Sifting out the crème of the crop among aspiring designers, the prestigious Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award 2022 is back again this year. This annual design competition—first conceived in 2013— is an invaluable platform for final year students pursuing their studies in the field of fashion.
In the quest to discover and nurture young talent, this talent-scouting contest not only lets emerging designers showcase their creativity, but also gives them an opportunity to exercise their business savviness at the same time.
Evaluated for their creativity, originality, commercial viability and technical ability as well as entrepreneurial acumen, the judging criteria also includes the designers’ vision for their brand and how they foresee possible expansion of the collection.
Gaining the priceless opportunity to develop their final year project into a legitimate fashion brand, the top contender will not only walk away with a prize pot of $10,000 cash, but what’s even more exciting is that he or she will also receive sponsorship for a one-year master’s degree course on the London campus of Istituto Marangoni worth £30,000 (SG$50,167).
Concurrently, the young upstart will also get the opportunity to glean valuable industry insights and draw from the experience of seasoned mentors from Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore and CHANEL Singapore in both one-on-one and group sessions.
In addition, the winning collection will also be showcased in a Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore fashion spread.
Meet the talent pool
After much deliberation, the judges shortlisted 12 semi-finalists (from LASALLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, MDIS, Polimoda in Florence, Italy, Raffles Design Institute Singapore, as well as Raffles College of Higher Education) for Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award 2022. Get to know the young designers and their innovative collections:
Collection: Arthur Chong
Inspired by how animals’ bodies adapt to different environments, Arthur Chong Yu Lin was motivated to create a collection that lets wearers adjust their outfits and switch up looks in a snap to accommodate various conditions.
“The detachable garments in my collection can be worn in different styles, depending on the weather,” explains Arthur, who envisions a range of office-ready outfits. “Every look can easily be mixed and matched, and most of the pieces can be worn both indoors and outdoors.”
Likening his concept to the metamorphosis of butterflies, his ingenious pieces are designed to mimic that adaptability through which creatures navigate the different stages of life. This is cleverly incorporated by using detachable elements in each garment which you can put on or shed off (like a cocoon or caterpillar skin) as you wish.
For instance, a cape, which is typically worn over the shoulders, will keep you cosy in a cool environment, but if the weather turns warm, simply detach it and reposition it around your waist as a skirt.
Meanwhile, for versatility, removable sleeves on a blouse can be detached to create a sleeveless look on top and re-added to the skirt as pleats. In another variation, Arthur also added adjustable pleats in skirts, so you can open them to create a wider flair or keep them closed for a tighter silhouette, depending on the occasion.
Being mindful not to go fully minimalistic, Arthur explains that this is because “I want my designs to be functional and comfortable, so that they can be worn every day with ease and convenience,” he says.
Collection: Gao Xiwen
Bold in concept and visually striking, this collection has all the hallmarks of feminine power draped in enigmatic medieval silhouettes.
Designed by Gao Xiwen, her self-named collection is curiously inspired by the witch exclusion movement in Europe from the 15th to the 18th century, where many innocent women were unjustly accused of practising witchcraft and subjected to hanging, burning and all sorts of inhumane torture.
“I was so shocked and impressed by this history that I chose it as the inspiration for my designs,” says Xiwen. “In addition, I also wanted to express the power of female resistance and women’s rights.”
Every look in her collection commands immediate attention and emanates an irresistible magnetism, thanks to their visual intensity. Think lace-up bodice corseted tops with a tight waist and short bloomers over knee-high boots, or oversized organza sleeves on a long-sleeved high-top blouse in blood red that is augmented by a knotted shawl which evokes the image of a hangman’s noose.
For those who prefer themes of black and white, Xiwen took liberties to create a brazen medieval look using large safety pins to connect various elements, including shredded black threads and dangling strips of cloth hanging from a crown of spikes fashioned out of white fabric.
Targeting young people with a streak of rebellion who are unafraid to stand out, Xiwen says she hopes her designs will gain popularity among the masses and “become a dark horse” as an international brand, as she puts it.
“I like to focus on hot topics and then expand on them to inspire my designs,” she says. “I want my designs to convey aesthetic in every way, so that people experience a strong visual impact when they see my collection.”
Clean and uncluttered are the signature characteristics of Li Xinen’s designs. Using solid colours paired with neat cuts and minimalist style, she aspires to evoke a sense of calm and tranquillity through her clothing.
Creating under the brand “LI XINEN”, her “Baptism” collection is inspired by the humanistic landscape of Tibet which features vast spaces and serene templates. Intended as an autumn/winter series, her pieces are based on Chinese clothing and recreated as its main style.
