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Interview with Singapore veteran couturier Tan Yoong

July 14th, 2010 Comments off

 


  

  

The Interview

A veteran couturier for the past two decades, Tan Yoong might just be the only designer from our local ground to reach legendary status. Known for his exquisite craftmanship and tailoring from his made-to-measure label, which includes a couture bridal line, it should come with no surprise that his main group of clients are attributed with having elegant taste.

Tan Yoong gives us an eye-opening view of the highs and lows of his prolific career thus far, and hints at what he has in store for his label in our exclusive Test Shoot Gallery interview. By Luth Seah Zhiqiang

  

  

TSG: What kind of environment did you grow up in?

I can recall that I enjoyed drawing from a young age. I frequently used chalk to draw female forms attending different parties in different  outfits, as if they had a endless supply of clothes designed for parties.

My parents and siblings were very supportive of my choice to do art despite the fact of them having little understanding of the arts. Perhaps it was because I was the youngest in the family.

I was naturally attracted to the aesthetics and beauty of the female form (always sketching made-up eyes or lips). As a teenager, I was very much influenced by my sister’s many issues of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. I remember David Bailey’s shoots with Jean Shrimpton, Penelope Tree and Marie Helvin, and also the pictures of Irving Penn and Horst. I was fascinated by the compositions in the photos, and it molded my base of aesthetic appreciation.

After pre-university, I pursued the arts by enrolling into the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. After graduation, I became a graphic artist, because back in those days, aspiring locasl fashion designers were unheard of!

Eventually, I went into advertising and I worked my way up to become an art director in BateyAds, which really widened my view to the world of design. It sharpened my skills enough to differentiate and allowed me to strive towards an international feel in all aspects of my work. Till today, I am still applying the knowledge learnt from advertising to my fashion designing.

  

  

TSG: What was the starting point for you in the arts? How did you know that you wanted to become an artist?

I think it is a gift from God. I was always my art teachers’ favourite student. Always excelling in art although I did badly in other subjects.

I excelled even in my advertising days when I won top awards in poster design, lettering design, interior design and fashion design. I best expressed my ideas in an artsy way, and I enjoyed and appreciated anything to do with art expression – be it photography, fashion, culture, dance, music, etc. I still do of course!
 

 

TSG: How would you describe your design aesthetic?

My design aesthetic would be ethereal and fluid, always feminine and dreamy in terms of silhouette and detailing.

 

 

TSG: Why the move from being an art director to a fashion designer, and how do you compare it to your job as an art director?

First of all, I love fashion. Unlike advertising (especially locally because one’s creativity is controlled or dictated by your clients), fashion gives me more freedom to fantasize and dream. I am not a wordsmith, so if I am not in fashion, I would most probably be doing something associated with fine arts, photography, or interior design.
 

 

TSG:  What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

To quit advertising and start my own fashion label without knowing anything about the business!

 
 

 

TSG: What was the most excited project you had been involved and why?

Two fashion design contests I took part in Tokyo in 1974 and 1976 while working in advertising. Those were the only chances I could show off my fashion flair and I was the first non-Japanese to win worldwide! I felt like I was representing Singapore and it was my first trip to Japan, where I was chauffeured everywhere with a lady translator in tow. It was an amazing experience!
 
 

 

TSG: You certainly seem to be reaching for the surreal and cinematic effects in your advertising campaigns for your label. What led you in that direction with your work? Did you feel disillusioned with mainstream fashion photography?

I am very much a dreamer. I like to think about a woman in different moods and situations. I try to break free from repeating my works and to achieve a cosmopolitan appeal to my designs.
 

 

TSG: Do you like the models doing typical model poses when you are directing the shoots?

In the beginning, the models called me a professional bone-breaker, because I put them in impossible poses just to be unique! Nowadays, I want them to be natural, but still portraying a certain character in a story. Of course, it has to show my clothes in the perfect angle.
 

 

TSG: In your opinion, what’s a designer’s role in the current economic climate?

