The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) has had some major fashion exhibitions – one prime example being the blockbuster Guo Pei: Chinese Art & Couture one from 2019. Last year, the museum also opened two new permanent galleries dedicated to historical fashion and textiles, as well as jewellery.
Fast forward to this month and the latest exhibition at the museum, titled #SGFASHIONNOW, takes a decidedly different direction from previous works.
For one, it’s the ACM’s inaugural display of Singapore contemporary fashion. What’s also notable is that the exhibition was executed in collaboration with Lasalle College of the Arts’ School of Fashion and the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF), marking the ACM’s first multi-party partnership within Singapore’s fashion ecosystem.
Designs by the finalists of last year’s Singapore Stories fashion design competition organised by the TaFF are on display in the museum’s lobby. TaFF is one of two key partners for the #SGFASHIONNOW exhibition.
#SGFASHIONNOW comprises of two sections: the first being ACM x TaFF, where four ensembles by Singapore-based finalists of TaFF’s fashion design competition Singapore Stories 2020 are displayed in the lobby.
The second segment (ACM X LASALLE) is where things get heated up. It showcases creations by a total of eight practising local designers: Andrew Gn, Baelf Design, Laichan, Ong Shunmugam, Studio HHFZ, Stylemart, Carol Chen and Time Taken to Make a Dress (a.k.a. the studio behind the striking dress Constance Lau wore to the Hollywood premiere of Crazy Rich Asians).
The second section of the exhibition, co-curated with students from Lasalle College of the Arts’s School of Fashion, presents works by eight practising Singapore or Singapore-based designers.
Admittedly, the list of names in the Lasalle segment comes across as a tad unusual, given the contrast between well-established veterans such as Andrew Gn and Lai Chan with younger emerging labels. Just take Baelf Design, for instance, which specialises in using 3D printing technology to address ongoing social and environmental issues.
The rationale behind this unusual roster of designers is down to the fact that, for the first time, the museum has shared curatorial duties with external parties.
In this case, the latter are five final-year students at Lasalle College of the Art’s School of Fashion: Gabrielle Yeo, Celestine Wong, Jessica Faustine Suwito, Felicia Toh, and Guo Li Le.
The look by Baelf Design, which is known for its technology-driven approach to fashion (notably usage of 3D printing).
As part of the partnership with ACM, the five students proposed the central exhibition theme of “craftsmanship” and proposed four designers’ works (Baelf Design, Stylemart, Studio HHFZ, and Time Taken to Make a Dress).
Meanwhile, ACM’s Fashion and Textiles curator Jackie Yoong selected Andrew Gn, Lai Chan and Ong Shunmugan. Lastly, TaFF is represented via Carol Chen who snagged the win at the Singapore Stories 2020 fashion design competition.
Piqued? Ahead of #SGFASHIONNOW‘s opening this Friday (June 25), we spoke to ACM curator Yoong on the thought process behind this exhibition and why it’s not intended to be a retrospective of Singapore’s fashion history.