22-year-old Silvia Teh may be reserved and quiet but she speaks loudest through her BAZAAR Asia New Generation Fashion Designer Award collection of bright colours and clashing prints. The fresh-faced fashion merchandising and marketing student from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, who started doodling fashion illustrations and wearing her own creations since she has 14, designs a refreshing Javanese-meets-Japanese printed collection.

The idea behind the collection.
A close friend was in Japan for vacation and got to know about Japanese woodblock printing. When he returned, he introduced his experience to me. Woodblock printing, popular during the Edo Period of 1603-1867, usually depict images of famous geishas, sumo wrestlers and actors. I’ve also always liked the richness of Javanese culture—their art, colours, prints and music are so representative of their culture so I thought merging Japanese woodblock printing with Javanese prints will be interesting.
What makes the collection fresh?
The silhouettes. I like the idea of a dress which is poufy at the front and flat at the back. I also created holographic effects by overlaying organza onto printed fabric to create movement on the piece when it’s being worn.

Silvia Teh is deeply inspired by the rich heritage of Javanese historical and present-day traditions
Silvia Teh is deeply inspired by the rich heritage of Javanese historical and present-day traditions

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What was the best advice you’ve recieved from the mentors?
I tend to go overboard with my colours and prints and I sometimes find it difficult to understand a good balance. The judges have advised me to cut down on design details, because that can clutter and kill my original direction, and adopt new modern perspectives. I’m still trying to practise that and I need to constantly remind myself not to create costumes.
What was your favourite experience participating in this competition?
There’s nothing like a real experience in the fashion industry with veterans who taught us about creating editorially yet commercially strong designs. It’s so unlike what I’ve learnt in school.

Coat; top; skirt, Silvia Teh. Earring, H&M
Coat; top; skirt, Silvia Teh. Earring, H&M

What the judges said:
“Silvia has great talent in print development but is lacking exposure to what’s modern and commercial in the fashion industry. But her forte is evident. She’s great at developing fabrics and experimenting prints, handiworks and has interesting mixtures of ideas that not many young designers in Singapore has. All she needs is some fine-tuning and I’m sure we can see better designs from Silvia in future.”
—Debra Langley, CEO and founder of Inverted Edge