Since the rise of MTV and YouTube, fashion has long been a defining ingredient of music videos. Just think back to the most iconic music video looks of all time—from Beyoncé’s yellow ruffled Roberto Cavalli dress from ‘Lemonade’, to the boundary-pushing costumes of Lady Gaga, to the devastatingly coordinated ensembles of any Blackpink music video.
Enter Singapore’s very own Aisyah Aziz’s ‘Loving Room’—a crooning track that doubles as a love letter to herself, growth and self-acceptance. Accompanying the single is a hypnotic music video of Aziz in a series of unforgettable looks, which are as lingering as Aziz’s lyrics, especially when she inquires, “Take me as I’m letting you find a loving room—could you fit me in too?”
From a full-batik look by local label Ratianah Tahir against a backdrop of daisies to a diaphanous red poncho from Simone Rocha’s collaboration with Moncler Genius, there isn’t a frame in the music video that couldn’t pass off as a fashion editorial. Behind the kaleidoscopic tableau that was ‘Loving Room’ was a small but talented team—local photographer, Faiyaz, art directed and shot the video, while womenswear designer Putri Adif styled and custom-made Aziz’s looks.
Sharing their creative process, influences and experiences from the set of ‘Loving Room’, Vogue Singapore speaks to Adif and Faiyaz about the inimitable visual and sartorial language of the music video.
Tell us about the general direction you both were going for in ‘Loving Room.
Faiyaz: The aesthetic direction of the music video sits at a crossroads of both mine and Aisyah’s respective visual DNAs. My aesthetic is dreamy and nostalgic. Aisyah, on the other hand, brings a sense of playfulness and boldness to everything she does.
Putri: The styling direction was based on the concept behind ‘Loving Room’ and what it meant to Aisyah. A modern Malay woman, coming out of her cocoon, unapologetically turning into the woman that she is and wants to be. With that, it was very important for us to accentuate this Malay aspect in the styling.
Putri, what was it like translating this additional element of music through your styling?
Putri: I think that the relationship between fashion and music is so closely linked, and sound and visuals now coexist in this industry. Music is a form of expression and through styling, it allows the artist to expand that expression beyond sound. Artists now not only have a distinct sound, but are also attached to a certain visual style that brings their overall branding together. As superficial as it may sound, this helps communicate their message and aesthetic, and is great for targeting certain audiences. Personally, I’ve always had a strong passion for music, so it wasn’t hard for me to integrate that element into my styling.
Did you have a favourite look?
Putri: I love them all, but if I had to choose, probably the batik look. We referenced a vintage painting we found of a Malay woman wearing a loose head wrap and batik fabric around the chest, called the ‘berkemban’ in Malay Bahasa—which was how Malay women would wear batik to take a bath in the river back in the day. We took that reference and it became one of the looks!
Faiyaz, can you tell us about your process working with Putri? Generally, what role do fashion and clothes play in your work?
It was a no-brainer bringing Putri onboard. She’s an extremely talented young designer and I knew she was the perfect fit when Aisyah shared her vision for styling. She wanted looks that were modern and edgy, but at the same time wanted to include elements of Malay culture, like Batik and headwraps. Putri immediately understood what we wanted and the three of us had an incredible rapport throughout the process.
“We wanted to convey Aisyah’s story of ‘Loving Room’ and what it meant to her through each look, which was all about self-love, duality, self-acceptance and freedom.”
Fashion and clothes are a big part of my work. I got into fashion photography very early on—which really taught me the importance of styling and how clothes can tell a story. It’s one of those things that can make or break a photograph. In true Virgo fashion, I’m a perfectionist and can get quite fixated over small details. Whenever possible, I prefer to handle the entirety of the process myself—from the styling, casting and art direction to the hair, makeup and production. All these elements have to be well-orchestrated to really amplify the narrative.
Putri, can you tell us more about the custom piece you designed for Aisyah?
