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Meet 16 Singaporeans Who Are Breaking The Rules In Fashion, Music, Art & Design

Call them outre, alternative, avant-garde, rule breakers who are anything but conventional. From the way they dress to the craft they hone, the folks in the gallery below make a strong case for their individuality and plain daring.

The Comme Connoisseur
Who: Lim Ju-Lynn, director of contemporary art gallery Lee Ban Lu Her X Factor: She’s our answer to Michelle Elie, the Haitian-born jewellery designer who’s become a Fashion Week street-style favourite with her uniform of full-look Comme des Garcons. Lim’s devotion to the Japanese label started almost two decades ago, when she bought her first piece from its iconic S/S ’97 “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body” collection (boasting feminine dresses with misshapen lumps, it’s incidentally the same one that sparked off Elie’s obsession). Now she “collects” at least one item every season, treating them not only as wardrobe staples, but also art works that – not unlike the ones in her gallery (think Thai painter Parn Somnuek Klangnok’s overly doe-eyed portraits) – experiment with proportions, colour and geometry. Of Rei Kawakubo’s genius, she says: “While it’s easy to get tired of some designers, there’s always a joy (that comes from) wearing her clothes – even though there are still times when I have trouble finding the armholes.” The Ink Masters
Who (from left): Josephine Chan, apprentice at The Standard Tattoo Co.; Jade Quinton, artist at King Kong Tattoo; and Kurt Pereira, artist at Bada Bink! Tattoo Firm Their X Factor: With ages ranging from 23 to 27, this model-esque bunch form the next generation pushing tattoo design as a serious art form. Despite being the fledgling of the three, Chan’s already built an eclectic clientele that includes the likes of a quantum physicist with her dark, surrealist take on nature drawings (imagine a bloom of roses with an eyeball peering out from among the petals). Starting out earlier at 19, Quinton’s a go-to among creative types for her vivid, highly intricate illustrations that range from a painterly Dumbo (yes, the Disney character) to a lavish peacock spanning the customer’s right glute to thigh. Besides putting as much as 20 hours into perfecting each work, her other ethos is that it “must look pretty”. In contrast, Pereira’s signature is all Marlon Brando bad-boy cool, and inspired by his own grandfather who was in the navy. The vintage style, Americana-tinged motifs (think ships and eagles) – hashed out in thick lines and strong colours like turquoise and lipstick red – have won him fans who travel from as far as Canada and the UK to get inked. Like an industry veteran, he says of his aesthetic: “There’s just something fascinating about the vintage appeal. Plus, they age beautifully.” The Alt-Rock Chanteuse
Who: Kelly Raphaelle Mak, aspiring singer/songwriter Her X Factor: Imagine Hope Sandoval repackaged into a sugar-sweet version of Grimes, and you get this 21-year-old who’s putting a Gen Z spin on ’90s dream pop. Like Sandoval – frontwoman of Mazzy Star, one of the genre’s most seminal bands – Mak’s voice boasts a wispy, child-like quality that, on covers like David Bowie’s Space Oddity, makes for a melodious brand of melancholia. Her image, meanwhile, is a blend of upbeat styles from punk (the septum piercing) to street (labels like Mash-Up and Lazy Oaf) to kawaii (the cotton candy pink locks). She says: “I’m a person of extremes, and am constantly rediscovering and reinventing my image. That individuality is what I bring to my music.” Already, she beat over 100 applicants to be a part of this year’s Noise Music Mentorship programme supported by the National Arts Council. The goal is to release an EP with five original compositions sometime after next March, but in the meantime, listen to her on Soundcloud. The Fashion Chameleon
Who: Linda Hao, stylist, art director, DJ, founder of fashion label Yesah, and Female Collective member Her X Factor: Like her multi-hyphenate ways, variety and experimentation are intrinsic to her personal style. For a while, she was a modern day Club Kid, thanks in part to her DJ’ing and the neon sports-meets-goth clothes she created under Yesah, which is currently on hiatus. These days, however, she’s taking inspiration from silver screen femme fatales like Juliette Lewis’ bad girl persona in Natural Born Killers (1994) – with charity shop finds, grungy separates, sneakers – and calling the look “the one”. She explains: “I used to put on a lot of things to create a character. Now, I know what looks good on my skin.” The 25-year-old certainly seems to have an affinity – and flair – for ’90s pop culture. As a freelance art director, she’s been working with emerging local photographer Marisse Caine on personal and commercial projects that ooze the era’s MTV-flecked nostalgia (you can see them on Caine’s Instagram @marizzecaine). Says Hao: “When we live in a world filled with digital images, we get more intrigued when we see something classic and almost B-grade.” The Gen Z Creatives
