Months of gruelling hard work and mentoring workshops to perfect their collections have led our three finalists closer to the final stages of the Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award. Held on 5 August, in partnership with Swarovski and Zalora, the local judging of the competition saw Rena Kok, Joanne Quak and Zoey Zhao presenting their designs to our esteemed panel of judges, which included BAZAAR’s Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Goh; Swarovski Head of Fashion, Corporate Branding and Communication Asia Pacific India Plumbly; Singaporean fashion designer Lai Chan; Zalora Group Director of Brand Communications Christopher Daguimol; and social media influencer cum fashion entrepreneur Yoyo Cao.
And the stakes could not have been higher for the finalists to impress the judges with their creative vision, diligent dedication and business acumen: Only two of the three will be representing Singapore in the regional leg of the competition come end October. There, they’ll compete against representatives from Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand for the chance to walk away with a $10,000 cash prize and sponsorship for a Masters Degree at Istituto Marangoni worth $50k. (The runner-ups will receive sponsored short courses at the same institution worth $6,500.)
First up was MDIS graduate Zoey Zhao, whose ‘Concrete Jungle’ collection merged architecture, sculpture and fashion for urbane designs that served as a commentary on the chaos and confusion in hidden in modern life. Then, LASALLE College of the Arts graduate Rena Kok took to the stage with her technology-led ‘Prequel’ collection, complete with designs that featured Augmented Reality (AR). Last but not least was Joanne Quak, another LASALLE College of the Arts graduate whose ‘An Heir’ collection recreated the grace and whimsy of the dying art of lion dance in Singapore.
After much careful deliberation, the judges made their difficult decisions: Zoey Zhao was named the competition’s first runner-up, while Rena Kok’s cutting-edge designs saw her emerge victorious. Of her win she says: “I feel humbled and grateful to be awarded as the winner. But I know there’s much room for improvement, and I’m looking forward to being mentored by the judges and polishing up everything to the best of my ability.”
“I was really proud and excited by this year’s winners. They each brought such difference to the table and managed to capture elements that came from the digital realm, from their urban surrounding and from their own cultural idiosyncrasies. What really stood out for me was the careful and deliberate incorporation of different elements, technology and disciplines that Rena brought to the table. That is the making of a winner, being able to think outside the box and engage with other artists and collaborators to produce a collection that’s uniquely 21st century. Rena’s construction was superb, her use of materials exciting and innovative and most of all, her eagerness to learn and constantly better herself. I can’t wait to see what our designers will do when they are up against all the regional winners in October this year! Watch this space!” says Kenneth Goh.
Click through the gallery for an inside look at what went down:
Photographer: Ashley Mak
Stylist: Debby Kwong
Stylist assistants: Ievan Darwin and Beverly Tan
Models: NU Models
BAZAAR NewGen 2019 is held in collaboration with Swarovski
Supported by ZALORA
Official makeup partner: NARS
Official hair partner: Jeric Salon