Made with soft satins, cotton, warm down and other fabrics, the harmonious and flowing tones with tidy lines reflect thoughtful calm and clarity.
“Wearing the right clothes not only boosts self-confidence, but it can also encourage inner perception and help you experience a sense of inner abundance,” says Xinen, who based her design concept on the vastness of the Tibetan landscape and the colours of the Tibetan religion.
Using cool, muted tones of taupe, grey, beige and white, with the occasional strong solid shade of red, her elegant ensembles are calm and dignified while exuding strength in quiet confidence.
“To counteract the pessimism that people experience today due to rapid social development, the theme of this series is to remind people to find a time and space for themselves to rest and think about their emotions,” says Xinen.
Having always been fascinated by the relationship between architecture and fashion, Choi Nakyeong set about marrying the concepts, techniques and strategies of building design with the fine tapestry and threads of haute couture.
“The idea that fashion is based on the shape of the human body and how the fabric is draped around it is similar in many ways to the volume and space created by a building that we inhabit,” explains Nakyeong. “Both these disciplines require similar approaches and techniques. which, at times, can create an unusual and extraordinary effect.”
No surprise then, that “unusual and extraordinary” is what Nakyeong’s “FADRACHO” collection is, featuring beautiful, billowing dresses that are truly one of a kind.
To create unique silhouettes with structural complexity and sophistication, she boldly deconstructs and recombines materials, including different types of pleated fabric, to unearth fresh looks. For instance, she assembles four different sizes and shapes of voluminous fabric to construct the front or back of each dress.
Keeping the focus on the curvature, she chose to use interlock and cotton-sateen fabrics in white, pastel pink, blue, yellow and green that do not have complex pattern fabrics, so as to avoid creating unnecessary distraction with fussy details. To create three-dimensional shapes and fabric sculptures, she used spray-on stiffeners to produce a paper-like texture.
“I love to visualise and design ready-to-wear clothes that encompass both conceptual sophistication and structural complexity,” says Nakyeong.
Collection: Spiral in Progress
Far away from home and experiencing “endless spiralling of thoughts and emotions”, Faith turned angst into art. Inspired by her reflections on the aftermath of 2020, she poured out her feelings into a series of collages that was to become the foundation for her “Spiral in Progress” collection.,
“Colours mimicking dripped or poured paint are an analogy of how thoughts and emotions were swirling in a mental melting pot,” she explains. ““A union of spirals, matched and unmatched lines, portray the idea of our constant state of restlessness and confusion, and the attachments to our lives before, during and after the pandemic.”
Using patchworking of prints and different knitting techniques, paired with fun silhouettes and vibrant colours, the creatively named pieces say it all.
There’s the Spiral Dynamic Dress with melting spiral print that is meant to be worn backwards, a Mixed Emotions Dress featuring irregular melting patchwork, a reversible padded Lucid Dreams Jacket, a Crisis Tiesis top with an asymmetrical draped ruffle knot-tie neck top, thigh-high Confused Socks with asymmetrical patchwork or Melting Paint Pants with dripped colours, just to name a few.
“Fashion is a reflection of time, and as a designer, I can create and play with the narrative of that moment,” says Faith.
Besides apparel, her collection also includes Peranakan-inspired accessories such as the Kueh Lapis Ruffles Tote Bag, Ondeh and Tingkat Bucket Bag.
Through her “Spiral in Progress” collection, Faith says she wanted to express the essence of resilience and positivity despite the craziness that took place during the pandemic.
“I wanted to show how we were learning to adjust to new emotions without compromising while finding joy and being able to have fun again,” says Faith.
Good fashion is not just about form but also function. When Pauline Nathalie Hadiputri found herself working from home during the pandemic, like everyone else, inspiration hit her. Why not create apparel that is both comfortable yet provide support in all the right places?
The pandemic had changed the way people dressed. Comfortable clothing for lounging around at home took the place of stiff office attire. Which is why Pauline’s designs are minimalistic with lots of flexibility for movement. Think loose or foldable trousers, flappy shirts, bubble vests and relaxed skirts.
While creating her collection, Pauline also took into consideration the various postures people find themselves in while working from home—be it sitting in front of a desk to lounging around on the couch or bed.
“The idea came from my own experience living at home during the lockdown,” says Pauline. “I realised that the body needs to be supported when in certain positions in order to be comfortable.”
That was how the “Solace” collection was birthed, aptly named because she wanted her loungewear to exude “comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness”.
