For starters, these Singapore fashion lovers show us how they carry the season’s “it” accessories their way.
How would you describe your style?
“Monochrome, volume, and textures.”
What’s your favourite brand?
“Comme des Garcons – yeah, I think that’s about it.”
On a regular day of work, what do you wear when you’re teaching?
“It’s really minimal with a lot of pieces from Cos.”
How long do you usually take to get dressed?
“I don’t put on any makeup usually, so I just pick my clothes and then go.”
What about your glasses, do you have a signature pair?
“I actually like the cat eye look (especially if it’s from Celine). I’m hoping to get one in black which is very difficult to find now because Celine has stopped the production of this line.”
Where can we spot you?
“My husband (an interior design-trained third-generation hawker) and I like to joke that there are two types of markets we frequent most: the wet markets and Dover Street Market.”
What is your wet market look?
“A plain top, pants, and slippers.”
Amaliah wears 30 Montaigne polyester bucket hat with veil, Dior, and Valentino Garavani Atelier 03 Rose goatskin and nappa leather shoulder bag, Valentino, with her own Comme des Garcons dress, shirt and shoes, Celine glasses, Adlina Anis underscarf, assorted jewellery and Sonata Dancewear ballet tights
Why do you like wearing monochromatic colours?
“It’s just easy. I’ve liked wearing black since young. My penchant for wearing black stretched back to my younger days when I was the arts manager for homegrown music collective Rockstar Collective which ran the Identite gigs at the now-defunct Home Club every Friday night without fail. ”
So even then, dressing up in black came out because of practicality?
“Correct. So when I do wear colours, they’ll be something that’s loud and pop – like neon green or fuschia.”
What would you say are your wardrobe essentials?
“A shirt or a black dress.”
How important is fashion in your life?
“I think it is important because it speaks about who you are and it gives you confidence.”
Do people recognise you from Instagram for your distinct sense of style?
“We do get recognised by the younger crowd who are inspired by the hijab style of dressing. They would come up to me and my husband and ask if we are the guys from (my husband’s Instagram account) @rezzarezzarezza.”
How do you feel about appearing on your husband’s Instagram?
“I’m actually a behind-the-scenes person. That’s why I’m an arts manager and not an artist, you see. I prefer being behind the scenes but I let him do whatever he wants.”
Do you dress for Instagram?
“No. We dress for ourselves and not for the post.”
What’s your favourite item in your wardrobe right now?
“My Hermes Her bag, I bought it with my own hard-earned money. I hate it when people assume my husband bought it for me… Like girl, no.”
What’s an interesting anecdote about people’s responses to the way you dress.
“‘I can never pull it off.’ I end up telling them that they can, just put it on and walk out of the house.”
What are your sentiments about wearing the hijab?
“I used to be really sexy and I’d wear a mini dress or whatever with a V at the back. If you look at pictures of me last time you would really be shocked as I had blonde hair and tried various different hairstyles. Then I got married and we grew older and wiser. We started to learn more about our religion and that started to change everything. Wearing the hijab really boils down to a matter of faith and modesty. I’ve always known that once I am married or reach a certain maturity, I’ll be donning the hijab.”
Is it not a requisite for all women to wear the hijab or is it a personal choice?
“It actually is required in our faith. But because we are in a modern (and secular) society, it’s not enforced. Actually, by the time you hit puberty, a Muslim woman is actually supposed to cover her modesty.”
Where do you purchase hijabs? Do you get them tailor-made?
“My hijabs are very cheap. I got them in Jakarta at $10 for three pieces.”
What goes through your head when you get dressed?
“Usually my outfits are dictated by my mood.”
“For this interview today, I’d say that I’m in a good mood. I didn’t want to be too dressed up but I wanted to look cute and chill which is why I’m wearing this recently-purchased pants which are so Y2K with this cropped top which is very suitable for the climate right now. I always bring a cardigan because the weather is so unpredictable and it may get cold. But, let’s say that it’s a stressful week, I’d wear all black.”
What’s your relationship with wearing colour then?
“So yeah, the only other colour that I’m very comfortable wearing is red. I have this bizarre relationship with colour and I really wish that I can learn to love other colours too. Recently, I’ve been drawn to shades of blue like Electric Blue and Royal Blue. I get so jealous when I see others are so confident wearing colours. Maybe it’s just that my personality doesn’t match a colourful aesthetic”
You say that your personality doesn’t match colours. How would you describe your personality?
