Who by and where from: The New York-based trio of Huy Luong and Dylan Cao from Vietnam and Jin Kay from South Korea – all first-generation immigrants who met while studying at the Parsons School of Design and started the label in 2018. Why know it: Think of Commission as the founders’ love letter to their origins – or more specifically their mothers in the ’80s, when they were forging their respective careers in an East Asian landscape that was just starting to come into its own. This sweet story has translated into trendy yet polished interpretations of office-friendly wear that slyly winks at the working mum’s wardrobe from the era and motifs anyone who’s grown up in East Asia would find familiar. This season, for instance, florals just like the kind Luong’s and Cao’s grandmas would wear at home turn up on elegant draped midi dresses and pleated skirts. Design-minded women would meanwhile appreciate the brand’s sleek and languid staples that are spiked with just the right dose of thoughtful details such as a double row of belt loops on a slim, superbly cut pair of pants. Is it any wonder that the starmaking Net-a-porter enlisted the brand right from its first season as part of its emerging designer Vanguard programme and that it was shortlisted for this year’s LVMH Prize?
Who by and where from: The 25-year-old Caro Chia from Malaysia. Why know it: Having just launched earlier this year, this eponymous label might be the most obscure name on this list, but we’ve a feeling that it won’t stay under wraps for long. Chia’s Instagram account (@caro__chia), for instance, is catnip for design buffs with artfully taken visuals of her garments interspersed with that of abstract sculptures by the likes of the Dada-influenced Barbara Hepworth and Jean Arp. The latter and art in general are powerful influences on Chia, whose designs resemble fluid, architecturally cut experiments characterised by what she calls “uncertain” shapes. A corset top features extended panels with graphic, curved lines crafted from contrasting fabric. A diaphanous one-piece that she created during lockdown is more akin to a biomorphic Richard Serra installation than an evening appropriate dress that has been ingeniously twisted and draped. That Chia’s designs come across as both cerebral and simmeringly sensual is no surprise – she interned at Supriya Lele (also featured in this story) and counts Helmut Lang as her fashion hero for the way he “interacted with fashion from an artist’s perspective”. For now, head to her website (www.carochia.com) for enquiries though we predict bigger things to come her way. (FYI: she’s also a sculptor and was behind all the ones depicted in the pictures here, alongside her clothes.)
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Tiger tiger, burning bright
FELIPE OLIVEIRA BAPTISTA IS REMAKING KENZO FOR A MODERN AGE, TAPPING AS MUCH INTO THE ARCHIVES AS ITS FOUNDING JAPANESE DESIGNER’S ETHOS OF CULTURAL CURIOSITY FOR HIS DEBUT THIS SEASON. GORDON NG REPORTS ON HOW HE’S CONTINUING KENZO TAKADA’S LEGACY.
A Fall/ Winter 2020 Collection Report
(And some of the asian models who commanded the season’s runways)
A Place In The Sun
For the multitude of differences that we ought to recognise and embrace, there are some things that Asian women in general share in common when it comes to discussing matters of the skin. For example, scientific studies have shown that the all-protective, outermost layer of the complexi0n known as the stratum corneum in asian women is thin. We also are more prone to pigmentation because of higher levels of melanocyte activity. At the same time, the region’s humidity means that our sebaceous glands – which asians tend to have more of – can overreact (hands up if oily skin bothers you) while UV rays and pollution levels have made sensitised skin a growing condition here. All launched this year, the products on the next two pages don’t claim to cover the skincare concerns of all Asian women, but they do help tackle some of the most common. And – in the spirit of this edition’s theme – they’re all created by brands with roots in asia. Sofia Kim reports.