“I drew inspiration from the postures, which can sometimes cause pain and discomfort,” she says. “I wanted to create garments that were supportive and comfortable as we spend time in front of our gadgets.”
That is why her designs feature strategically placed padding that supports parts of the body that are prone to stress, such as the neck, arms, hips, calves and torso.
Imagine comfortable padding along the forearms where you lean against the edge of your desk, or supportive padding along your hips and torso to provide support while you lie sideways on the sofa to read or watch TV. Serving dual functions, the paddings can also be removed and repurposed as pockets.
Collection: Reflection and Perspectives
Thinking out of the box, Joe Kean discarded the idea of traditional silhouettes for his collection of womenswear. Intentionally morphing and distorting proportions to create an artificial human body form, the outfits he created are designed for those who are unafraid to explore new styles and stand out from the crowd.
Noting “the small details that we overlook in our daily life as our pace of life gets faster,” Joe says he particularly drew inspiration from the different details of reflection. To create the designs for his collection, aptly named “Reflection and Perspective”, he incorporated familiar reflective elements into his garments, such as the concave and convex of the traffic mirror, the distorted reflection from the water, and the symmetrical reflection of humans and nature.
“The distorted patterns that form on a disturbed body of water or warped mirrored surfaces have been translated into proportions and linework in my collection,” says Joe. “For instance, the circular panels reflect the converging and diverging image of the focal point on a warped mirror.”
Joe also uses the concept of “mirroring”—also known as limbic synchrony—to bring his designs to life. Mirroring is the behaviour of subconsciously imitating another person’s non-verbal signals.
“The actions of ‘mirroring’ are caused by mirror neurons – microscopic structures that compels both perceptions of actions, and execution,” he explains. “These neurons subconsciously make us seek ‘reflections’ naturally.”
Drawing on the mirroring concept, the colours in each outfit intentionally reflect the preceding and succeeding garments throughout the collection through an ombré effect. For instance, the purple seen on the back of the first outfit is displayed in the front of the second outfit.
“Colours and prints also help to highlight the different shapes and silhouettes,” says Joe.
Collection: Serina Lee
Employing the principles of Chinese painting and calligraphy, Serina Lee Ying Han is breaking barriers between art and fashion with her collection. Each outfit is an original artwork hand-painted by Serina herself, designed to be both worn and displayed as wall-hanging art.
A specialist in textile design who also has a 15-year background in Chinese painting and calligraphy, Serina marries the two disciplines while creating her own design aesthetic and unique brand through her eponymous label.
“The weight of drapes, the form of the body and the textile mark-making of every piece were translated from the principles of Chinese art,” explains Serina. “The principle I work most with is triangularity, which I translate into textiles, where the prints fall into a triangular tip and the textile drapes in the form of a triangle.”
She also uses white space to enhance her designs, with each silhouette “inspired by the rhythmic movement of a brush,” she says. “I typically go for earth tones—colours that are found in nature—and I also love black and white themes.”
“I find inspiration from the transient beauty of life and take inspiration from poetry, nature and various still objects,” she says.
Each silhouette features two to three ranges, differentiated by colour and different paintings or wordings, while each piece is one of a kind, with only two to three copies at most.
“My collection combines fashion with art, and I hope to see it propel Chinese painting and calligraphy into the future,” she says.
In a world where people often express themselves through their choice of clothes, Simrita Dass has envisioned a collection of apparel that allows for customised looks through personal interpretation.
Her One.0 brand of clothing comprises universal garments that incorporate the concept of modularity—designs that consists of separate parts, yet when combined, form a complete whole.
The flexible designs not only allow you to create your preferred look in a plethora of ways, but they also accommodate different body types.
“Modularity also allows for each piece to stay relevant to changing sizes, eliminating the need for it to be discarded when it no longer fits, as it can be adapted to changing times and styles,” she adds.
Using creative pattern cutting and unique tailoring, Simrita’s flexible construction-based designs provide an experiential journey in contemporary styles for discerning consumers.
“I have a minimalistic approach to designing detailed garments and like to explore unique design concepts as well as a mix of colours,” she says. “I aim to create interactive experiences through concepts of transformability and modularity.”
This modular flexibility in refashioning various elements also encourages “rewear” and emphasises the idea of “less is more”, which helps to minimise the fashion footprint by extending the life cycle of each garment.
Drawing from childhood memories of repairing broken porcelain in her hometown in China, Li Wentong conceived the idea of combining knitted fabrics and woven fabrics for her “SHAN(缮)” collection, which means “to repair” in Mandarin.
