Jermine Chua is a London-based second-year Fashion Communication and Promotion student at Central Saint Martins who’s already making a name for herself with her ethereal visuals.
Already in her portfolio: films for the Katie Grand-helmed The Perfect Magazine and artful campaigns for both big names and rising designers alike. Ahead, the 22-year-old talks to us more on how she came to be in based in London, her work philosophy and what she hopes to see in the industry:
Image-maker and art director Jermine Chua
How did you end up studying in London?
“I never actually had any concrete plans to further my studies after my diploma. It was at my Lasalle graduation show in 2018 that the Programme Director for Fashion at Central Saint Martins, Hywel, encouraged me to apply for Central Saint Martins (CSM).
However, applications were already closed by then, so I spent a year working in Singapore while considering to apply for the following year and I did. I spent three years in Lasalle for my diploma (which was a great time of my life) and I would just need another two years (here) to complete a degree. But I figured if I really wanted to further my studies, I prefer a route that was going to be challenging on a whole different scale.”
Having attended fashion schools both here and in London, how different or similar are their respective approaches to fashion?
“I personally feel that the approach to education is very similar; Lasalle being an arts school, they give you the free space to explore yourself and a lot of independent study.
The environment you immerse yourself in — surrounded by architects, dancers, fine artists et cetera, it really defines the space you grow in as a creative. CSM is also known for that – people with the most beautiful and individual minds all holed up in a space; just imagine the ideas that would birth from that.
The difference for me would be the people; my schoolmates come from many parts of the world, (and as a result) they bring very different perspectives to the way we think, act, execute and ideate, and we have so much to learn from each other.”
A recent spread for independent publication Phreak
How has living in London shaped or influenced your career in the fashion industry as well as your view of fashion and the creative arts?
“I think just being in London itself puts me in a different position as compared to if I were back home, as most big fashion companies are based here. I get opportunities to work with different people I would never get to back home.
It is also about broadening one’s horizons, being in a completely different environment leads to unexpected opportunities. London as a city as well is quite different from the other fashion capitals – it is more open to showcasing and working with young talent.”
Who or what has played a role in informing or influencing your body of work?
“Masao Yamamoto, Langjingshan, Alva Noto, Ryoji Ikeda and so many more.”
What’s your approach to image making?
“It has always been translating feelings into a visual, not just for me – I think that’s most image-makers. I kind of see it as an orchestra where one curates many elements together to create a piece, be it many parts of oneself or with different parts with other parties.”
A campaign for the emerging British fashion designer Isabella Smith
What’s your take on Singapore’s fashion identity today?
“I’m not sure if we do have a fashion identity yet – or at least a clear one. I think it’s hard to navigate as we are a very young country and don’t have a long history in fashion in particular. We’re a jumble of many things due to our heritage.
Our fashion isn’t limited to the batik-printed uniform of the Singapore Girl or what’s at Design Orchard. We’re more than that and that makes it hard to define… I think for now, we’re more of a shopping city than a fashion one.
What’s a defining memory of/related to Singapore fashion for you?
“When Adrian Joffe took Youths in Balaclava to an international stage… I think it was 2018? I remember I was in my final year in Lasalle then. It was very surprising but in a good way – I feel very proud that a young brand by local Singaporeans are being recognised at an international level. After I moved to London in 2019, I have also seen the label’s clothes across several boutiques in the UK.”
What advice would you have for other young creatives?
“I think going straight to the source of where the big companies are located is a rather straightforward method. But I would say being in Singapore is also a really good opportunity. Hearing from many local creatives, I would say now is really a good time to be home.
I think the pandemic has made a lot of us reflect within, and look at what is around us; local models, photographers, musicians, artists and designers. We have witnessed a wider platform for our creative scene and I just hope it keeps on expanding in many directions.”
A collaboration between Chelsea Football Club and the telecom giant Three UK – all lensed through Chua’s signature dreamy eye
What are some projects you’ve worked on that had special significance for you?
“I would say Swan Song: Solo Migration is a very special and one of my most vulnerable pieces yet. It is a 30 sec piece that I created at home (Singapore) in lockdown, filmed with my iPhone.
I made it with a heavy heart, and it carries even more meaning for me to film it in my home that was once my safe space. Last Ride: Lost Shadows of Spring is a more recent film that I created in 3D. It was a personal project about my childhood. Funny how they are all non-fashion related.”
A scene from Last Ride: Lost Shadows of Spring, a 3D film that Chua counts as one of her most personal works as it’s an ode to her childhood dreams.
A version of this article first appeared in the August 2021 The Great SG Fashion Book edition of FEMALE