On 15 May 2023, Lasalle College of the Arts’ class of 2023 unveiled 14 diverse collections in a joyous fashion show. It marked the second year of live shows since the pandemic forced the programme online from 2020-2021. Themed ‘Transitions,’ the show explored the ways in which our world is continuing to change. Determined to probe existing frontiers, the show grappled with questions like: What would a more equal fashion ecosystem look like? How can the designers of tomorrow be guided by greater empathy, inclusivity and diversity? And on a more intimate note, how can we care for each other in a transformed world?
The graduates and designers presented their collections in a runway show on Lasalle’s iconic sky bridge to a thumping soundtrack and an audience of industry professionals, media, friends and family. The 14 collections were handpicked for showcase out of a class of 26 by a panel of fashion professionals. On the inspiration behind the theme, Circe Henestrosa, Head of the School of Fashion, said, “The theme of ‘transition’ spoke to us as we find ourselves today in the midst of multiple transitions—between physical and digital, between old norms and future evolutions. Our students have explored bold and important themes in their collections, from how cultural heritage can be celebrated in contemporary times, to how fashion can be more inclusive and sustainable.”
She added: “They have also not been afraid to use innovative methods and new technologies in their creations. Our students are really pushing the frontiers and I am so proud of all of them.” The debuted collections were suitably fresh. One collection featured saccharine pinks and garments fitted with enlarged bows that seemed to swallow the wearer, a fashionably Marxist critique of hyperconsumerism—a culture bent on consuming inevitably finds itself consumed. Others focused on reviving traditional crafts and size inclusivity as alternative visions for the future of fashion.
Below, Vogue Singapore rounds up the best of Lasalle’s graduation collections.
Exploring heritage and culture
Khairina Sari Ramlan, BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles: Underneath the Veil
The inspiration behind the collection: A riposte to the ways in which modest, Muslim dress has been misunderstood as oppressive, constricting and joyless, the collection seeks to redefine the hijab’s place in fashion. Conservative offerings are infused with high, Elizabethan drama as if to say: underneath the veil is a woman and she is free.
What to expect: A six-look collection reinterprets different types of Islamic veils—the burqa, niqab and hijab. Basic veiling silhouettes are manipulated and made glamorous; one is fashioned into a ruff; another, a bridal veil. The use of unconventional fabrics that are not often seen in Islamic dressing pushes the envelope, asserting that Islamic dressing can be daring and true to its wearer.
Sakshi Singh, BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles: Cosmopolitan01
The inspiration behind the collection: Who is the cosmopolitan woman? How does she effortlessly blend the traditional beauty of cultural clothing and modern fashion silhouettes in her everyday attire?—these are the central questions that Cosmpolitan01 explores, following designer Sakshi Singh’s observation that she often opted to wear Western clothes rather than traditional attire due to the greater ease of putting it on.
What to expect: In Singh’s six-look collection, the sari is refashioned to suit modern silhouettes for the contemporary cosmopolitan woman. The revamped urban clothing is functional and easier to wear while maintaining its cultural roots—one memorable look is a white two-piece ensemble. The knee-length top features grand, puffy sleeves; attention is drawn towards the midriff cutouts, with a beaded adornment fashioned in the shape of a double helix under the bust. The plain white pants are variegated with bright orange fabric—a vibrant colour commonly used in saris.
Alison Oh Jing Rou, BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles: Have you eaten yet?
The inspiration behind the collection: The deterioration of our communication skills today is an indubitable reality, thanks to social media taking away from the number of meaningful interactions we have with one another each day. Observing this, Alison Oh Jing Rou took it upon herself to create a collection that fondly evokes the chatter and joy of reunion dinners and high tea with family; the title is a nod to the phrase often used by Chinese families to express care and concern.
What to expect: Drawing inspiration from the food integral to Chinese culture, Oh’s collection is a vision in red, blue, and white. Oh gives the dumping an avant-garde makeover in two looks, the large pleated sleeves creating a silhouette closely resembling the savoury dish. The collection includes but is not limited to: pleated pants, mesh tops, maxi skirts, and Chinese knots as a prominent accessory.
