Although Kenneth Chia is one of the industry’s emerging makeup and hair artistry talents, it might surprise you to know that the 27-year-old has his roots as a trained actor and theatre practitioner. Chia, who says he’s always had an interest in fashion imagery, got into the business from a combination of encouragement and happenstance.
Creative burnout from acting and writing, as well as friends and colleagues from the theatre and film production world pushed him into his earliest opportunities. “I was trained on-set and thrown into the deep end at the beginning. I didn’t have a sense then of the makeup schools or the industry because, as an actor, I was working on a different side of things” describes Chia of his start.
In a swift three years, Chia has gone from “impromptu hotel party mascara fixer” (his words) to a makeup artist who’s worked with the likes of Narelle Kheng and Iman Fandi. His conceptual eye and confident hand have made him a fixture on the local fashion and beauty scene. Here, he lets us in on how he taps on connection in his work.
Makeup artist and hair stylist Kenneth Chia, also known as @kenmuu on Instagram
What’s your take on Singapore’s fashion identity today?
“It’s diverse and exciting.”
What’s the first word that comes to mind when we mention Singapore fashion?
“Going somewhere good, but it’s not quite there yet.”
What’s one defining memory of Singapore fashion for you?
“The SIA girl. I love glamour, and it’s always been such an enduring fashion image to me. They’ve always looked so glamorous and aspirational – not just the job, but the sense of unattainable poise when they walk past you.”
Iman Fandi photographed with makeup by Kenneth Chia
Favourite Singapore fashion label?
“I’m excited about Putri Adif and Samuel Xun’s work. We’ve missed that energy, and Singapore clothes always seem geared towards practicality. There’s a side of me that wishes for extra clothes – I want the vision of the designer to be unapologetically out there.”
Is Singapore a fashion city?
“Insofar as we have a distinct dress code of practicality and dressing for the humidity – that’s fashion too.”
What can we do to make it better?
“Less hand wringing – let’s just do it, just go for it!”
Complete this sentence: In future, I hope that in Singapore fashion…
“Is a space for everyone.”