Putri: Aisyah told me she wanted something that felt like her own skin, a bodysuit. So it started from there, I sent the team a few sketches and it all just came together. I’m very new to knitwear and it is not really the easiest to work with but I enjoyed the entire process. I love making my corsets and I wanted to put an element of it into the custom look, so I added the “V” shape bodice seam lines to create leading lines at the right places on her body. Aisyah has an amazing body and I wanted the bodysuit to accentuate it. We went with no accessories as it was all about her, her voice and her body.
Growing up, I noticed that Western culture was commonly idolised, totally dismissing the beauty of my own culture.
And what about the Moncler pieces we see Aisyah wearing?
Putri: Aisyah wore 8 Moncler Richard Quinn leggings with matching pumps, and a red lace poncho, bralet and shorts from 4 Moncler Simone Rocha. Moncler collaborations are very exciting—especially with the idea of juxtaposing the aesthetics of two brands to create amazing pieces. I really love that sentiment and I felt like Aisyah suited Moncler, and not everyone can rock it like she does.
I noticed that one of the looks features your batik corset. How do you approach tradition, craft and modernity in your designs and/or styling?
Putri: I have so much love for my culture and I think as a young adult, I just started to really love where I came from. Growing up, I noticed that Western culture was commonly idolised, totally dismissing the beauty of my own culture. That is why I believe in incorporating culture with my work. I make corset stays that are derived from the 16th and 17th century of the Victorian era but construct them with batik fabric.
Faiyaz, this isn’t your first music video—you also art directed Tabitha Nauser’s ‘Don’t Let Me Drown’. Can you tell us a little more about your creative process translating music into visuals and video imagery?
Faiyaz: I remember listening to Hilary Duff’s Metamorphosis—which was the very first album I bought—and conjuring up music videos for each song in my head. I’ve been a visual learner ever since I was a kid. If I can’t visualise something, I have a hard time grasping the concept. I guess you could say my creative process is almost a physical representation of daydreams I have while listening to a track. It can also be a hindrance. For example, I’ve actually had to turn down projects because I wasn’t able to translate the music in my head or it just didn’t resonate with me.
The looks in ‘Loving Room’ were a great mix of not only your own designs, but also Ratianah Tahir, Moncler and henna art by Syraskins. Was it a conscious decision to feature other local brands and/or creatives in your styling?
Putri: Honestly, it was just a coincidence and I was looking for pieces that went with the vision that Aisyah had for her looks. Prior to the shoot, she had sent me references for the mood of the music video. Both Ratianah Tahir and Syraskins worked with Aisyah a couple of times and it was just wise for us to work with them again due to the familiarity. Ratianah Tahir has amazing traditional pieces and jewellery that we were looking for. As for the henna art by Syraskins, we had the idea for Aisyah to do a line across her arms and shoulders with a hollow and solid circle on the palms of her hands. I felt like it would be a great statement accessory without it feeling overwhelming with the hair, makeup and the clothing.
Finally, tell us what it was like working with Aisyah on the concept and execution of this music video—what about ‘Loving Room’ were you both hoping to convey or emphasise through the video?
Putri: It felt so natural and smooth with Aisyah. I vibe with her so well and we have a lot of similar interests. We both have a huge appreciation for our culture and heritage so it was really nice to meet someone that naturally had a similar vision for the looks. We wanted to convey Aisyah’s story of ‘Loving Room’ and what it meant to her through each look, which was all about self-love, duality, self-acceptance and freedom.
Faiyaz: It’s always such a joy working with Aisyah. There’s a lot of trust between us and she’s comfortable with giving me creative control. For ‘Loving Room’ in particular, Aisyah wanted to explore introspective themes of duality, healing, growth and self-acceptance. When she wrote the song, it was an outlet of self-love and all its layers. That was the jump-off point for me. In the video, you see our physical manifestation of this idea through the different looks. I think the beauty of what I do is that it’s so open to interpretation, which is why I’m all about symbolism through subtle details. It’s for people to look at and find their own meaning.
Director, director of photography and art direction: Faiyaz
Stylist: Putri Adif
Hair and makeup: Manisa Tan
Body art: Syraskins
Stylist assistant: Erwinshah Hassan
Hair and makeup assistant: Jenny Tan