Kindred Spirits
Female Singapore|April 2021
From a platform connecting charities and social causes with creatives to a design studio which has mushrooms (yes, fungi) as its primary medium, the eight emerging creative names spotlighted here share the same pursuit as us: challenge the way people see and think.
Keng Yang Shuen

SAINT GRAAL

WHAT: Started by Singapore-based students Yuan Kun (left), Kendrick Choo (middle) and Edward Soh (right) – the first two major in fashion media; the last, business management – this year-old accessories label is dedicated to the trio’s one shared passion: leather.

WHY: It’s a deeply supple and primordial vision that they have for the material. Wallets come with a raised, tactile imprint akin to bulging veins while the hems of bag flaps are left raw and asymmetrical. The hardware meanwhile is almost always industrial and matte. Creating these pieces is a tedious process. Take for example how the white designs in its Spring/Summer 2021 collection – inspired by the literature of Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin – are created by hand-painting each one with ash. (They decline to reveal what was burnt in order to produce it.) Everything from marketing to production is done in-house and the overall effect is irreverent (a post on its Instagram account @saintgraal_ features a miniature bag in the palm of a sushi chef). The message: These are cool kids in the know. Fans of the darkly romantic aesthetic of labels such as Ann Demeulemeester and Haider Ackermann consider this your new holy grail (which, by the way, is what their name means in French).

DENISE CHONG

WHAT: The namesake “pet project” of emerging fashion designer/fashion media student Chong (below right), which has been making a name for itself for bringing a throbbing undercurrent of body consciousness and sex to the tradition of beadwork. Those interested in a custom order should hit her up on Instagram (@denisechongg).

WHY: Handiwork and a focus on age-old crafts have been making a comeback with the pandemic exacerbating that fervour and Chong’s work marries this with the new. Her pieces are admittedly more editorial than commercial, but that’s okay: She’s intrigued by how fashion has the power to evoke intense emotions. Applying that febrile energy to her designs has seen her fashioning bra tops, body harnesses, thongs and head coverings out of silvery beads that make one think of another provocateur: Paco Rabanne. There is empowerment to be gained from the donning of provocative garments, she says – contrary to what is preached by societal naysayers. “When I created Coercion (her debut collection revealed last year), it was heavily inspired by the shape of a woman’s body,” she says. “With this second collection – named Intrigue – I wanted to open a conversation about gender-nonconforming garments that are more androgynous and can be worn on everyone. I also strongly believe that not everyone is the size of a mannequin. My made-to-order pieces allow me to cater to a more diverse range of body types.”

BEWILDER

WHAT: Mycology is not a term one would usually encounter outside of academic circles, but for the uninitiated, it’s the scientific study of fungi. Started by artist Ng Sze Kiat, this Singapore-based “mycological design studio” expands the possibilities of the field into broader spheres such as gourmet, medicinal, sustainable packaging and even art.

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