“I think I’m quite a shy person. I didn’t realise this until recently when somebody told me I was quite shy. I’m very guarded and I watch what I say to make sure I don’t offend anyone which is why I tend to be perceived as shy. But I think with my close friends, I’m super crazy.”
If you have to describe an outfit that personifies you, what would it be?
“A pair of black pants with a little bit of like a flare or a boot cut – and they’ve got to be tight. Also, a pair of boots – either the ones from Dr. Martens because they’re so comfortable and I like the super-rugged look, or a pair of cowboy boots. And lastly, my red batik corset. That’s very me.”
As a fashion designer, how much of your own clothing designs do you wear?
“Not much. Most people would say, ‘Oh you’re a designer, you can make your own stuff’. But I don’t have any time to design for myself; I’m either creating for others or working on a new collection.”
Putri wears Dioramour Small Book canvas tote, Dior, and denim pants, Bottega Veneta, with her own vintage Roberto Cavalli turtleneck top, Putri Adif bra top and Julian Hakes sandals
You marry traditional influences in your designs. Tell us more about the importance and significance of your Malay culture and heritage in your work.
“Growing up, I idolised Western culture. About a year or two ago, I started thinking about my own culture and ask myself why was it that I couldn’t love or appreciate it as much as somebody else’s. So I started to study and discover heritage fabrics like batik – its beauty is so underappreciated within my community and I wish that people would appreciate it as much as I do.
It was also during this time that I was very into corsets. It got me thinking: ‘Why don’t I put two and two together in the same way Vivienne Westwood popularised the Victorian-era corset with her punk and rebellious aesthetic?’. So I gave it a try and it turned out very well. I received a lot of positive reactions – not only from Malays but also from other races.”
Give us an example of how you modernise something traditional.
“It could be something very simple or adding a small element into an outfit like traditional brooches or gold bangles. Recently, I worked with Aisyah Aziz on a music video and we did one specific look with her wearing a semblance of batik that felt very current. We just wrapped it around her body, like a skirt and a headwrap too.”
What beautiful aspects of traditional Malay dressing do you do love so much?
“I love the beauty and symbolism of batik. When I started working with colourful batik fabric and prints, I quickly discovered how the fabric is inspired by symbols of traditional weapons and motifs. You begin to realise the stories behind the fabric – there’s so much history.
It’s somewhat similar to the heritage and story of tweed at Chanel. To look back and think that people in the past have so many creative ways to express their love for their culture or even to showcase their social status or wealth through fabrics is very interesting.
I also feel that I was going through an identity crisis at that time where I didn’t understand myself and who I was as a designer. I started to ask myself questions like, ‘Who am I and what am I?’ Why can’t I appreciate myself and my race?’.”
Putri wears Broche Vivier velvet belt with rhinestones, Roger Vivier, and Prada Vanity Saffiano leather and nylon bracelet (on right hand) and nylon purse with beaded fringe, Prada, with her own Mugler jacket, I.AM.GIA pants, gloves from a costume shop ad Julian Hakes sandals
Describe your style in five words.
“It’s so hard to describe. I love thrifting and looking for archival and vintage pieces. I don’t shop at mass places anymore.”
Do you have any memorable anecdotes about people’s reactions to the way you dress?
“I’d usually get comments like, ‘Why are you so dressed up?’ or ‘Where are you going?’ even from my own family. I guess it’s because I don’t own a pair of slippers.”
You don’t own a pair of slippers?
“I do have slides – are those considered slippers? I’ve not worn slippers in the longest time.”
Even when you’re buying things in the neighbourhood?
“I wear slides.”
Wow, even to the grocery run?
“And I don’t wear shorts too because I don’t feel comfortable in shorts.”
What are your thoughts on fashion and identity?
“People often say that fashion allows one to express oneself and I think that has created the mindset that we need to make an impression with what we wear all the time. I don’t think that it’s wrong – even I get caught up with it – but we should know that fashion does not define us. We tend to get labelled based on how we dress, but people will only know me if they get to know me personally.
Whenever I meet people who only know me from my Instagram, they’ll tell me that I seem more confident online. But I’m just the same as everyone else; I also have my own insecurities. I’m not that confident but I try to be. I’m still learning to love myself and I tell myself that the world is so superficial that we all rely on clothes and accessories to create this facade.”
What goes through your head when you’re dressing up?
