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Interview with Singapore fashion designer Teo Ying Hui (Demisemiquaver)

March 4th, 2011 Comments off









With five collections under her label “Demisemiquaver” since spring/summer 2007, Teo Ying Hui continues to leave local fashion enthusiasts intrigued with the transcendental yet conceptual design inspirations from her latest “Black Hole” collection. Find out how the label was formulated, the process behind the development of each collection, and let yourself fall into the “Black Hole” in our exclusive interview with the designer herself. By Luth Seah Zhiqiang




TSG: How would you describe your style to someone who doesn’t know your work?

There is always a tone of subtlety and quietness in all my works. The style is feminine and under-stated, with a dash of playfulness.

TSG: What is the philosophy behind the “Black Hole” collection?


A black hole is an entity in space which allows nothing to escape beyond its surface. Thus this collection is not about seeking the new; it is about discarding what we can see on the surface and peeling away the layers. I want to express a sense of thoughtfulness through this collection. The shapes and silhouettes are understated, but they are accompanied by little details and layers that will be discovered when you wear the garments. I would imagine it is like a small conversation between the designer and the wearer.

TSG: From stripes for your initial collection, to plaid fabrics, and now dots in this collection, why did you choose to use them and how did you find them?


Material sourcing for me is always an on-going process. I’ll buy fabrics as and when they catch my eye. Therefore a lot of times, these fabrics become a point of reference for me when I start on a new collection. In all of my works so far, the fabrics were bought before I conceptualize each collection. As the collection develops, I introduce and add on more fabrics to complement the existing ones, so as to complete the story.

TSG: What do you most like about the age we live in?


That we have such easy access to the rest of the world.

TSG: Are you influenced or inspired by any other photographers or artists?


Recently I have been interested in Chinese propaganda posters of the Cultural Revolution found in the 1960s and 1970s. They are always accompanied by political slogans which reflect the political doctrines of that period. I am particularly drawn to the rich colours and the style of illustration in those posters. It is extremely ironic to see artwork depicting so much positivity and hope during a period when millions of people were suffering under the communist ruling.

TSG: Who do you have in mind when designing your clothes? Is there a specific girl or archetype you keep in mind?


She is someone who has her own definitive style. A free-spirited individual who is unwilling to settle for trends, and always on the search for a new alternative.

TSG: What are the difficulties faced by a designer today?


For me, the biggest challenge is trying to keep production costs down and prices reasonable for my customers.

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


I feel it is like making art affordable to the masses. And being affordable does not necessarily equate to a compromise in value or integrity. I see it as a win-win situation for both consumers and designers.

TSG: What is the precondition for the Singapore fashion design scene to grow?


More national pride and genuine interest in our local brands.

TSG: Besides platforms like Singapore Fashion Festival to create awareness, what kind of support do you feel home grown labels need?


I think we need a lot more direct funding for us to develop and market our labels. Unlike the local art groups, which have partnerships programmes, scholarships & yearly awards put in place by the National
Arts Council, the fashion design industry seems to be lacking in this aspect. For independent and young fashion designers who are starting out on their own, it would be great if the government could extend help by offering defunct buildings as work spaces at affordable rates. These spaces could also function as show and exhibition venues on a long term basis, or even encompass a retail section for designers to peddle their creations.

TSG: What’s next on your agenda?


A good holiday.


Front Row – Raffles Hotel Arcade, #02-09 Tel: +65 6221 5501


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