TGC's fashion experiment in Singapore21 September, 2011 by Chad
Last Sunday, the Singapore Indoor Stadium played host to the World Runway Premiere. The event, the first of its kind in here, was helmed by none other than the creator of the world famous Tokyo Girls Collection. Stylists from around the world were invited to take part in a fashion battle, with Singapore as their arena. We were there to cover this historic moment.
We had previously covered the concept of the World Runway Premiere and were very supportive of the idea. But public response to this foreign idea seemed to be generally lackluster. So we were pretty surprised that quite a number of people (approximately 4,500) did turn up for this debut event, if only for the artists appearing.
We met up with some acquaintances in the crowd and a big thanks to JPH!P’s Maliciel who contributed to this collection of photographs.
While I was familiar with the sister event of Tokyo Girls Collection, the World Runway promised to be something quite different. So like most of the guests here today, we weren’t quite sure what to expect.
The show began with a surprise appearance by Ren Kido, a relatively unknown Japanese artist and a preview of local stylist Jen Su’s own collection, modeled by what I was told were two local celebrities.
The contestants from the 8 participating countries were brought out and introduced in turn. Leading the teams were Marcia Amaral (Brazil), Amina Abadala (France), Morena (Italy), Kawasaki Takafumi (Japan), Alexey Pantykin (Russia), Jen Su (Singapore) and Mike Adler (UK).
Unfortunately, Evan Czar (Vogue Brazil’s International Correspondent for Asia) who had contributed greatly to the concept of the show still could not clear up his visa problems and was stuck in Japan, leaving a spot in the judging panel empty.
The looks were generally toned down in comparison to other runway shows. But perhaps it was because of Evan’s absence that the execution of the styles ended up still leaning toward high concept, alienating many of the show’s general audience.
This was most apparent by the awkward silences by the crowd. The only cheers were prompted not by the looks themselves, but the crowd felt it appropriate to cheer at silly moments such as whenever a model lost her balance or when they wielded props. Unsurprisingly, the loudest roars came when the models for Japan unfolded their large paper fans and parasols.
Whether intentional or not, all of the looks assembled today reflected the stylist’s own cultural influences greatly. While many of the looks could still be appreciated at the concept level, France and Brazil had some of the more pragmatic designs.
Singapore’s collection was reflective of Jen Su’s own personal style, with lots of loud colors reminiscent of the 80s. It ended up being one of the better showcases today too. But still not something that would resound with the public like the wearable street fashion and department store brands of the Tokyo Girls Collection.
An interlude saw NARE, an upcoming female artist from Korea wowing the crowd with her impressive vocals. She performed an original new song on this occasion.
After, the teams gathered as the World Runway director Mr Sugar emerged to deliver the judges decisions. Four teams would make it through for this first round, which ended up being Japan, Singapore, France and the UK.
For the next round, the winners each picked one of the eliminated countries to collaborate with. By fusing the other team’s previous styles with theirs, they created new showcases for the second, final round.
This unconventional approach lead to new interesting looks for the second half of the show. While many unveiled creative or new arrangements for this new round, France’s showing did not differ much, which would ultimately lead to their demise.
The second round ended with an elaborate parade by the UK, with pieces that looked suspiciously like those from a Vivienne Westwood collection. It was revealed later during the interviews, that they indeed were, as she had decided to provide some last minute help through the local outlet here.
While awaiting the final results, Korean pop star SE7EN took to the stage to perform. The singer’s energetic dance moves and vocals seemed to be the main highlight for many of today’s visitors. Excited squeals filled the air, with even some of the invited media being reduced to preppy fan girls. Still it was kind of disappointing that a large number of the crowd started leaving as soon as his performance ended.
The judging for the second round was broken down into a clear score sheet, with the results of each country displayed in turn on screen. Singapore and France did not fare well. It was the UK that eventually walked away victorious, beating the other teams by a sizable margin.
The winning team got to walk away with a SGD$100,000 prize. In the spirit of the show, half of it was to be donated to a social cause. This year, the prize would go to the relief efforts in Japan but subsequent recipients would be chosen by the winning team.
After the show, we took to the backstage for some afterwords with the winning team. They were incredibly thankful for the opportunity and accredited their victory to a combined team effort. They were particularly grateful for Italy’s help in the finals, describing the other team’s willingness to jump in to help them create the new styles during the 20 minute break.
Leader Mike Adler mentioned that they managed to build links with the other teams during the pass week, laughing that it was surprising that no one had been hurt, despite all of them staying at the same hotel in the past week.
We were also graced by the two organizers from Japan, Jake F.R and Mr Sugar. The former informally urging the later to do most of the talking on account of his lack of sleep and his nervousness. They mirrored positive sentiments about the show, considering that this was still a trial and acknowledging that it would take time to grow. Still they were hopeful of better things to come and intend to expand the scope of World Runway next year.
When asked why they had decided to go with the World Runway instead of bringing the Tokyo Girls Collection per se to Singapore. Jake explained that it was the wishes of the Singapore Tourism Board, the sponsor for the event and doing so would not help Singapore find its own identity.
Regarding the issue of presenting real clothes, they did acknowledge that it was their initial goal but felt that the event was overall a success, due to the stylists being able to pull it off solely with clothing found in Singapore. Mike Adler added that he was surprised to find that Singapore has more European brands available than even London.
Well, that’s it for this year’s event. The World Runway is still working out some of its kinks as it sees what works and what doesn’t in this different market. But we will be looking forward to see where it will go and what role it will play in the Singapore fashion scene in the future.