As a fashion design alum of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Nara Ayuni Jailani sure knows the challenges of a fledgling designer in getting their brand name out there. Which explains why the stylist, who works for a local fashion production house has no qualms about donning the works of her peers and graduate fashion students with pride and sharing them on her ‘gram.
“Most of the connections I have right now are people I met back in school and also the people I hang with just tend to all be a bunch of creatives,” says the 22-year-old who was decked out in an all-white puffer jacket and pants combo by her pal @putripiink. The piece comes adorned with a pretty trail of tulle on the back and a matching belt made of faux pearls. “My friends have remarkable talent, it’s ridiculous.”
Indeed, this mild-mannered creative has a big knack for today’s youth fashion that’s grounded in street culture, ’90s vintage style and a gender-fluid aesthetic. But there is always a sense of polish and sophistication with the way she puts everything together.
Perhaps, her fascination with Korean street style has rubbed off. “I went to Seoul for the first time last year for a holiday and I was taken aback and absolutely amazed by how immaculately dressed everyone was. You could tell they put so much effort not only in the way they dress but hair and makeup too. Everyone was a 100, all the time. I guess it’s just standard culture there and I’m all for it.”
Describe your sense of style.
“I really dig the whole model-off-duty look — anything that says, ‘I woke up, threw a bunch of things together but best believe I look fine as hell’. Everything needs to look effortless like I didn’t even try. I’d say I try and ace feminine style in a cool way with lots of mixing it up such as dresses with boots and interesting sunglasses for a basic getup. It’s all about the details, details, details.”
Why does Korean street fashion resonate with you personally?
“Compared to street style from cities like Paris or London, the one from Seoul is mostly populated by young students. They have no choice but to get creative with their looks on a relatively low budget. You rarely get full designer get-ups — the only people that do dress like that are sponsored models or social media influencers who are seeded outfits.
Most of the gems I got from my trips to Seoul are from underground thrift shops and random small stores. You never know what you can come across there. I get so inspired by everyone and everything, That’s why I keep going back.”
Who are some of the homegrown fashion designers that are on your radar?
“I really dig what my friends at Youths in Balaclava are doing. I think what stands out the most about their brand is the fact that they’re just not afraid to break the status quo. Have you seen the way the boys dress? Blows my mind. It’s bold, nothing like what the people here are used to and I really like that.”
How do music and pop culture influence your work and personal style?
“I feel pop culture is an important reference point in fashion. I get ideas by appropriating looks I see in music videos.”
Who are your fashion influences?
“I don’t particularly have a single person that I look up to. Lately, I’m into wearing lingerie on the outside. Corsets or bustiers over T-shirts, button-down shirts, dresses, or lace bodysuits with flare tailored pants and such. Hey if it’s pretty, why not show it off right? I remember seeing that one photo of Kim Kardashian West in a lace bodysuit with Adidas track pants and pointed heels and I just thought, ‘OMG. Genius.’ I’ve been into the look ever since and I’m not going back.”
What is a recent purchase you really dig and why?
“A neon green lace camisole! I don’t really like wearing bright colours. I actually hate the colour green but this piece was just something I had to have.”
Who is one designer you are obsessed with at the moment, and why?
“I’m obsessed with Seoul label Blindness. The things they do are very gender fluid and strike a perfect balance of femininity and masculinity. I saw their show for the first time last year during Seoul Fashion Week and it made me cry. It was beautiful — breathtaking even. Just picture a bunch of beautiful boys in long ruffled dresses and structured bombers, covered in pearls walking to Lana Del Rey. I really think it’s what my dreams are made of.”
The go-to brand for basics?
“I love a good deep V-neck white T-shirt. It’s a staple for me and I always get mine from Zara.”
The go-to brand for shoes?
“I’ve been in a relationship with my Jadon boots from Dr Martens for two years now. I’m obsessed. It goes well with everything, I don’t like wearing dresses, but when and if I do, I’ll always pair it with my Jadons. They make me feel like a bad b***h, you know. Most girls get that empowerment from six-inch heels, mine is from my boots.”