“Since my kids are younger (one’s five and the other’s one), I usually think about what can I move in and not think about it too much. So with dressing, I’m okay with what’s comfortable and then I just go for that.”
Did you dress less comfortably before having kids?
“Yes. Before I had kids, it was very much about how the clothes looked. Even my attitude towards wardrobe maintenance has changed now. Before I was previously fine with doing dry cleaning and ironing. But now, it’s just too difficult.”
So, you just wear stuff you can throw in the wash?
“Yeah, I’m almost exclusively a ‘hand-wash/washing machine wardrobe’ person. I think extra hard if that piece requires a lot of maintenance – which is why I sort of wear the same thing over and over again.”
You’ve always been a fan of pleats and after your second child, we’ve noticed that you’ve become an even bigger fan.
“Yes, this is true, because of the ease. It’s so easy to mix and match. A few things I like about pleats: there’s no size discrimination, you can machine-wash them, you can wear all of your pleated items together, it’s great to travel with too and it’s super fun.”
How much of your wardrobe is Pleats Please Issey Miyake?
“More than half, at this point.”
So you bought even more pleated pieces after your second child?
“So I know that a lot of people have many kids but I have less and less time to put in the effort into things like ironing clothes, for instance. So when I started wearing really easy things like pleats, all of that time was cut out. I got back into dressing for myself in a weird way.
It’s a perspective thing, I guess. After the circuit breaker, it became less and less important to me to dress up. So it made a lot of sense to wear more practical, feel-good garments like wearing bright colours, wearing prints, pleats and vintage fashion.”
Yujuico wears a calfskin powder case on matching shoulder strap and monk strap shoes, Hermes, with her own Pleats Please Issey Miyake top and skirt, Celine rings and vintage Cartier watch
We’ve noticed you starting to be more active in documenting vintage again after the birth of your second child. Was it because you accumulated a larger collection or did it just happen naturally?
“I probably started documenting more. With vintage, I love the fact that there’s a sustainable aspect to it which I think is really important. Buying vintage is also in line with my needs as there is less fuss – you don’t have to bother about how imperfect some things look like since you got them in that condition and probably like them for that reason.”
You don’t think it’s hard to maintain?
“Vintage? No. You know, a lot of the vintage dresses I own can be hand-washed.”
Which is your favorite era for vintage?
“Oh, that’s tough. I like pieces reminiscent of Palm Springs chic during the time of Slim Aarons. There’s a lot of yellow pieces; it’s a bright, sunny, happy look. I think it’s actually super wearable here in Singapore.”
Tell us a little more about where you get your vintage from.
“A lot of my pieces are from eBay because you can get really good finds there, especially costume jewellery. What I find interesting is when you buy from estate sales because they’d send you a mixed bag of random pieces – up to 16 at times. Sometimes you can specify your preference – for me, I really like gold pieces and I don’t really wear earrings – but for the most part, what you’ll get boils down to a matter of good luck.
The buyers are also legit. A lot of them shop the sales in their area and then sell it on eBay. So they do the scouring in the flea markets and then resell them. If you find a seller that has a couple of pieces you like, chances are that you’ll like a lot of his or her wares because they would have more or less the same sort of tastes that you gravitate towards.”
It sounds like it’s actually a lot of fun.
“It is and it can be super cheap. I’ve bought a group of 12 necklaces once for $20. Only one piece was good, most of them were duds. But even then, I only spent $20!”
Have you always had this hobby with vintage shopping?
“Yes, it’s beautiful. But you really spend hours searching. Such an irony. You have to be patient because even if you make the bid, it can be uncertain. And since most of them are low ticket items, you can’t get a lot of information from the seller.”
What would you say are your biggest quirks when it comes to dressing up?
“I used to feel insecure about wearing the same exact outfit over and over again. Now, I find that if I repeat an outfit, it’s a sign that I’ve made the right choice with what I bought because I really love it. This means that the purchase was totally worth it. On top of this, I used to never wear colour when I was working but now I do; I think I’ve become less serious.”
Do you have funny or not anecdotes about people’s reactions to the way you dress?
“It’s usually from my husband. He’ll look at me all dressed up and would say, ‘You said earlier that you’re just going to the supermarket.’ Well, I dress for the mood more than the occasion. So if I feel like dressing up I don’t actually care where we’re going, I will just do it.”
What’s your supermarket run look?
“What I wear to run errands is almost the same as what I would wear for a dinner out with friends. I think I am usually verdressed. Is that a look?”