“I was inspired by my hometown’s traditional craft of ‘curium porcelain’, which means using flat metal nails to put broken porcelain back together,” says Wentong. “I used this technique as a starting point to imagine putting different sizes or shapes together, which is how the inspiration for my collection came about.”
From colourful coats and oversized sweaters to striking wool tops and organza vests, Wentong’s knitwear pieces showcase an eye-catching patchwork of colour blocks and patterns, designed to make a bold fashion statement.
Constructed with fabrics and yarns that are made of organic and natural materials, each piece in her seasonless menswear collection is created with exaggerated silhouettes and creative patterns. Her colour palette of mainly yellow and green hues is also inspired by the tea leaf glaze and are created using dyes made with seeds and flowers.
“I used traditional Chinese natural dyes in the collection. After several dyeing experiments, I chose gardenia fruit and saffron as the dyes for the yellow and orange colours. The yellow and orange colours were then added with indigo dye to get dark green and reddish-brown,” she explains.
“For the details, I embroidered metal spring wire on the surface to simulate the marks of porcelain restoration.”
Fashioned with sustainable and low-pollution production processes, including hand-knitting, machine-knitting and crochet techniques, the eco-friendly collection is intended to be fashionable yet functional all year around.
“I do not subscribe to the concept of seasonal trends as it leads to consumption and waste,” says Wentong, who hopes to establish a responsible slow fashion brand with personality through her SHAN(缮) collection.
Collection: D’arker than D’arkness
If you like sensual and edgy outfits, the all-black full-length garments in Sit Shi Jie’s “D’arker than D’arkness” collection will be right up your alley. Featuring clean contours and accentuated waistlines, the asymmetrically-cut silhouettes also showcase extended layered flares that create room for flow and fluidity.
“I like to work around the form of the body — creating contouring seamlines and draping fabric along the body in a way that it falls effortlessly, by playing with the curves and bias of the fabric,” explains Shi Jie.
Created under her brand Senritsu (戦慄旋律), her design aesthetics revolves around both the themes of “dread (戦慄)” and “melody (旋律)”, which harness the romanticism of the unknown and the mysterious.
“Melody is represented through the fluidity of drapes and organic flow of highs and lows,” she says.
Made with floral jacquard, satin crepe, anti-wrinkle cotton, lycra and corduroy, her designs take on a deconstructed look that are a result of creative pattern-cutting and draping techniques. Finessed with raw seams and finishings as well as the incorporation of scrap fabrics, each outfit also includes raw and frayed details to yield interesting compositions.
“With these raw visuals, they are balanced out and controlled with technical aspects, such as clean stitching details as well as cording to add textural feel and accentuate the seamlines, not to mention hand-stitched details,” says Shi Jie.
To maximise the use of fabric, zero/less waste techniques are also incorporated with careful consideration of pattern placements.
Collection: CHAPTER I Spring-Summer 2023
Crystals and glass beads take centre stage in the ethereal collection of clothing and accessories by Sheila Tjandra. With more than 20,000 crystals and glass beads adorning the entire collection of “CHAPTER 1 Spring-Summer 2023″—from flowing long dresses to short sleeveless numbers, including gloves, hats and bags—these designs exude exclusivity and luxury on a lilting palette of soft colours.
“The looks in this collection have a feminine style,” says Sheila. “I used soft and natural colours combined with luxury natural materials, as these are what reflect my brand’s identity.”
Specialising in textiles for fashion and draping, Sheila often embodies maximalism in her designs employing techniques such as handcrafting, embroidery, dyeing and printmaking. Inspired by a the pressing environmental issues of today, she also wanted to create a sustainable collection using natural materials, including a range of natural dyes.
“As designers, we should be mindful and conscious of how we embed beauty and longevity through fashion, creating things from nature that can go back to nature through craft and textile,” she says.
“Indigo, red cabbage, turmeric and beetroot are the natural ingredients I used to achieve the colouring I want,” explains Sheila. “Other techniques such as pressing flowers and dip-dye are also used, along with different recipes of mordanting.”
To create the soft, gradient look, the dyes are absorbed by the thread that flows inside the beaded garment. The fabrics she uses include pure Tencel, cotton silk and silk organza, premium satin silk, satin viscose and viscose filament.
“Glass beads and crystals are the main characters in this chapter which define the luxury and beauty of nature,” says Sheila. “That is because the purpose of the transparent crystal and glass is to allow the dyes to be seen.”