It’s that time of the year again—Instagram feeds are overflowing, our favourite musicians are given their accolades and, perhaps most exciting of all, we’re treated to an array of show-stopping looks.
And while the annual MTV Video Music Awards’ fashion throne has long been ruled by the likes of Lil’ Kim’s and Rose McGowan’s unforgettable outfits, a generation of daring stars are fast taking over.
Held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, the 38th edition of the VMAs was hosted by rapper Doja Cat and saw performances by Lil Nas X, Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish. It also gifted us with major fashion moments from the likes of Normani and Chloe Bailey.
Amongst the head-turning looks was British pop star Charli XCX’s see-through, upcycled lace dress custom-made by Singaporean-born Taiwanese designer and textile artist, Shawna Wu.The singer paired the mini ensemble with Karma El Khalil earrings, black pumps, sultry smokey eyes and her signature teased hair.
Seen on the likes of musician Justine Skye, virtual influencer Lil Miquela and American designer Yeha Leung, her creations are a trend-defying smattering of cleverly manipulated deadstock and upcycled materials such as lace, beads and tulle.
This isn’t Charli XCX’s first rodeo with Wu’s creations, either. The ‘Good Ones’ singer was also recently spotted in one of her signature hand-knot beaded leather and silk corsets. “Snatched in full Shawna Wu,” read Wu’s caption. Here, the buzzy designer speaks to Vogue Singapore about the inspiration behind the piece and what she has her sights set on next.
How did the opportunity to dress Charli XCX come about?
Her stylist Chris Horan contacted me.
Tell us about the dress in particular.
This dress is part of my 1/1 Wilt textile series. The concept behind my Wilt series is salvaging a decomposing material landscape, which is a reality of wastefulness in fashion. Each lace panel is meticulously saved and hand-cut from a deadstock lace panel and hand-sewn onto tulle.
I’ve run out of all of this lace making commissions, and there’s only a top and a skirt left in my own personal collection. Each panel is cut differently and uniquely remixed with handfelt merino wool, Japanese cotton yarn and later finished with ribbon. The entire piece is hand-sewn with tiny stitches. Hoping to preserve a certain type of make takes so much time but brings so much pleasure. Time is the most erotic thing to me. Nothing is as sexy as time.
What were some of the specific adjustments you had to make?
For a pop icon like Charli XCX, I wanted to make her something special, hence I thought of handmade textiles as one of a kind as her. I knew I could do a different type of “luxe sexy”. My freeform felting is made in the same spirit as “山水畫”, kind of like an ethereal flowing. It reminds me of music.
What’s next for you? What do you have your sights on next?
I want to work with Rihanna, period! Call me RiRi!