How would you describe your style?
“Fun. Having fun is the most important factor to me because I really dress up to feel good. The other stuffs are secondary.”
What goes through your head when you’re getting dressed?
“I’ll ask myself what’s the weather like for the day. I know it’s really strange but if it rains, I won’t wear certain things – likewise if it’s too hot. It also depends on where I’m going on that day – whether I’ll be out for a full day or for just half a day. It really depends on my mood too. There are days when I just feel like dressing up even though I’m merely running errands for two hours and heading home after that.”
What would this dressed up outfit be?
“The most dressed-up I’ve been was during a trip to the museum last month. I was in a full Comme des Garcons ensemble comprising a jacket, a short-sleeved shirt underneath, a skirt, and right down to my shoes. It was super hot that day, but I just felt like dressing up. It was a really nice day at the museum here in Singapore.”
What was the most dressed-up look you’ve worn while running an errand?
“I was also in full Comme des Garcons: I wore a basic white T-shirt, pants, a jacket, and sneakers just to buy groceries.”
What are some of your quirks when it comes to style and dressing up?
“Because so much of my clothing is in black, my outfits always look more quirky when I have a little pop of colour or details that stand out. It can be a pink top with a lot of frills or something that has a bit of sequins or a hairband that has full-on crystals and stuff like that. I feel such details kind of change the look of my dressing which can come across a very harsh and cold. But once you put that statement piece on, I feel that it changes not only the look but also the vibe of my outfit.”
Describe an outfit that personifies you.
“Sweats, T-shirts and sneakers. If I could, I want to be in my sweats every day to work, for an event or wedding. Give me my Nike sweatpants, my Nike sneakers, a simple oversized T-shirt or an oversized hoodie, and I am good to go.”
And if not, you’re always in Comme de Garcons?
“It’s either that or Comme. It’s very extreme for me, I have no in-betweens.”
I don’t think we’ve ever seen you in sweats.
“At home, I’m always in sweats.”
What’s the most precious item in your wardrobe?
“All of my mum’s old clothes when she was working in fashion. She worked for Charles Jourdan and helped my aunt when she first started working in Burberry. They’re very simple stuff like blouses and a floral Gucci T-shirt that’s almost 30 years old which she used to wear all the time when I was growing up. She’d passed it down to me but I haven’t worn it because it’s just very precious. I don’t want to get a stain on it or anything like that. There are also all of her old Burberry Prosum collection including the first trench coat she bought from the brand.”
Hassanbhai wears Fantasy tweed jacket, Chanel, embellished metal tiara, Prada, and Jackie 1961 mini leather hobo bag, Gucci, with her own Comme des Garcons shirt, skirt and shoes, and Vivienne Westwood socks
What is the one fashion store that you frequent the most?
“Comme des Garcons at the Hilton. My parents and I will go every month without fail. We’ll make a trip there.”
Even during Covid-19?
“After the circuit breaker was lifted, the first place we went to was the Comme store. The three of us will usually go to the store together and it will always be on a Saturday at either 11am or 2 pm before town gets crowded. We will go and makan first and then we’ll roll to the store after lunch.
Since we’ve been going there for so many years, the staff is almost like a mini family, you know. Even if we’re not there to shop, we’ll be there to just visit the staff, to talk to them, to try the clothes and will end up staying for almost two to three hours. Of course, I will always ask if I can get first dibs for the next season or what they’re bringing in next.”
Sometimes, it’s not with the intention of buying?
“Before, I will feel very unhappy if I walk out of the store not buying anything. But ever since Covid hit, I don’t feel that way anymore. Now I ponder if I do I really need another jacket or where I will be going in that jacket because I won’t be travelling anytime soon.
I’ve actually opened my wardrobe and realised there were so many things that still had their price tags on. Even just now, when I was unpacking for the shoot, there were items with their price tags still on because I have this very bad habit where I will save new purchases that are nice for special occasions.”
Has that changed with Covid?
“In a way, yes. Now I’m just like ‘Just wear, lah’. I’ll go out and wear what I want, and so what if I sweat? It’s more about going out, having fun and feeling good. If people are going to judge, let them. In the beginning, I might be conscious of wearing my Comme pieces because they can be a bit crazy.”
Does that make you self-conscious?
“I did feel very conscious about whether I was pushing it out there a little too much. But after a while, I really don’t care. This is who I am and this is how I’m gonna dress. I will not conform to how society expects me to look or dress.”
