Since Women’s Fashion Week is coming this October, we thought what better time to recap the ready-to-wear womenswear fashion week in Singapore!

Audi Fashion Festival was held in May and featured stunning collections, from Singapore stalwart alldressedup to regional label Greyhound and international ready-to-wear from Emanuel Ungaro.

As we were doing our coverage, there was simply too much good stuff to go around. Fabulous afterparties, fabulous clothes, fabulous people – too much fabulosity makes for an ecstasy overdose! (Plus, hey we’re students too, we have our day ‘jobs’ you know! *cue boring lectures*)

So, here’s a look back at the annual festival’s 2011 run as we review the AFF shows you haven’t seen yet.

Swarovski + Prabal Gurung

I swear to you right now: my eyes became a bit watery after the Swarovski show. Maybe I was touched by the clothes. Maybe there was too much bling. Or maybe I drank a bit too much Rosemount white and was mulling over life issues while seated in “the rows that cannot be mentioned” i.e. third row and beyond (after second row, no one cares where you sit).

Whatever the reasons may be, Swarovski stunned in a two-part collab show with Prabal Gurung, the latter whose design aesthetic I absolutely love. Unfortunately, the Singapore-born, Nepal-raised, American-based designer was not there to take his curtain call because hey, the US of A and Anna Wintour have got his back anyway. (No, I don’t know the official reason why he wasn’t there).

However, his designs certainly made up for his absence. His A/W 2011 collection showed plenty of play on colour and geometry. Think emerald green midi toga with wave-like cutouts lining the side (of course, in velvet, the hottest Fall fabric this year). Accent colours include peach-red, tangerine and hot pink colour-blocked on a black-white-sand palette. Swarovski necklaces focused on statement shapes and tribal-inspired motifs that paired well with the cocktail dresses.

The second half showed Swarovski’s “Wings of Fantasy” collection, with necklaces ranging from sharktooth to choker. Swarovski being Swarovski, went the OTT route with bib necklaces steeped in layers of emerald, ruby and purple jewels with a touch of gold. Tops and dresses were also encrusted with Swarovski crystals and the best way to wear it is, well, with jewels covering every single centimeter of fabric. #gottagohard

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The audience literally GASPED AUDIBLY when this came out. #blingbling

Antonio Berardi

Antonio Berardi is never one to shy away from creating larger-than-life looks, and his A/W 2011 collection certainly does just that. Who cares about wearability when you can rock out in oversized lapels and collars on jackets and folded pleats stacked atop one another on mini-skirts? Being safe is so 2008.

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Besides experimenting with chevron (metallic and matt), other on-point prints and textures included the trendy lace, tweed, twill and herringbone. The ubiquitous fur collar made its appearance, albeit in a subtle shade of dark grey. Monochrome was a key look and rightly so, striking strong silhouettes with tight tailoring and pointed shoulders to boot. However, whenever colour made its mark, it was unforgivable: think nudes and navy with shamrock green, coral and the most gorgeous bright red ever.

P.S. We were seated in second row. Probably because I wore my red pleather jacket with metal studs on my lapels, which was a nod to the metal-studded black jacket on the runway. It was not incidental: I knew that would come out on the runway. Yay to 6AM research on the day of the show. Note to self: Wear the designer’s look if you can.

Greyhound

Yes, I get it: runway shows are boring. Seeing a bunch of girls walking down and up the floor can get a bit grating when you’re seeing it for the 1782643875798219th time. But there comes a point when reinventing the walk gets in the way of actually seeing the clothes proper (Song for the Mute, you are forgiven).

Greyhound tried too much to lend creativity to the stage: While a metallic-applique fabric hung along the runway added an excellent graphic element, models walked out haphazardly at varying speeds and only on either side of the hung fabric. It’s not really great not to be able to see examine half of the collection from where we’re seated at. No general lighting also made our photog’s job really difficult when models are walking into spaced-out spotlights instead (yes, at different times). No points for breaking the mould.

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Otherwise, there’s plenty to rave about. Their A/W 2011 collection features a stunning play on nudes with double-breasted oversized fur-collared jackets and parkas, pleated drop-crotch pants with surprisingly modern cargo pockets and capelets with leggings and peep-toe wedges. A crochet crop top made out of peace signs might have sent the message more effectively than the messy staging.