I think designers have to work more magic to attract. What’s the balance between refining the signature of the house each season and doing something new? It seems there’s tremendous pressure now to do something completely new every time. Yes, it’s not easy to achieve the balance to please your followers and to attract new customers.
 

 

TSG: In five words, what does beauty represent to you?

Anything that pleases my eyes.

 

 

TSG: What other artists do you admire in your own field of work?

Currently, I admire the design sensibilities of Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, as well as the Mulleavy sisters from Rodarte.  Though, my all-time favourite is definitely still Christian Larcoix!
 

 

TSG: What was your most memorable work experience?

One of that moments has to be collaborating with photographer extraordinaire, Willie Tang. It is the way he shoots. Always inspiring and demanding perfection, whether it is from the models, the stylist, the setting, basically everything!

He has influenced my works and creative vision to higher standards; to try and view the ideas with perfection.
 

 

TSG: What makes you laugh? 

I laugh easily, I love sharing my laughter and joy with close ones. Although my friends always tease me about having a fierce exterior demeanour.

 

 

TSG: What are you working on at the moment, and what future projects do you have? 

For the year end, I am preparing the looks for my campaign, and I am exploring the idea of a film for that collection.

 

   

 

TSG: Do you have any advice for young people who would like to start a career as a fashion designer?
 
No advice, except that they need to have a lot of passion and patience, and be very focused on their work.
Link


Tan Yoong

We’re mentioned in The Straits Times, Urban!

July 2nd, 2010 Comments off

 

The Team

Photography / May Lin Le Goff
Creative Director / Ashburn Eng
Hair & Make-up / Larry Yeo using Beyu & Redken
Model / Taisya P (Upfront Models)
Styling Assistant / Shanna Matthew
Outfit / Bottega Venetta 

 

 

IAN LEE speaks to three emerging local fashion photographers who finished top in the Canon Fashion Season@Orchard Fashion Photography Challenge and gets them to each shoot a picture to showcase their style. The Fashion Season@Orchard(FSO), organised by the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) and held in April, helped to give the fashion photography scene here a boost with the Canon FSO Fashion Photography Challenge. Between March 25 and April 20, budding photographers were invited to submit up to five photos. A total of 210 photographers from 11 countries, including Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Ireland sent in entries for the contest, which offered more than $7,000 worth of Canon cameras as prizes.

A panel of judges from Canon Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board, Orba and Singapore Press Holdings shortlisted 20 photographs, which were exhibited in front of Ion Orchard and The Heeren from May 1 to 9. Public votes made up 25 per cent of each participating photographer’s score, while votes from the panel of judges made up the remaining 75 per cent. Urban speaks to the top three winners of the Canon FSO Fashion Photography Challenge to find out more about their shooting style. We also got them to showcase their personal aesthetic by shooting the same model in a dress from Bottega Veneta’s pre-fall collection. They were allowed to pick their own styling team and additional accessories for the shoot. 

 

 

MAY LIN LE GOFF, 21
First place in Canon FSO Fashion Photography Challenge 2010

Background: 
She has three years of experience, starting with an internship as a photo-journalist at The Straits Times in 2007. Subsequently, she joined commercial photography studio Calibre as an intern before being hired as an
assistant photographer for a year. Currently a freelance photographer, she will be leaving for New York next month to study fine arts at the School Of Visual Arts.

Style:
Alternative and moody, she prefers to veer away from standard notions of beauty. “I like to explore different angles and my pictures capture emotional qualities ranging from strength to vulnerability,” says Le Goff.

Favourite photographers:
British photographer Nick Knight and Chinese photographer Chen Man Er, whose works do not conform to conventional notions of beauty. Also inspired by the strong, feminine and architectural qualities of Swedish fashion photographer Camilla Akrans’ work.

Recent projects:
A set of campaign pictures for local label Max.Tan’s spring/summer 2010 collection, shot at the Marina Barrage last year, was selected as one of the top 10 advertising campaigns for spring/summer 2010 womenswear by American online trend website Stylesight.com. It was listed alongside international advertising campaigns from Prada, Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger and Valentino. The budding photographer has just finished shooting Max.Tan’s fall/winter campaign.