When do you think this aspect of you really start to develop?
“I think once I hit my mid-20s, I started becoming more comfortable with myself in terms of dressing. Though I think that once I hit my late 20s and turned 30, there was a big shift in the way I think about myself physically and mentally.
When I dress up, it always feel like I have on an armour – it’s like my shield of protection. It can give the people who want to try get close to you a feeling of intimidation or fear. Sometimes you want to tear down that wall, but at the same time you want to protect yourself because you don’t want to get hurt. I’m very protective of the people around me and especially when I wear Comme, I tend to be a bit colder. But I don’t mean it intentionally, it’s just the way I am.”
You’re fine with that?
“I mean, a lot of people say it’s not a good thing because you prevent a lot of people from getting to know who you are as a person. But circumstances in the past year made rethink my priorities. Covid has made all of us sit down in our little corners and reflect on what we really want in life and what is important to us.
I think that even in terms of shopping, it also changes my perspective of things. It makes me question whether I really need to buy something as much as I loved a collection I saw. And how much space do I have in my wardrobe? That’s also another thing.”
Do you rent a storage space?
“I have a storage space but it’s not very big. Having it can be a scary thing, though, because besides the fact that you can’t access your clothes readily, you tend to forget what is there too. But sometimes it can feel very nice to see clothes you own from 10 years ago. Also, because my mum’s stuff is in there too.
Did you get your mum hooked on Comme?
“I did. Before she thought that the clothes were too baggy, too loose and that things were falling apart everywhere. She didn’t get it in the beginning. The turning point was during a trip to Japan six years ago. The staff at the Comme store in Osaka encouraged her to try something on and helped put together outfits for my mum. My mum was very impressed. For one, she actually looks good in the brand and can pull it off. Secondly, she likes the clothes because most of them come with elastic so they’re very comfortable and easy to wear.”
Who would you say are your fashion heroes?
“My cousin was the one who introduced me to Comme when I was 17. He bought me my first pair of Comme pants at the brand’s Guerilla store in Bukit Merah for my birthday. I still have those pants and the paper bag that came with it.
When he got married, he and his bride wore Comme outfits. In fact, my whole family wore Comme for his wedding and I’m just like, ‘Yeah, this is cool’. It was just different for me to see something that was not within the box. That was the first wedding I attended that was just different – there was no flowy dress, the veil was draped over the bride’s body, my cousin was wearing dropped crotch pants.
My mum is my other fashion hero. I won’t say she’s conservative but she has always been very particular about the way we dress. She believes that there’s always a right place and a right time to wear certain things. I think that has left a very big impact on me since a young age.”
What’s your ultimate fashion dream?
“Some might think that it’s Comme-related, but it is actually to go to India and meet one of my favourite designers there, Sabyasachi Mukherjee. His designs are so intricate and beautiful. That and that my late grandfather was still around. I was very close to him growing up and he was the one who made me appreciate my Indian heritage (her dad’s India; mum Chinese) and, with that, traditional Indian clothing that I find myself wanting to wear and own more of as I grow older.”
Have you worn stuff like that?
“When my brother and my cousin got married, we were in full traditional Indian clothes. It’s something that I’m very proud of, especially as I get older. My mum tends to wear Indian clothes when we go to formal events or gala dinners or weddings. She may be Chinese but she’s embraced my father’s heritage quite a lot and was very close to my Indian grandfather as well. So, my fashion dream is really to go back to India, to meet the designer, and just be surrounded by my Indian heritage in the motherland. That and having the chance to touch and feel the intricate fabrics. When my brother got married, the costumes were made from gold thread and had so much beadwork that felt like they weighed a ton!”
You’re an artist who mainly focuses on textile design but what would you say is your specialisation in university?
“Embroidery for womenswear.”
What’s the latest thing you’re working on now?
“I’m going back to square one and making material experiments that may turn into some sort of objects or mini sculpture that might be presented as a window display. I am going to identify a few materials that I really want to try working with like ugly printed gift wrap cellophane that could be sold at Art Friend and attempt to make a new material or fabric.”
What’s in your head when you get dressed?
“Because I just started doing freelance work and I’m balancing different jobs, I’m just thinking about what’s my day going to be like and how it’ll be. I teach calligraphy on the weekends, I’m also a wardrobe assistant, I’m starting my own studio work, I’m working with (experiential installation) Awkward Party, and possibly doing programming for a friend’s food space. So, it’s just a lot of code-switching with regard to my outfits.