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Nomadic peacekeeper, indeed.

PARCO next NEXT

If there is an unsung hero in the fashion week, one that receives very little attention but really should, it’s these awesome designers at incubator project PARCO next NEXT. This was the only show with a full house: even some attendees had to stand! Eight labels showed on the runway: A.K.A Wayward, Chalk, Coupé-cousu, Kenji, Mae Pang, max.tan, Pauline Ning and Polka.

These designers showed the promise of Singapore fashion and that we have everything to be proud of it. Coupé-cousu takes top marks for colour-blocked shirts in bright, almost neon hues of turquoise, lime green, tangerine and hot pink. A.K.A Wayward scores in its eccentricity: shades of navy-cream combos were accompanied by models coming out in pairs and one particular model crazily stomping down the runway with his walking stick. Rad.

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While Pauline Ning and max.tan ace the monochrome look, Chalk deserves mention for cocktail mini dresses that can replace the LBD anytime (the Amy Dress is our fave). Kenji drew gasps from the audience when one of its models disrobed her puffed-up dress to reveal a stunning red tiered gown hidden underneath. Talk about versatile wear.

We’ll be keenly watching these designers for they may just surprise us all very soon.

LASALLE Graduate Show

Another unsung hero coming who could also have come out tops had it not been for amateurish execution. Yes, they are graduates, I must forgive them, blah blah blah – whatever. There’s no excuse for untacked pins and masking tape on models’ shoes. You wanna show clothes? Be professional about it.

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Okay, that sounded too diva. 26 graduates paraded their collections, including 8 students showcasing shoes. Standouts included Lucia Jacky’s hooded pointed-shoulder black gown that screams disturbing chic and Felicia Isadora’s Nyonya-inspired lace-organza dress in modern hues like deep red and turquoise. We love Florentsya’s take on the tribal dress with high-slit panels and a rope-lined neckline framing the décolletage.

Tribal prints were big on the runway, with Toh Ying Ying’s staircase prints and Sevwandi Wimalaratne’s sculptural 3D-like motifs. However, we were left scratching our heads at Megawati’s knot-and-braid rope dress that disturbingly left the model pretty much cold and naked on the runway.

The “Departmental Store”-themed show was cohesive and displayed some exciting and interesting designs, although some collections pretty much screamed Rumi Neely wannabe (which makes up about half the girls in Singapore). Will the graduates will be Singapore fashion heavyweights? The promise is there.

As with the hits, there were some misses. Francis Cheong Couture felt more like a parade of gaudy fabrics and tai-tais. (Who in their right state of mind will wear fabric panels extended from a gown with rings on their ends, to a ballroom function?) The show wasn’t even pageant-y, just really in need of a facelift, Botox and tummy tuck all at once (no pun intended to said sponsor).

Tiffany & Co. was the same old sweet story: Boy meets girl, boy gives oh-so-sweet necklace to girl before girl falls in love with said boy. Simplicity in jewellery will not turn heads, so we opt for more intricate designs. Nothing beats getting everyone to notice you with your statement necklace.

Triumph was one, big, huge mess. The girls were obviously too skinny to fit properly into any of the lingerie. (Is that her fat? No, it’s her ribcage! And her spine!) Even then, some girls just had ugly protrusions of flaccid skin where it shouldn’t be, which really distracted me from the brilliant creative staging (red runway! black bar sunglasses! guns and umbrellas!) and all that lace and corset.

Overall, AFF was one successful event and a very tiring but rewarding one for us and other bloggers and editors who were shuttling like mad fashionistas-in-session around Orchard Road. With Women’s Fashion Week adding haute couture to the fray, it will be interesting to see AFF headed in a more specific direction in ready-to-wear and schedule itself in tandem with not only Singapore’s fashion seasons, but with international fashion weeks as well.

We’re hoping for a stronger Asian and Singapore showing next year (we have mad talent here!). New York Fashion Week’s showing a strong ecosystem of supporting young designers, which we hope will begin to take root here. Will we see Spring and Fall weeks next year as well? Only time will tell.

Till next year, fashionistas! On with the couture in October!

xx Shah

Pictures by Popspoken photographer Zakk