Monday, 3 May 2010

Singapore Fashion Festival: Fashion Asia, all dressed up, Henry Holland

A stimulating day started with a breath of fresh air blown in from Pakistan. Four very different talents under the umbrella title of Fashion Asia came together to show in Singapore. They made me realise yet again how vibrant and original clothes from this part of the world can be when they are not too linked to a stereotype of a national costume. They are absolutely not to be compared with the tired western copies put out by designers who have had an exotic holiday somewhere, and return with surface ideas they've nicked. The point such western designers so often miss is that, just as in the west, good eastern fashion is based on a philosophy of life, not a few pretty primary colours and some beading.

After all, we are all conscious of the fact that all creativity stems from a culture – and often a mix of more than one. In fact, the clothes shown by Maheen Khan, Shamaeel Ansari, Deepak Perwani, and Nomi Ansari with Fashion Asia were far too sophisticated to have the tag of ethnic stuck on them. These were clothes that could fit in many sophisticated women's wardrobes. Not all; not every wardrobe; and probably not in their entirety – but, then, who ever buys a total wardrobe from one label, in any case?

The same is true of all dressed up, a collection of super-sophisticated big city looks created by Tina Tan Leo, famous in fashion for her shop The Link and possibly Asia's most powerful retailer. Like Joan Burstein, she is rightly acknowledged as fashion royalty. Her internationalism shone out in this collection for its Audrey Hepburn minimalism and very cool colour palette … although there were a few wavy numbers and lumpy embroidery in the middle that I could have done without.

And then there was Henry Holland. What does one say about Henry, the cheeky little robin of London fashion, except that his one-stop, one-size-fits-all approach went down a storm with cool young Singaporeans. Likewise his "spinning' at a club later, well into the night.


  1. I absolutely agree about the tiredness of the references used by some designers- it would be a huge relief never to hear the words 'tribal' (whose tribe?), or 'ethnic' ('ethnic' to whom?)used in press releases and show reviews, ever again.

    Sorry to go off-topic, but I couldn't help thinking about the 'Fashion Film' you think that films like A Single Man or I Am Love, in their extreme attention to aesthetics, differ from hyper-stylised films by 'regular' filmmakers? ( Quentin Tarantino or Sofia Coppola being the two most obvious examples- though the latter is a fashion figure of sorts herself, and is known to be particular about clothing in her films). There are other films, well known for the attention that was paid to costumes during their making, that didn't have a seemingly one-dimensional end product (e.g. Funny Face, any Alfred Hitchcock film), so I do wonder whether the problem you cited is purely a result of fashion-insider one-track mindedness, or...something else.

    I'm genuinely curious to know what you think about that, and sorry my comment turned into a mini-essay.

  2. How exactly do you think the rules of fashion will change as more western designers look to the promising markets of the east to sell their collections and eastern fashion gains prominence in the west? Dries Van Noten is a great example of someone who has blended east and west beautifully. Is that the direction in which you see fashion moving?