Right now, I’m trying to shop less and plan out what I want to wear for the full week ahead of time. I guess I’m also trying to be more conscious of the things I buy own and I’m really trying to get mileage out of things I own. I try to develop a more fun relationship with my clothes and instead of just wearing the same outfit, the same way.”
How big is your wardrobe?
“Big. I feel like it’s always growing but it’s quite minimal. I have an inventory of everything that I own on my phone – 90 per cent of the images are of me dressed in my wardrobe – so that when I buy new clothes, I can make smarter decisions. For instance, if I’ve got too many nude-coloured things, I could consider getting more greys or browns.”
Basics to me are…
“Wide-legged jeans with denim frays or a super crazy mesh top. I essentially whittled my wardrobe to that and started to recreate and grow my style around these pieces. I just wanted to create a fun way of keeping track of the clothes so that I can always refer to them when I’m shopping or when I talk to friends about style.”
How many photos do you have on your phone?
“I’ve two folders of photos in my phone – one’s labelled ‘Wardrobe’ and the other’s labelled ‘Downtime Wardrobe’. The former contains 69 photos while the latter has 24 photos. Items such as my bras, shoes, belts, and my key earrings are included but photos of my rings aren’t inside.
Key earrings are what I allow myself to buy once every year as I’m trying to venture into buying more demi-fine jewellery instead of costume jewellery pieces. So, they tend to be a bit more expensive, but I really take care of them and want to stretch their mileage for a minimum of 10 to 15 years. Recently, I bought something from Wolf Circus, a Canadian sustainable demi-fine jewellery brand.”
Goh wears a Fringe Pouch nappa leather and shearling clutch, Bottega Veneta, silk leggings, Prada, and Pointy Covered Buckle patent leather boots, Roger Vivier, with her own customised Closet Children dress, hair clips from Kanel Denmark and Amazon, customised earring from Shanghai, vintage Wolfgang Proksch glasses and assorted rings
Describe an outfit that personifies you.
“It’s a pink silk translucent shift dress with a lot of embroidered palm trees embroidered on the front that I bought in Shanghai. I’ll wear a black cropped top underneath with my biker shorts and pair it with my Puma sneakers.”
What would you wear when you’re doing errands?
“A black long-sleeved mesh turtleneck top with a lacy bra and my SJYP faded denim jeans that I acquired from (luxury consignment store) The RealReal. The shoes would be the same Puma sneakers.”
What do you say to people who look at you and wonder about what you’re wearing?
“I’ve had a friend say to me, ‘Your style is very auntie. You need to make sure that it is intentional auntie and not bad auntie.’.”
What has been the best compliment someone had said about your style?
“I think people have said that my wardrobe is really a gold mine, and wonder how I even acquired some of these things that I own. That and how only I can pull them off.”
What comes to your mind when you think of the correlation between fashion and how it can express identity?
“It’s really very important to feel comfortable with the things you wear. For me clothing is all about practicality; I need to move around in them, to sit in them and feel good in them. I know what silhouettes suit me and my body type best. Right now, I just want to experiment with things that are a little bit more daring.”
Any parting fashion tips and hacks?
“I’ve recently been shopping quite a lot on The RealReal which is a great place for luxury consignments. I recently bought a Roberto Cavalli skirt for US$25 (S$46.50). I am very OCD sot I keep all my measurements on my phone for convenience when I’m shopping online.”
What are you doing now?
“I’m studying fashion right now at the Fashion Design Institute. It’s not a specific school but a website where you can buy courses and videos. Once I get an online certificate, I’ll apply for internships.”
Are you Singaporean?
“I’m South African, but I’ve been living here for nine years.”
You have a very distinct style on your Instagram @donaenaenae. Do you dress like that all the time?
“Yeah, I’m dressed like that when I go out.”
How would you describe your style?
“People call it goth, punk, or edgy. I don’t really like to label it, though.”
Tell us more about your style and how it’s evolved.
“When I first joined a local secondary school a few years ago, I just wanted to fit in so I followed everyone else in terms of dressing and music tastes. I was the new kid – and the only white person there. It was only when I moved to a private school in Year 2 that I started exploring goth and punk music and alternative subculture and found the confidence to dress how I want and not care about what other people think. You only live once.”
Which kind of bands do you like to listen to?
“My favourite is Siouxsie and the Banshees – Siouxsie Sioux’s the OG goth singer. I listen to punk band Rage Against The Machine and Slipknot as well.”
