The Fall/Winter 2014/2015 collection by the Singapore label entitled Madness and Civilisation was aptly named as designer Priscilla Shunmugam featured pieces that transcended the usual order of things, blurring the lines between tradition and progressiveness, classic and contemporary, doing so with her bold new interpretations of the traditional cheongsam whether in how it's worn or what its form is.
Reinventing the Cheongsam with Priscilla Shunmugam: Read Story
For what is Singapore's most outstanding homegrown fashion label of recent times, its fashion show attended by several ladies dressed in the ready-to-wear and bespoke designs from the brand was a feather on the cap following the last few months of outstanding milestones and achievements.
Ong Shunmugam's Fall/Winter 2013/2014 collection — its third contemporary womenswear collection — entitled Whenever I Fall at Your Feet inspired by the heritage of Singapore's architecture and unveiled at the 2013 Audi Fashion Festival, exhibited at the National Museum of Singapore last year as well as at the Chinese Museum of Women & Children in Beijing last month.
ONG SHUNMUGAM Inspired by Singapore's Architectural Heritage: Read Story
The collection has just been nominated for the prestigious President's Design Award Singapore this year. All this follows the label winning the Grand Award at the Design For Asia Awards 2013 organised by the Hong Kong Design Centre - an honour it now shares with previous winner Shangxia by Hermès.
Fall/Winter 2014/2015: "... From the Real to the Chimerical"
The show opened with these words flashed during the introduction, setting the stage as a pair of models in two-piece cropped-top modern and sexy update of the mandarin gown came down the runway. The revealing midriff was tastefully alluring, playful yet not overtly so.
Chimerical \kī-ˈmer-i-kəl adjective existing only as the product of unchecked imagination: fantastically visionary or improbable
As Ong Shunmugam loyalists have come to expect, this was everything they loved about her designs yet nothing they could have guessed for this first solo showcase of a full seasonal collection.
Batik patterns, mix-and-matched in sartorial sophistication, have become a signature look for Ong Shunmugam and there were such pieces aplenty, from casual wear to more formal pieces.
Autumnal colours of sky blue, yellow, orange and green were in play, painting a colourful palette pleasing to the eye, in cases accentuated by blue ceramic patterns, complemented by batik patterns and printed textiles sourced from around the South East Asia region — the designer revealed she makes a concerted effort to directly procure from artisans in support of the fabrication industry.
The silhouettes then took more dramatic forms, with differences in cut and shape to match the wearer’s desire and accentuate her figure for the occasion. There were tops with varying sleeve cuts, tailored pants to match, and even new patterned dresses; perhaps offering a clue on future designs that might not use the cheongsam as the starting point.
If there was madness in how convention was challenged, then perhaps civilisation (and fashion) is all the better for it.