Shoot concept:
“I wanted to bring out a sexy physicality from the model and dress, so I focused on her curves and the silhouette of the dress. We did not want to over-dress the outfit because the pre-fall season is associated with wearable clothes,” says Le Goff.

Max.Tan “AGAINST” Autumn/Winter 2010 campaign & interview by TSG coming your way..

July 1st, 2010 Comments off

 

 
The Team

 

Photography / May Lin Le Goff
Creative & Fashion Direction / Ashburn Eng
Fashion Designer / Max.Tan by Max Tan
Make-up / Mav Chang
Hair / Annie Tay
Model & Text / Luth Seah Zhiqiang
Styling Assistance / Shanna Matthew

Interview with Singapore fashion designer Sabrina Goh

June 28th, 2010 Comments off

 

  

   

The Interview

Let us face it, women can be vicious. Executed as a self-defense “tool”, or just out of fulfillment for their dark side, they are the species not to be underestimated. Maybe that is why designer Sabrina Goh feels the need to excavate the sinister in the woman in our society, an inspiration that ignited her fourth collection for label ELOHIM.  Named “Poison Ivy”, the Autumn/Winter 2010 collection for ELOHIM showcases a spectrum of colour, material, construction and proportion to express the properties of the character. 

Tripping us with more her illustrated exoticism, Sabrina Goh shares the inspirations to the construction behind the latest collection from ELOHIM, as well as all things trivia of the force behind the label in our exclusive interview. By Luth Seah Zhiqiang
 

   

   

TSG: What was the starting point for your Autumn/Winter 2010 collection?
 

Autumn/Winter 2010 expresses my feeling, inspired by the some incidents that happened. Whenever I feel weak or discouraged, I translate these sensations into drawings/designs. This helps me to stay positive and courageous despite bumps in life. These experiences force anyone to build up an outer layer of new self and conceal past memories subconsciously. Though they might have made progression in life, they don’t make incredible leaps to their lives. I hope that through my work, people will feel encouraged to change in their ideals about themselves, hold on to positivity and step up the values in their lives. 

   

   

TSG: How do you start working on this new collection, and how do you go about designing the pieces?
 

ELOHIM’s Fall Winter 2010 collection is inspired by the concept metaphor of POISON IVY: A lover, a fighter and a femme fatale. A poisonous plant, a Marvel comic character from the Batman series, a metaphor for the modern woman, alluring powering and able to defend herself. POISON IVY is a walking contradiction and mysterious creature. She is a woman who inspires delicate romance and deadly reaction. 

   

   

TSG: What other artists do you admire in your own field of work?
 

The late Alexander McQueen, Grace Coddington, Nicholas Ghesquiere, Ricardo Tisci, Steven Klein and Sazeli Jalal.

  

   

TSG: Before achieving such tremendous amount of success on the local fashion scene, how did you first know that you wanted to become an artist, or your first encounter in designing?

 

Fashion had always been the dream job since young. I remembered my father asking me if I was interested in becoming a fashion designer, perhaps he could see it was a gift in me. I was not artistically brought up as a child, but my father who was an architect draughtsman inspired me, and I always helped him to watercolour. After my “O” Levels, I continued my passion and studied at LASALLE SIA College of the Arts, majoring in Fashion Design. I participated in Singapore Young Designer ‘06 and ‘07 and was a finalist for both competitions. It was a great way to showcase my creativity in public, and I could not be who I am now without the great experiences to mould me. 

 

 

TSG: What is your idea of Elohim in a woman? 

 

ELOHIM’s stark silhouettes portray the image of strength and vulnerability, having confidence on the outside and internally.

 

 

TSG: Why did you move to Singapore, and how do you compare it to Malaysia? 

 

Singapore is the closest country to home and is a well-known safe place to study. The move to Singapore was a natural decision after many years of influenced by Singaporean TV shows, radio and magazines. Back then, I was inspired by K.MI Huang, a senior at Lasalle College of the Arts, also the designer behind WOMB won the Singapore Fashion Designer Contest 2001. I hoped to be as successful as her by enrolling myself in the same school that she studied at.