You’re only 17. How did you discover all of this?
“I don’t really know, I think it was just from listening and experimenting with the type of music I like. I listen to a lot of different genres, but mostly punk and goth music.”
What do you like about these subcultures?
“I like how they dress and express themselves in whatever way they want without caring about whether people will like it or not. They don’t care what society says about them.”
Describe an outfit that’s typically you.
“It’ll definitely include a corset, maybe fishnets, a lace skirt or a long black skirt, my big platform boots, my spike choker and with my makeup done.”
Tell me a bit more about your makeup.
“It’s definitely inspired by Siouxsie Sioux. I only started getting into it just before the quarantine. Before that, I didn’t really know how to do makeup especially eyeliner. I built my confidence to express myself through makeup during the quarantine. But yeah, this is kind of a new look for me.”
How long do you take to dress up?
“Between an hour and an hour and fifteen minutes.”
You obviously don’t dress like anyone out there. Do you have any fun anecdotes to share about reactions that people have?
“People take pictures of me very often, it’s really weird but… whatever. I was in the MRT the other day and a woman tried to sneak a photo of me on her phone – it was really funny. Older people like to stare at me a lot and call me weird things, but I don’t really care.
How do you react?
“I just smile and wave. I’m used to it now but it’s still a bit shocking to me.”
How long have you been dressing this way?
Before that, what was your style like?
“It was very basic actually because I was afraid of dressing up and I used to skate as well. Then quarantine came and I decided to start experimenting with my style. Before quarantine, I had a short bob that was dyed green. But during quarantine, I just cut it up into a soft mullet and then dyed my hair black and green. When I first got out of quarantine, I felt like a completely different person.
I once saw a goth girl walk past me outside City Hall MRT and I was like ‘Oh my god, I want to look exactly like her’. From then on, it just kind of got more intense and my friends and family thought it was just a phase, because like I said before, I did go through a lot of phases.”
What kind of phases were there?
“There was an indie skater phase and also a very cutesy/girly phase. People said I dressed like an E-Girl before. Then I got more grungy.”
Would you say that style is very important to you?
“It’s how I like to express myself. If I go out with a more toned-down outfit I don’t really feel like myself.”
So what about for grocery runs?
“I’ll just wear my Dr. Martens boots, black pants and a T-shirt and maybe just accessorise a little bit.”
Maingard wears Ultramatte 30 Montaigne Box calfskin shoulder bag, Dior, with her own corset, gloves and jewellery bought online, Cotton On tank top, thrifted skirt, Demonia boots and assorted rings
Describe your style.
“My style is spontaneous and comfortable. Sometimes I’ll go casual and other times, formal. It’s very extreme. I’d say it’s fun too.”
Would you say you’ve established a style yet?
“I feel like fashion is a process where you actually can’t stop exploring. Of course, you’ll always have a sense of style or a particular look that you’ll gravitate towards. But I feel the constant exposure to different designers and to all the creative work out there and your peers, will help you develop your style a lot more as time goes by.”
How has your style changed since your time studying in London?
“I was wearing brands that were more dressy like REDValentino, Roberto Cavalli, and labels from Club21. But when I went to London, I became a little bit more boyish and started to mix menswear with womenswear.”
Do you shop from the men’s department?
“I used to buy from the men’s department all the time and still do occasionally – though not as much in Singapore. There are always so many nice designs from the men’s section that you can mix-and-match with women’s clothing.
When I was in London, I started buying more men’s clothes because I was really into the hype and streetwear culture. My first menswear piece was from Supreme; I think it was from one of the collaborations it did with Undercover. It was a sweater and that got me hooked onto streetwear.
What do you love about streetwear?
“I love the whole culture: it’s something fun, different and it was so accessible to me while I was studying in London. It was something my friends and I really enjoyed and we’d end up going out to shop and discovering different looks. It was just very exciting because these brands would have a new drop every week that everybody wanted and that made you want to get the item even more. There were all these hype accounts on social media like Hypebeast and Highsnobiety and they’ll come and photograph you after. I was featured a few times on those platforms – it was really quite fun and was something different. It was also my first social media exposure outside of Singapore.
I started becoming friends with all the people there and looking up more of these websites. Then I learned about designers like Carol Christian Poell who designed the Drip shoes and discovered that Grailed has plenty of pieces from old designer collections and eras that were so iconic. I really fell in love with all of that.”