Sustainability and the fashion industry
Michelle Tan, BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles: The Colour Brawl
The inspiration behind the collection: A rejection of throwaway culture and the breakneck speed of fast fashion, the collection seeks to humanise the production process, emphasising craft with the use of time-intensive knitting techniques and hand-drawn prints.
What to expect: Aesthetically, the colours are intriguing, while the shapes are unusual and organic, proving that sustainability does not have to be boring and can toe the line of the avant-garde. Material-wise, expect knits handcrafted with a manual knitting machine in full-fashioned construction, where each pattern piece is calculated and knitted out directly, minimising the wastage of fabric from cutting and sewing. The collection is made from 100% Shetland and British wool, giving the garments a luxurious weight that would not have been achieved with synthetic fibres.
Lim Su Hui, BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles: Homeland
The inspiration behind the collection: In an age of fast fashion and ever-shortening trend cycles, Lim Su Hui takes a step back and looks to our history to create something both fresh and sustainable. Her collection is an appreciation of fashion’s intrinsic ties to cultural and environmental heritage.
What to expect: Homeland is a homage to our roots, comprising six ethereal looks in a dreamy, earthy colour palette. Light blue and sand-coloured fabric cascades down the loose silhouettes, sweeping the floor like gentle waves. Lim Su Hui embraces zero-waste pattern-making practices and utilises every inch of fabric to create each component of her multi-layered looks—a poetic and powerful stand against the dread of mass consumption.
Indira Varma, BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles: Ratnagarbha: The Repository
The inspiration behind the collection: Ratnagarbha: The Repository is an ode to royal fashion and the art that adorns the streets of Jaipur, India. Indira Varma celebrates all the irreplaceable elements that go into bringing fashion products to life, and puts two main themes at the forefront of this collection: using natural materials and supporting cultural sustainability and craftsmanship.
What to expect: The collection’s looks are truly regal—royal purple and gold feature heavily; each of the floor-length looks is decorated with hand block prints in elegant designs. There are also intricate accessories such as hair pieces, earrings, and ‘nath’ (nose ring).
New technology and the future of fashion
Jennie Amio, BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles: Unbearable Bodies
The inspiration behind the collection: Unbearable Bodies tackles the contentious issue of size inclusivity in fashion head-on. Limited by size availability, how do plus-size individuals express themselves through fashion? Jennie Amio considers the importance of this dilemma and presents clothes that defy form-fitting norms.
What to expect: Unbearable Bodies is a candy-coloured dream. The playful pastel looks are decorated with delicate bows and fluffy footwear, while the silhouettes are purposefully loose and comfortable—a breath of fresh air in an industry obsessed with size zero, ‘snatched’ waists, and shapewear.
Farah Sudiro, BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles: Introvertparty
The inspiration behind the collection: Fascinated by the rich inner life of the Introvert, Sudiro considers how a preference for one’s own company may be caricatured, played with and sometimes, broken out of. The clothes are informed by the constant negotiation of the Introvert, to speak up or retreat into the self? These are clothes that bring comfort to the wearer and discomfort to the viewer, yet in their eye-catching boldness, they betray an introvert’s stubborn need to still be seen by others.
What to expect: A six-look gender-neutral collection boasts versatile bases that can be easily mixed and matched. There’s a good mix of materials—fur, knit and pleather all feature. Silhouettes are simultaneously bold and cocooning, one memorable look sees a long purple scarf twined around the body of a plain mustard dress, paired with outsized furry leg warmers that tumble down to cover the toes.
Varsha Venkatesan, BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles: 108
The inspiration behind the collection: The collection comes from a place of introspection: the artist considered the lingering sense of exclusion she felt in spite of living in an inclusive society, and from there she turned to yoga and meditation for relief. Varsha Venkatesan was hence inspired to take a closer look at these practices and their intrinsic ties to spirituality and Hindu mythology.
What to expect: 108 is a digital fashion collection—only replicated in physical form when necessary to cut down on textile usage—existing in the metaverse to enable wearers to experiment and feel empowered in self-expression through fashion. The six looks are otherworldly—multicoloured mandalas glow against the dark fabric in a celebration of sacred geometry and the beauty of the universe.