 

 

TSG: Your advertising campaign photos are often quite dark and haunting, is there any particular inspiration? 

 
My campaigns are emotionally influenced and reflect the concept behind the collection. I like the fact that the photographs are not taken in perfect overly happy manner but in a social realistic way. My campaigns have their hidden messages to encourage people to stay strong in life, hence the tougher strong styling.

 

 

TSG: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?


“When you have faith to see your dreams come to past, you are halfway there to your goal.”

 

 

TSG: What was the most excited project/ work you had been involved and why?

 

Mango Fashion Awards El Boton 3rd Edition and shortlisted as one of Top 46 Finalists worldwide. I feel it is always good to get involved in local or overseas competitions because I am constantly kept on my toes and there always will be a thirst for improvement. 

 

 

TSG: Who would be the ideal public ambassador for the brand? 

Kate Lanphear. 

 

 

TSG: How do fashion and photography coexist for you or ELOHIM? 

Photography is important especially in fashion, as they are fronts to portray and translate a brand/collection’s image, concept and sensation.

 

 

TSG: What do you think of luxury designers collaborating with and having their work mass-produced for stores like Uniqlo? Do you think, in the long run, it will affect the artistic integrity of the fashion industry as a whole?


Designers take pride in the works they produce; creativity will not be compromised for something even that basic. Mass produced brands like Uniqlo had been successful in selling their concepts and products even as it outreaches to the masses. I do not think it will affect the artistic integrity of the fashion industry because it is targeted to different market. 

 

 

TSG: Lastly, any advice you will offer to aspiring designers?

 
My advice will be to set your goals and head forth to achieve them. Do not be afraid to dream, as you will never know how sharp your pencil is until you sharpen it. As they always say “Work without dream is treacherous. Dream without work will always be a dream”.

Link

Elohim

Interview with the trio behind the fashion label “Reckless Ericka”

June 22nd, 2010 Comments off

  


 

The Interview

The trio behind the label “Reckless Ericka”, Afton Chen, Ruth Marbun, and Louis Koh, have proven that they are showing no signs of slowing things down. From launching a new line “Odds by Reckless Ericka”, to the opening of their first boutique “The Reckless Shop” at the Stamford house recently, it is almost safe to say that they are nothing less than being ambitious. Telling us more about the label and the philosophy of their new line, the different tastes of music that they prefer, the trio-force behind Reckless Ericka reveals it all in our exclusive interview.  By Luth Seah Zhiqiang 

  

TSG: How would you describe your design aesthetic? 
  

Balancing classic tailoring with the edgy use of silhouettes and colours, and constructing avant-garde silhouettes with classic details. Infusing edginess and quirkiness into our brand’s identity and core.
 
  

TSG: What is the philosophy behind the new line “Odds by Reckless Ericka”? 

‘Odds by Reckless Ericka’ is a chic, casual and street styled womenswear. Odds features drapes on jerseys that stresses on the basic silhouette, yet enhances the femininity of a woman. In this, we hope it will capture the youthfulness and energy of women. It is priced to reach out to the general masses. 

 

 

TSG: Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and where you’re from, your environment while growing up?

Afton: I am Singaporean. Part of my childhood was spent in Kaohsiung (Taiwan) where I had some of my best memories. The school that I had attended (Kaohsiung American School) had nurtured the creative side in me with various projects and skits. I enjoyed designing my own costumes for the skits and that was when I discovered the fun in designing and clothes making. My parents have been amazingly supportive of me to pursue my dreams to allow me to continue my work and I am thankful for their love. 

  

  

TSG: Was becoming a fashion designer what you always wanted to do in your life?
 

Afton & Ruth: Yes, it’s what we’ve always wanted to do.

 

 

TSG: Your designs have won you a sort of celebrity fan base that includes Adam Lambert, Sara Nuru, Rebecca Tan and Nadya Hutagalung. How do you feel about it?

We’re really glad to have the wonderful opportunity to be able to work with talented artistes like them. It was definitely a great experience.

