The Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award was launched in 2013 with the simple aim of unearthing the region’s best fashion talents. Since then, it has crowned four winners; each one walking away with the coveted title after impressing the judges with a unique display of design savviness and business acumen. After graduating from a one-year master’s degree course in Fashion and Luxury Brand Management at Istituto Marangoni, the designers have each gone on to carve a niche for themselves: 2016’s winner William Utama, for example, has amassed a cult following for his experimental take on urban dressing. And with the digital revolution disrupting fashion’s system, the competition has also become an invaluable platform that lets young designers cut through all the clutter and noise, and make their voices heard.
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Backed by Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, and other editions in the region, as well as partners Swarovski and Zalora (both key players in their respective fields), the competition is a once-in-a-lifetime shot at success. The stakes are high for the Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award 2018, but Singapore’s trio of Ang Hui En, Julian Cheong and Andrew Low have demonstrated their potential. “I think that this year’s contestants have so much to live up to as Singapore’s Phua Chun Huen won last year,” observed Kenneth Goh, Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, who has taken on the role of mentor alongside esteemed designer Lai Chan. “But we have great talents who have shown their maturity over the course of the competition.” The trio ensured a closely contested fight by exploring a diverse range of ideas in their works. It’s especially apt, considering fashion’s role in dressing the women of today. Goh added: “I think the young designers of today no longer desire to just be the next big fashion designer—they also want to make an impact beyond the cloth.”
It’s obvious from the ways Low has clashed prints and combined colourful embroidery with the refinement of plush textiles that his thought processes don’t run in a linear fashion. “Be it big or small, I’m inspired by the things happening around me,” he said. “I’m also fascinated by the process of turning a two-dimensional idea or sketch into a tangible product. Seeing the end result come to life before my eyes is always a satisfying experience.” The 27-year-old from Raffles College of Higher Education sealed his victory by conjuring a sartorial dreamscape filled with a myriad of references, whether Victorian ruffles reimagined as sleek details on sophisticated blouses, or masculine military gear reworked into womanly outerwear pieces.
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Helmut Newton’s 1966 picture of an androgynous woman clad in Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking ranks high on the list of iconic photographs that continue to shape fashion’s landscape. Like many designers before her, 22-year-old Cheong was also drawn to the timelessness of the picture. But instead of taking the route of reinterpreting the tuxedo, the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts student chose to build a collection centred around another detail in Newton’s picture—the cigarette. Utilising her eye for form, proportion and fabrication to full effect, Cheong delivered a showing that featured graphic slogans and an abstract tartan print inspired by tobacco leaves emblazoned across cropped jackets, pleated skirts and oversized coats.
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Ang Hui En
The scenes of a movie or the pages of a book often play an important role in informing Ang’s designs. “They paint stories,” the 21-year-old Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts student mused. “Similarly, I’d like to tell stories through my designs.” It comes as no surprise then that inspiration struck while Ang was immersed in the world found within Velocity, a thriller written by acclaimed author Dean Koontz. She let her imagination run wild and translated the novel’s ominous themes into lightweight coats and crisp shirting pieces, then decorated her garments with straps that riffed on straitjackets.
Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award’s official makeup partner is NARS and official hair partner is Toni&Guy
Photographer: Tan Wei Te
Stylist: Windy Aulia
Model: Heny B/Ave
Makeup: Manisa Tan
Hair: Ken Hong
In collaboration with Swarovski and supported by Zalora