Mention beadwork and images of indigenous accessories, religious and paraphernalia will naturally come to mind. But in the fashion world, the retro-inflected material is something of a design gem.
For example, Scandinavian jewellery brand Anni Lu has amassed a steady following thanks to its chic beaded bracelets and necklaces. Native American designers like Jamie Okuma are also working to modernise the craft of beadwork. Okuma’s most recognised piece is her hand-beaded Christian Louboutin shoes.
Then there is the young Central Saint Martins alumna and LVMH Prize 2019 nominee Susan Fang who is celebrated for her ethereal bubble-like bead bags and creations.
Denise Chong is a second-year undergraduate at Lasalle College of the Arts and dabbled in the art of beadwork during the circuit breaker.
Over on our shores, 22-year-old Denise Chong is paving the way as a beadwork designer with her creations that seem to have stepped out of the Mod universe ruled by Paco Rabanne and the recently departed Pierre Cardin.
The second-year Fashion Media undergraduate of Lasalle College of the Arts discovered her passion for the craft during Singapore’s circuit breaker, with more time on her hands for personal projects.
Chong is intrigued by how fashion can be used as “an art form [that] provokes the human mind” which explains her experimental approach to her designs.
The student, who considers beadwork design as a pet project, launched her first collection ‘Coercion’ soon after, comprising headwear and garments like a mini skirt and bralette. Provocative, subversive, and bearing hints of a ’90s Helmut Lang-meets-modern-day-Nensi Dojaka aesthetic, the designs are Chong’s ode “to evoke the lustfulness of a woman’s body” and primed for the Gen-Z crowd.
The designs also serve as the perfect opportunity for this young creative to collaborate with her generation’s image makers like the photographers Feedbeng and Li Wanjie who have each immortalised her works in their photos.
Ahead, we chat with this up-and-coming designer about her craft.