LOCAL LABEL BEYOND THE VINES HAS COME A LONG WAY SINCE ITS TO MENTION STORES IN FIVE COUNTRIES), IT’S THE ARCHETYPE OF A, ’ INCEPTION FIVE YEARS AGO. WITH AN EXTENSIVE REBRANDING IN SINGAPORE FASHION LABEL MADE GOOD. SO WHO BETTER TO DISCUSS. PROCESS AND A NEWLY OPENED CONCEPT SPACE AT NGEE ANN CITY (NOT THE STATE OF SINGAPORE FASHION RETAIL TODAY? BY KENG YANG SHUEN
On the up
FROM AN IRANIAN MILLINER CRAFTING FANTASTICAL HATS THAT RESEMBLE SCULPTURE TO A GENDER-FLUID HONG KONG LABEL CHALLENGING TRADITIONAL NOTIONS OF MASCULINITY, THE SEVEN EMERGING BRANDS FEATURED HERE SHARE ONE THING IN COMMON: FOUNDERS WITH ROOTS IN ASIA – AND BOLD IDEAS THAT THE WORLD SHOULD KNOW ABOUT. KENG YANG SHUEN REPORTS.
What Does It Mean To Be Asian?
What does it mean to be asian? That question is so large, so vast, that answering it is nearly impossible. The truth is that Singaporeans today straddle multiple cultural identities: our own ethnic heritage, our place in the world as global citizens and our communal sense of a nation. So instead of trying to find an unattainable answer, we went in search of the particular. Image-making has the power of influencing how we view, imagine and define ourselves. Through their work and research, the three Singapore image-makers we spoke to here each deal with specific perspectives of asian-ness. All start unsurprisingly from some place (or something) personal then delve into bigger, more mercurial ideas: the dominance of eurocentric beauty ideals; the challenge of conceiving and creating a postcolonial identity; the fragility of heritage and history in a modern world. And in doing so, each offers a different viewpoint on what it means and looks like to be asian. Gordon NG goes in for a close-up.
Asia's True Top Models
A diversity report on the fall/winter 2020 runway season by the fashion spot – drawn from 194 shows that took place in the four major fashion week cities – found that 40.6 per cent of models cast were people of colour. In contrast, when the popular online portal started tallying diversity reports five years ago with the spring/summer 2015 season, that figure was 17 per cent. It’s commendable change, some might say – one that reflects the fashion industry’s growing interest in and recognition of the importance of representing a wide range of faces and ethnicities. Based in different parts of asia, the three modelling agencies featured here aren’t just vital players in this revolution; they’re expanding the conversation by championing specifically models from home. Gordon NG finds out how they’re changing the look and perceptions of Asian beauty.
The Power Of Joy
K-pop has undoubtedly been one of the biggest cultural exports out of asia and the same might just go for one of the scene’s most popular young female stars of the moment: the chameleonic style icon and multi-hyphenate entertainer joy.
In 2019, Louis Vuitton introduced its Artycapucines project, which invites leading international artists to reimagine its Capucines tote – named after the Parisian street on which the brand opened its first boutique and known for its extensive craftsmanship. For the second edition – limited to 200 pieces worldwide per design – hitting selected stores (including the one here at Ngee Ann City) on oct 30, the Maison Ropes in for the first time two asian names: Xinjiang-born Zhao Zhao and Beijinger Liu Wei. Here, an exclusive with these chinese luminaries on their art and how they’ve transformed an artisanal handbag into a true objet d’art. Keng Yang Shuen reports.
Fortune Favours The Boh
Fashion PR, writing, modelling – bohan qiu has tried his hand at all of them. In a way, the Shenzhen-born 26-year-old exemplifies the contemporary fashion multi-hyphenate with his latest turn being the entrepreneur behind boh project, a PR and digital content agency based in Shanghai. Founded last year, the company is already staking a claim in the chinese fashion scene, counting clients that range from giants (calvin klein, selfridges) to emerging names. Among the latter is the fashion and art presentation platform Xcommons, which made global headlines in march for producing a virtual reality presentation for the chinese labels Xu Zhi, Andrea Jiapei Li and Roderic Wong, and garnering over 4.8 million visits within the first day. So who better to speak to for insights into the fascinating, fast-moving and growing chinese fashion industry?