Back in 2018, when FEMALE first profiled her, Rachael Cheong was a recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague – singled out as one of the top students of her cohort for her singular vision in creating girlish, vintage doll-esque garments and accessories that make one think of the anime character Cardcaptor Sakura – except Cheong’s version might carry a mace trimmed with pink ribbons.
Looks from Cheong’s graduate collection back in 2017
Quite fitting, given this is the designer who previously shared with us that she likes to think of her personal style as that of a “quiet village maiden, who is secretly a love magic cult leader.”
The designer and artist had yet to even officially kick off her label in 2018, but fast forward five years on, and the 29-year-old now runs her brand, Closet Children, full-time, while also making fun, experiential artworks as one-half of the artist collective Awkward Party.
She’s had her work displayed at the Asian Civilisations Museum as part of the institution’s #SGFASHIONOW exhibition, while musicians such as ambient folk sorceress April Lee of Aspisdistrafly have reached out to her for commissions.
A recent Closet Children creation for a customer.
Cheong has come to be beloved for her jewellery – she’s got a small-ish but ardent following of more than 12,000 on Instagram, where her sparkly-meets-spiky aesthetic feeds the voracious appetite of those who might be into #witch or #fairycore – or even just anyone who’s looking for a little metal-laced magic in their everyday lives.
But she’s also in the midst of bigger things: she’s currently prepping for “My Girlfriend The Showroom Dummy” – her first full-scale collection of garments and accessories that will see Cheong building a more fleshed-out world that explores the nebulous intersection of femininity and violence.
While that collection is only slated to launch next year, we thought it opportune to get an update with Cheong on what it’s been like through her journey as an independent designer in Singapore – here, she shares her thoughts: