It looks like Singapore is going all out to make it big in the fashion arena.

After a successful Men’s Fashion Week this year (the third in the world), Singapore creates history once again as the inaugural Women’s Fashion Week (WFW) 2011 Singapore completes the country’s fashion seasons by bringing haute couture to Singapore.

(FYI, haute couture = creating exclusive clothing made-to-order for a specific customer)

To be held from 26th-30th October at Marina Bay Sands, WFW will host 9 grand couturiers or invited members of haute couture’s regulatory body, the Chamber Syndicale de la Haute Couture, for the five-day event. This is the first time haute couture has travelled out from Paris, thus making Singapore the second country to host Haute Couture Week.

Two couturiers, Gustavo Lins from Atelier Gustavolins and Stéphane Rolland, were unveiled yesterday at a press conference as part of the WFW couturier lineup.

Both couturiers have fashion houses under their own names. While Gustavo Lins has apprenticed under John Galliano and Jean-Paul Gaultier Couture and takes inspiration from architecture, Stéphane Rolland has worked for Balenciaga and was promoted to Creative Director within a year. Cheryl Cole is a big fan of Rolland: she was seen wearing his designs at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

These couturiers didn’t just decide to dabble in haute couture. To qualify as haute couture, members of the Chamber must follow these strict rules:

1) Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings

2) Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least 15 people full-time

3) Present a collection to the Paris press each season with at least 35 runs with outfits for both daytime and evening wear

While Paris does not have to be the first stop for grand couturiers (that is their official title), Singapore will serve as the gateway to couture Asia as designers look set to ride the Eastern wave in the next few years. For a country that just recently broke into the Top 10 fashion capitals in the world based on media coverage, it remains to be seen if this is one step too hasty or if the time really is right.

Singapore, a fashion capital: Has our time finally arrived? (Credit: Global Language Monitor)

Singapore, a fashion capital: Has our time finally arrived? (Credit: Global Language Monitor)

If indeed the time is right, it only seems necessary that WFW provide something different than Paris: after all, how many editors and buyers are going to travel again to Singapore when they can just head to Paris? Our eyes are set firmly on the Asian Couture Showcase on Day 1 of WFW – this will be the true sign that Singapore is not just only going to rub off the glamour of Paris as Asian and Singapore designers take centrestage.

If there is a time for Asia to shine, this is it.

Now here’s the bad news: no Franck Sorbier is going to happen here. Yup, the event, organised by Fide Multimedia and SENATUS, is by invite only. However, a ready-to-wear exhibition from 21st-23rd October and haute couture exhibition from 6th-31st October will allow the public to get the sense that yes, we are indeed worthy of the title “fashion capital”. Even New York has their fair share of people who don’t bother dressing stylishly, so according to WFW chairman Frank Cintamani, “why beat ourselves up”?

This is our beef: Are two exhibitions enough to educate the masses on the beauty and craftsmanship of haute couture? Most haute couture shows in Paris are invite-only but Franck Sorbier decided to open his show to the public last year simply because an experience needs to be felt in the flesh. I love this quote he said to Associated Press: “You can buy tickets to concerts, to plays, to standup comedy acts, and really a fashion show is a kind of spectacle too with drama, emotion and beauty. So I figured, why not sell tickets to my show too?”

From now till D-Day, Popspoken will be bringing you extensive coverage of WFW 2011. Look out for guides, profiles and opinions from the fashion scene about WFW. I’m sure the Popspoken team will have different opinions on WFW as well; don’t you just love a catfight intense debate? It’s gonna be one interesting week.

We just hope there are no barricades in front-row seating this time. We do want to see who’s in front row – isn’t that the point of seating in the front?

xx Shah

P.S. Check out our Facebook album of the WFW press conference + more designs by Stéphane & Gustavo here!