 

 

TSG: Who has been the greatest influence on your career and who are your favourite designers?

Afton: Aitor Throup. I admire his fascinating work that pays huge attention to the anatomy of the human body, and his illustrations are really intriguing. My other favourite designers would be Ann Demeulemeester, Paul Poiret, Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen, Elsa Schiaparelli and Mihara Yasuhiro.
Ruth: My parents are my greatest influence for my career. It may sound cliché but it’s them that made me who I am today. To name one of my favourite designers would be Vivienne Westwood. I admire her madness and passion in everything she believes in. 

 

 

TSG: How did You, Ruth and Louis meet?

Afton: 3 of us met in school!

 

TSG: Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure who has guided or influenced you?

We are truly grateful to Nic Wong and Daniel Boey. 

 

 

TSG: How different is working on your own, compared to working with others?

When working on your own, you have to be conscientious in managing your time as the line blurs between your personal life and work. A lot of overtime work involved, but we love our brand!
 

 

TSG: Do you think the best creative work is developed in private without too much outside influence?

Afton: Creative work is best when there’re more heads involved in the thinking process because the design will turn out to be a melting pot of styles, cultures and artistic viewpoints.I don’t have a fixed, single object of influence or inspiration, because inspiration is the strangest thing! It comes from everywhere, in any form and best of all, it springs up when you least expected.
Ruth: I think the best creative works are always the ones that come sincerely from the heart with all the passion. 

 

 

TSG: Who would be the ideal public ambassador for the brand? And why?

Afton: Patti Smith.
Ruth: Karen Elson will be great. Simply because I love her. With Jefferson Hack. That will be awesome.
Louis: Johnny Depp, he is quirky!
 

 

TSG: How do you find your materials, and what goes into your decisions when putting them together?

We make bi-annual trips overseas for fabric hunting. We wouldn’t want to limit ourselves so we keep an open mind while looking. We love the challenge of piecing the materials together and set the mind ticking and decide when we have everything in front of us. 

 

 

TSG: In no more than five words, what does beauty represent to you?

Afton: Confidence. 

 

 

TSG: What is your choice of music?

Afton: Swing big band arranger Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, and British rock from the 60s and 70s (The Beatles, The Kinks, Joy Division, The Who, Queen, Siouxsie and the Banshees). Music has always been one of the sources of inspiration for me. There’s always something about the musical arrangements, vocal harmonies, and lyrics that intrigues me in a way that I can’t simply put it to words.
Ruth: I’m more a band person though I listen to many kinds of music. I’m into the oldies, a bit stuck in the nineties, and love to surprise my self with new ones. To name a few: Bob Dylan, The Smiths, The Kinks, Jamie T, Two Door Cinema Club. And I love to sing and dance to music!
Louis: Pop rock, because it keeps me happy. The Killers :)
 

 

TSG: If you could live in any time period, what period would you choose and why?

Afton: I love it now but if I had to choose, it would be the Roaring Twenties. I am fascinated with the sudden dynamic changes in the social, arts, music and fashion scenes that are so different from the Victorian lifestyle. This was also when modern fashion was created and I would love to attend Marchesa Casati’s masquerade balls.
 

 

TSG: What’s the best and worst thing about being a young designer in Singapore?

Best: The Singapore retail industry today is definitely opening up to young local designers and labels and there has been great support from organisations like SPRING Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board and Design Singapore backing our industry. Worst: We yearn for more acceptance and better education about local designers to the consumers.

 

 

TSG: What has the industry taught you?

Afton: To have hope, as it is a positive expectation of good!
Ruth: Many things. How to be tough on decisions and compromise at the same time.
Louis: Taught me to be truthful to the brand and it never hurts to go the extra mile. 

 

 

TSG: In your opinion, what’s a designer’s role in the current economic climate?

It’s easy to lament and blame the effects of recession, but instead of doing so, a designer should look into re-branding or restructuring to appeal and stay above the crowd.

 

 

 

 

Stockist / Link  

Reckless Ericka
The Reckless Shop                                     Stamford House, #01-03 Tel: +65 6338 8246

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