Sabrina Goh’s latest collection of puzzle-themed womenswear is a combination of wear and play.
By Clinton Dixon
Fashion has, for an age, run as visual commentary to the historical happenings of popular culture. Be it the counter culture revolution of the 1960s with its tie-dye tees and put-a-flower-in-your-hair sentimentality, or the yuppie excesses of the 1980s replete with pirate shirts, signboard tee shirts and money-will-buy-me-happiness attitudes, you can’t ignore history’s influence on fashion and fashion’s influence on history. My own fashion history, on the other hand, has been anything but significant. In my home country of New Zealand, fashion is more dictated by the environment elements of sun, wind, rain and snow than by the catwalks collections of Paris, Milan, London and New York.
When I arrived in Singapore in late 2011, I was overwhelmed by the fashion sense of the locals. Living in a season-less country opened my eyes to the possibility of wearing something that was in fashion and better yet, made me fashionable. My fashion journey was to take an interesting turn of events when I was invited to my first fashion show last week.
Sabrina Goh is the young, recognized local fashion designer behind the design labels Elohim and Light. Sabrina also happens to be a committed member of my cell group N449, and as an exhibitor, she invited her “beloved cell group” (her words) to Blueprint, Asia’s Fashion Gateway Tradeshow held at Suntec Singapore on May 17. With curiosity as my guide, I took the plunge and made my way to the International Convention and Exhibition centre at Suntec Singapore to see what all it was all about.
Blueprint’s focus is on exposing emerging local and international fashion labels to a wider trade buyer audience. This year, the 2013 pre-spring collections of menswear, womenswear and accessories including jewellery, shoes and bags were featured. The show functioned on two levels: trade exhibitors could display their fashions lines via conventional catwalk shows as well as booth displays, which gave trade buyers immediate access to designers and sales staff.
My game plan for the event was plain and simple. I was just going to repeatedly circle the fashion floor and soak up the atmosphere, people and products and see if I could make any sense of it all. That game plan lasted all of five minutes as I went on to discovered the joys of free Magnum ice-cream bars, soft drinks and the renewing of my love for house music, the atmospheric beats of which the models catwalked to.
Joy suddenly turned to disbelief when I was temporarily blinded by an exhibitor’s range of men’s briefs so brief in nature that … I’ll let you fill in the blanks. Once my eyesight recovered, I quickly sought refuge at the Elohim stand where I was greeted by the ever-smiling Sabrina and her husband-to-be Jason.
Sabrina explained to me in detail the concept and inspiration behind her 2013 pre-spring womenswear collections under Elohim and Light. The collection centered on the idea of puzzles and the psychology of gameplay. Clothing pieces were cut in various triangular and square patterns much like puzzle pieces and customers were encouraged to complete the puzzle and thereby creating their own unique look. To create multiple fabric cut-outs, digital cutting was used to prevent fabric fraying and this allowed the seamless matching of puzzle piece to puzzle piece. Sabrina went on to explain that the whole process took two to three weeks from conception to catwalk. In between, she traveled to Hong Kong to seek inspiration and new fabrics.
The more Sabrina talked about the time, effort and accompanying stress it took to create her collection the more I realized that this industry isn’t so superficial after all. Once I pushed past the lights and the cameras and the makeup I found a hidden depth to the fashion world I never knew existed. I also found a body of people much like their own body of work, who were not only passionate and creative but also very smart. Maybe all that glitters is gold after all?