture making handcrafted ribbons.
That contemplation became the starting point for her NewGen capsule. “The first garment I ever designed was a dress I made for myself for senior prom—a red mini dress with a bare back and a big bow at the back of the waist. All I wanted then was to graduate high school fast so I could pursue my dreams. In hindsight, the bow was like a pair of wings—setting me free to do the things I love,” says Teh.
With these new pieces, Teh riffed on that bow as well as the feeling of freedom and the happy nostalgia of those early years. However, she made sure not to be overly literal—favouring instead the subtlety and sophistication for which her clientele has come to know her. She reinterpreted the bow into sash belts that cinch the waist, creating silhouettes that play on the concept of restrain and release. Cape backs add a sense of quiet drama and for the first time since launching her brand, Teh worked with print—an impactful realisation of the joyfulness and newness she wanted to capture in this collection.