Where would you shop in London?
“I would buy online from Grailed and I travelled a lot too for clothes. I used to schedule my lessons on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. From Thursday to Sunday, I would travel to Antwerp in Belgium or countries that had flagship boutiques for brands like Raf Simons or secondhand stores that carried archive clothing. It was really really amazing.”
What are your favourite brands?
“Back then I wore a lot of Rick Owens, Supreme, Raf Simons, and up till now, Louis Vuitton. I still love Louis Vuitton because it’s easily accessible, classy and very effortless to match. I also feel that Louis Vuitton always has outstanding service, which is really important to me when I shop.”
How much did you shop in London?
“Every week, I would go to Supreme, then walk over to Dover Street Market. I’d also visit Selfridges and my favourite shop Browns on South Molton Street. For homeware and cosmetics, I’d shop at Liberty.”
Ng wears Coach 1941 lurex turtleneck top, and corduroy and leather pants, Coach and Fringe Crisscross calfskin clutch and The Lean calfskin boots, Bottega Veneta
Describe an outfit that personifies you.
“Now, I like to keep it casual inside and then wear something very striking on the outside. So, you’ll usually catch me in any jacket.”
So, you love jackets?
“The first thing that catches my eyes in the shops are the new jackets that have arrived.”
How many jackets do you own?
“I have a lot because I’ve been collecting so many since my time studying in London.”
Would you consider a jacket an essential for you?
“Yes, I feel this love for my jackets stemmed from an insecurity I had. Ever since I was young I was a little bit chubby, so I always wore jackets to hide my arms. But now, I’ve gained confidence and I have also started working out more. So when I wear jackets, it doesn’t feel like I’m hiding anymore. It’s actually a way to make an outfit even better.”
What’s your favourite jacket?
“There’s two that I really like. I have a Louis Vuitton jacket that I bought from Bond Street. It was the first jacket I bought for myself and it’s actually really cool as it’s handpainted with amazing details. It’s from the brand’s anime-inspired collection for Spring/Summer 2016. The other favourite jacket was something I bought from a trip Antwerp. I went into one of Raf Simons’ shops and I found a cute shearling bomber jacket. I was super lucky to get it because they usually don’t have that in-store.”
What will you wear when you become a lawyer?
“I think I’ll be wearing more tailored outfits. You may think that the dress code in law firms is strict but as long as your outfit is not too crazy, they’re quite acceptable. You don’t have to dress in black and white unless you’re going to court. So, I guess I’m going to take out all my old Thom Browne pieces and my striped cardigans. I don’t think my parents will want me to dress so loudly in the office.”
When did you really start enjoying fashion and using it as a mood enhancer?
“I think it has always been ingrained in me because of my mum (the socialite Nina Ng). She’s very into clothes and is a fashionista. So I inherited that fashion gene from her. I used to raid her closet all the time and that’s why I was initially a little more girly in my dressing. We’ve really influenced each other. I continue to wear her dresses when I want to feel girly.”
Would you say that she’s one of your biggest fashion influences?
“Yes, especially when I came back from London and while I was growing up. But when I was in London, I was more inspired by rappers like A$AP Rocky and their sense of fashion.”
If there was no Instagram and no social media, do you think you’d dressed differently?
“I think so. Honestly, there won’t be any hype. You won’t be so influenced to shop. The whole concept of hype is built around wanting to wear what the It person is wearing. Everybody looks up to A$AP, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, and tries to follow the way they dressed. When you see them posting an outfit, you’ll want to purchase the same thing and post a picture of it on the same day or in the same week too.
That is how fast-paced the London fashion scene is – it’s very different from the one we have in Singapore. In London, there’s a new drop every week. If you want to keep up, you’ve got to be one of the first people to get that item. If you post it three or four days later, you’re already behind and brands will have moved on to the next collection.”
Have you found a similar experience here?
“Maybe the closest thing we’ve got here is Dover Street Market.”
What would you say about the relationship between fashion and identity?
“I like how we tend to associate certain clothes with particular people. For example, when I see big ballgowns, I think of my mum. And when I see cool, tailored pieces, which I’ve come to love wearing, I think of my grandmother who’s really into suits. If you ask me, she’s the biggest fashionista in the family.”
Photography Veronica Tay Styling Chia Wei Choong Coordination Keng Yang Shuen
A version of this article first appeared in the December 2020 Be Yourself Edition of FEMALE