Interview with Singapore fashion designer Sabrina Goh
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?
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”.