Who (from left): Nicole Ngai, aspiring photographer; Leona Ziyan, fashion retail and visual management student and creative director of fashion label Koth; Krystal Yeo, founder of Koth; and Julian Tan, aspiring photographer and makeup artist Their X Factor: First, you can’t miss them – not when they look like a posse of Harajuku goths with street cool and an insouciance that Demna Gvasalia would approve of. Don’t just dismiss them as a bunch of art school types though (Ziyan is at Temasek Polytechnic; Ngai just started at the London College of Fashion; and the others are alumni of Lasalle College of the Arts), as their work also possesses a rebellious streak that makes them ones to watch. Aspiring photographers Ngai and Tan – who work jointly under the moniker Juju x Nicole (@jujuxnicole) – take a cue from the field’s It girls like Harley Weir and Janneke van der Hagen. Taken using digital, film and disposable cameras, their images are raw, intimate and truly #nofilter – and have even caught the eye of Sukeban, the hip London-based online fashion photography portal that recently contacted them for a contribution. Meanwhile, Yeo is working on the official launch of her alternative streetwear label Koth, with bestie Ziyan as creative director. Describing the aesthetic as “ratchet luxe”, they blend ghetto and gothic cultures to create pieces one could imagine Rihanna and FKA Twigs in – both stars happen to be their muses. Though the brand is still a work in progress, it’s already made its catwalk debut with a line of harnesses and chokers for popular local label Mash-Up’s show at Digital Fashion Week last year. The Rock Stars
Who: Ted Dore and Cherie Ko of Tomgirl Their X Factor: With their hot-blooded, pop noir sounds and photogenic looks, this duo immediately brings to mind one of fashion’s favourite indie rock acts: The Kills. (Ko is also the lead guitarist of fuzz pop band Obedient Wives Club and co-founded the now defunct electronic pop outfit Pastelpower.) The duo met two years ago here at Laneway, and aim to fill a void in the Singapore music scene with a “rock ’n’ roll edge that flirts with danger and sexuality”.  And how exactly do they intend to do that? By drawing inspiration from the film directors whose work exude the same spirit: Quentin Tarantino, Russ Meyer and Jim Jarmusch. The music video for their debut single Darker Now, which premiered on Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio in July, is in fact inspired by Tarantino’s brand of pulp chic. Next up: the launch of their album with a concert at The Esplanade’s Mosaic Music Weekend on Sept 4. The Crochet Artist
Who: Kelly Lim, graphic designer and knit specialist Her X Factor: While the likes of Ryan Roche and The Elder Statesman have given knitting a high fashion gleam, this 25-year-old has taken the humble craft into street and pop art territory. Things she has knitted in her trademark, unicorn-hued loops of yarn: the side mirrors of a Vespa, a bicycle, mobile phones and – believe it or not – hair. (Visit to buy detachable braids and dreadlocks similar to the ones she sports here.) Picking up knitting as a child, she saw its potential as an art form while studying apparel design at Temasek Polytechnic. Her final year project was a sculpted crocheted dress with a futuristic twist. With a longtime affinity for monsters and the bizarre, every work is cartoon cute in a twisted way – and that’s only gotten the collaborators calling. Last year, local designer Josiah Chua got her to create neon dreadlocked ’dos for the models in his look book (the collection was inspired by manga). This month: a crochet tie-up with Teva (yup, the sports sandals brand) and Muji. The Cultural Raver
Who: Nadia Rahmat, events coordinator, model and Female Collective member Her X Factor: You could say it’s her half-shaven head, or Club Kid-meets-’90s-street get-up. But ask her what’s the most badass thing about her style, and she’ll say it’s the ethnic jewellery she wears like a uniform. Regardless of occasion or outfit, she completes her look with the likes of an Indian Tikka forehead pendant or Arab belly dancer’s belt, part of a personal stash of over 20 pieces. While they make a strong fashion statement, they’re in fact her way of reflecting her Malay/Arab/Indian heritage. She says: “Showing my ethnicity is important as people will ask about the culture. In that sense, I help get them interested in it.” Rahmat wears her own bodysuit and nose chain from Little India; Hair Ken Wong/Blow+Bar, using Kevin Murphy Makeup Zann Thiang/ See: Style lessons on dressing for hot weather c/o Nadia Rahmat, Aarika Lee, Velda Tan & more. The Japanese Scenesters
Who (from left): Fumiko Kawaguchi, fashion director and stylist, and Kantaro Suzuki, managing director and hairstylist at Lim Their X Factor: Irreverence is their style mantra. Suzuki, who shuttles between Japan and Singapore once a month to cater to his clients at his salons 1tto+Lim at New Bridge Road and Kizuki+Lim at Raffles Hotel, jokes that he’s a “fashion yakuza”, what with his heavily tattooed body. Zero in on the details though, and it becomes clear that the dude just likes to have fun with fashion. His latest ’do, for example, consists of peroxide blonde milkmaid plaits (a mixture of his own hair and extensions) and a bald patch on top of his head. On his nails: a monotone mix of glitter, gloss and ombre varnish, done at his own nail salon Kiyone+Lim. Meanwhile, longtime pal Kawaguchi – a Kyoto transplant who’s been living in Singapore for 10 years and works with Japanese clients like Shibuya 109 – puts a pretty yet utilitarian spin on grandma chic. With Iris Apfel as her #styleinspo, her typical look – day or night – consists of layering the likes of tulle skirts, tunics and oversized shirt dresses with vintage designer jackets (she owns about 30), handbags (Chanel’s her favourite), and plenty of costume jewellery. She says of her look: “As one gets older, you become more certain of your style, and don’t care what others think about you. I like that confidence.” All clothes and accessories, Kawaguchi and Suzuki’s own; Hair Ken Wong/Blow+Bar, using Kevin Murphy Makeup Zann Thiang/ Photography Vee Chin styling Imran Jalal, assisted by Shantal Chan & Lee Han Wei An adapted version first appeared in Female’s September 2016 issue. Like this? Find out which fun fashion tribe you belong to, see how Singapore It girls Yoyo Cao, Velda Tan & more pull-off white dressing, and Singapore actress Oon Shu An on her fashion and beauty must-haves.