Popspoken brings you daily dispatches from the 2014 Asia Fashion Exchange. Follow our daily blogs for off-the-wall (and maybe off-the-record) updates on the ins and outs of the fashion week, plus bits that most people will probably not get to see it. Because here, we bring you right to the meat of fashion. Provided fashion people actually do eat, in the first place.

On Day 1, the search is on for the next rising designer from Asia at the fifth edition of the Audi Star Creation fashion design competition. Three out of 12 finalists stand to win a cash prize of $10,000 and a one-year internship with fashion conglomerate F J Benjamin.

12:30pm

It’s a wrap for pre-judging at the [email protected] for the Audi Star Creation — the judges are having an advance look at the six-look collection each of the 12 finalists have to make for this year’s “The Asian Perspective”-themed challenge. Dick Lee, Odile Benjamin from F J Benjamin, Kenny Lim from Depression and David Wang from the Textiles and Fashion Federation (Singapore) were clearly involved in the judging process, oftentimes reaching out to feel the pieces, examine the stitching and peruse the moodboards designers had brought out.

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Speaking to 19-year-old Singapore contestant Chloe Keh Min — the youngest in the competition –, the alumnus from Temasek Polytechnic’s fashion design diploma said that she took six months to construct her “Grief” collection inspired by Japanese funerals. An organza-panelled dress is left to fray and geometric-blocked panels with grey felt embellishments can be detached if the wearer wants a cleaner look. A gathered grey tulle skirt represents the ashes left behind in such rituals and rectangular cutouts from a stacked dress signify Japanese tombstones.

Was she worried about commercial wearability? She emphasised that the pieces are simple in construction, but when paired together, it presents an avant-garde look. The young ‘un clearly has the smarts for the industry — and why not, for someone who used to intern under fashion show choreographer Daniel Boey.

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Kenny Lim is the representative from the Singapore fashion scene at this year’s judging. He feels his eight-year experience in the fashion scene hopefully gives him enough material to critique the collections and help young fashion upstarts brand their collections for sustainability. Kenny brings to the table a touch of freshness and says he is more excited for each designer’s brand concept rather than how the hems finish in their garments.

And yes, if you must know, Prabal Gurung is here.

3.00pm

Some backstage snaps from the Audi Star Creation show:

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5.30pm

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At the final runway, the top three awardees were Newman Han (South Korea), Zhou Jun (China) and Rebecca Corine Lam (Hong Kong). They each walk away with $10,000 and a one-year internship with F J Benjamin. The winners will get to develop their capsule collections and debut them at the next Audi Fashion Festival.

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Newman’s collection looked more like a militaristic ode to a Middle East voyager than the supposed intention of a science expeditor but it was still utilitarian, urbanwear perfection. Desert hats were given a touch of translucence while pockets of various sizes adorned coats, shirts and vests. We particularly loved the zipper detail on a pair of slim-cut shorts because, well, a man needs to air his thighs, no? Is that a thing?

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Zhou Jun’s animated self during the pre-judging definitely does not translate to a frivolous collection. His six-piece looks were tailored well, with oversized asymmetrical lapels on coats, double-flap pockets and pocket inserts sticking out in an elegant manner. He even took the dreaded megging and layered it with a panelled trenchcoat and a wavy-patterned turtleneck tube dress — on a guy, mind you — with the bottom half cut into strips, showing just the right amount of, erm, megging. The pattern draping here is a boon, creating a myriad of shapes with well-sewn hems.

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Rebecca’s edgy collection however, definitely takes the cake as a wearable yet intricate and equally funky set of looks. She used fabrics as if it were paper, cutting and folding them up into various patterns. Particularly interesting is a pencil skirt adorned with laser-cut triangular motifs that looked more like a graphic print rather than an arts-and-crafts project. After the win, an excited Rebecca said to Popspoken that she feels the Hong Kong fashion scene does not celebrate quirky and edgy designers as Singapore does and is happy to show her collection and ideas here.

But most importantly, all three winners had collections that were fresh, inspiring and yet well-edited, well-constructed and are ready for the retail racks. That is why they are winners not only today, but for their careers.

A Star Creation finalist will be given the Audi Young Designer Award tomorrow at the red carpet gala night.

Check back tomorrow for more dispatches.

All photos are from Popspoken, except for runway photos from Audi Star Creation.