Singapore’s Fashion People

Putting together fashion interviews is indeed an eye-opening experience. You’ve heard it all before, there is no glamour in fashion, just catfights, endless bitching and tears.

MYTH or FACTS? Going in with expectations of glamour & excitements, we were certainly not disappointed. Designers: They seem to be the nicest people in the fashion arena. Surprised? We certainly were at least in our experiences with them.Support local Designers not because they’re local but because they’re good. Check out our local fashionistas, edgy fashion designers, and accessories makers. Ashburn Eng chats up four creative trendsetters in Singapore.

Luke Elijah Lim

“My personal style is an eclectic mix of sleek tailored street wear with an avant-garde edge. I accessorize a fair bit and I love dressing in prints, textures and colours. I have great reverence for visionaries such as director Tim Burton, photographer David Lachapelle, as well as fashion designers Hedi Slimane and Alexander McQueen. Style icons with the likes of David Beckham, Tom Ford and Gwen Stefani also inspire me.”

Luke Elijah Lim designs

pon graduation from the Raffles Design Institute in Fashion Studies, Luke Elijah Lim served his two years full-time national service as a costume designer at the Singapore Armed Force’s Music and Drama Company’s. He also participated in numerous local and international design competitions.

On his rack, he won the 2004 Moët & Chandon Fresh Fashion Stylist of the Year, China Cup International Women’s Wear Design Contest 2003 – Bronze Award and “Best Fashion Fabric” Award for the most innovative development and use of textiles. Association of Total Fashion International Fresh Designers Competition in Asia 2002 – Special Honour. Singapore Fashion Designers Contest 2002 – 3rd Prize Winner.

What is being a designer all about? Is it only about dressing people, or is there more to it?

A designer should be multi-faceted and multi-disciplined. He should be skilled and knowledgeable in areas such as pattern making, sewing, costume history, textiles, marketing, fine art, etc. Being technically savvy ensures that the designer is able to design practical workable clothing that are commercially viable. Designers should also keep up-to-date with the latest international trends and world news. As politics, technology, social events or economical changes can affect fashion, designers must always been keenly aware of everything that is going on around the world.

What are the things you like or dislike about your job?

I love the creative aspects of my work. It is the driving force that spurs me to improve myself. When working with creative fashion people, you are bound to encounter big egos, insecurities, gossiping and bitching. I just take it in my stride. I am already used to it all, more or less. The fashion industry can sometimes be mentally and physically draining. I sometimes get “fashion fatigue”.

What do you think of Singaporean’s fashion instinct?

Singapore still has some way to go before it can achieve its hopes of ever becoming an international style hub or fashion capital. Look around you, Singaporeans simply do not make enough of an effort to dress well. Fashion is simply not a priority for most Singaporeans.

Jimi Heng

“My style borders on wearable uniqueness, I believe that humans thrive on diversity, ‘imperfect perfection’, asymmetry and the ambiguous ‘shock element’. The imperfect perfection refers to the fact that I am rather drawn to raw edges and unusual finishing. Asymmetry is rather self explanatory and the shock element refers to an unusual combinations of fabrications or unique theme that inspires the collection.”

Jimi Heng designs

raduated from Lasalle College of the arts, having done the degree programme conferred by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Being top of the class, he was then awarded the best student award in the degree programme. He also served a short apprenticeship at the Arcadia Group in London.

The Label: Jimi Heng started Annoyingly Enormous with a few friends customising t-shirts and making unique one of a kind garments. We had no intention of making money as the production output was rather low and the returns were not high. It was done purely out of fun and passion. However interest mounted and with the power of the media people started contacting us to have things done. From there they launched their first full-fledged collection in December 2001.

Who are the greatest inspirations in your designs and concept philosophy?

When I was young, I am very much influenced by the works of Rei Kawakubo of Comme Des Garçon. I still admire her work and her mentality. The way she makes everything unique, even the way she retails her products, is totally admirable.

Anyone and everyone including myself can inspire me. Experiences and events also inspire me. It is how deeply a situation or person causes an impression on me that makes me ponder and from there, becomes inspirational. I do not have an iconic personality that causes my inspiration, but I am more inspired by unusual mundane events and people.

What is being a designer all about – Is it to just design clothes for people, or is there something more about being a designer?

The term ‘designer’ is so over hyped. I have never thought of myself as a fashion designer. Maybe a more appropriate term for myself is being called a commercial apparel artist. Such an ironic play of words yes, but I do believe that sums up what I do best. A good designer understands the problems posed to you, and solving it with impeccable solutions with your own style. To just create clothes is simple, anyone can do that, to do it as the above described, is not as easy.

Baylene Li

“Inspiration ranges from patterns on marble floor, to landscape plans from botanic gardens. Designs consistently combine traditional classic tailoring with a twist to make it edgier and self-expressive, whilst retaining the balance of masculine and feminine, military yet soft elements.”

Baylene Li designs

aylene started her fashion career at one the leading New Zealand fashion houses. She was also crowned as the CLEO BEST READY-TO-WEAR DESIGNER 2004 and Winner of the Singapore Mercedes-Benz Asia Fashion Award 2005. Baylene debuted her own solo collections and a boutique with her name.

Just 2 years on, this homegrown label can also be found in smart boutiques in Malaysia, Sydney, Tokyo & Taiwan. Baylene Fashion gallery is located at Stamford House #01-04. Check out

What is being a designer all about – Is it to just design clothes for people, or is there something more about being a designer?

It’s about dressing up people and making them the centre of attention. To pull others in like gravity.

What are your all-time classics or most wearable styles?

Tailored BAYLENE jacket, with a hooded BAYLENE jumper underneath and my grey Tsubi jeans.

In your opinion, what is the season’s hottest look?

Jackets worn inside out.

What do you think of Singapore’s fashion instinct?

WHITE AND RED, that’s the colour of Singapore. A fashion instinct grows from the symbol of a national such as it’s flag, it’s national flower.

Amelyn Ong

“I have very spontaneous style to my work. The designs are large in pieces but at the same time soft and fluid, but without hindering myself from designing chunky and dramatic detailing. All the designs are started from scratch, It’s interesting to see where the thoughts can lead you to. It’s very therapeutic process to witness the final product, turns out to be satisfying. Even a pebbled floor or old stacks of newspapers can trigger off a rush of ideas on the texture, feel and concept.”

Amelyn Ong designs

rmed with a degree in fashion design at LaSalle SIA College of Arts. She won the Dylon Textile Award and, got into Smirnoff Graduate Showcase 2002. Now she is making a big wave in the accessories business.

With great interests in accessories at the age of seven, she started making them since. April last year, Amelyn finally fulfilled her childhood dream and started her own label, called simply, Ameline. Her gorgeous designs can be found at the Scotts Shopping Centre, unit #03-16.

Amelyn OngWhat are accessories and what is its role in fashion?

Accessories are like clothes. What earrings, bags, shoes, rings you wear, speaks a lot about you. Accessories complete and spice up the look. If there are no accessories, it’s like a sentence without a full stop.

What is being a designer all about – Is it to just design for people, or is there something more about being a designer?

The term designer is just a term used to describe what we do. As designers, we need to have an eye for details, and that could sometimes mean being very meticulous, being a perfectionist. It is also very important that designers are aware of the surroundings, as the environment changes design.

What are some of the important characteristics that a person need to have in order to become a good designer?

Perseverance, patience, discipline, hardworking, creative and being humble. Many people in this industry are simply too egoist, and think too highly of themselves. Because of their ego, many have placed a halt to their growth as a designer.