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Saturday, June 14, 2014

AFF 2014 - Interviews with Singapore Designers Aijek and Triologie

One of the highlights for me at this year's AFF was that there was a stronger focus on Singapore designers. Hansel, Saturdays and Ong Shanmugam all had their solo show debut at AFF, together with Aijek, Triologie and AWOL, whom showed together during the Singapore Designers Showcase. I thought that since AFF is still indisputably the big fashion event in Singapore, and one which has built up an international reputation, it should showcase homegrown talents, and not just international ones.

How's a "Singapore Fashion Week" as termed by foreigners who visit a Singapore fashion week without some Singapore designers?

I caught up with the Danelle Woo of Aijek and Sylvia Lim of Triologie for an interview on their thoughts of showing during AFF for the first time -

Triologie at AFF 1 Naked Glory: You've been designing for quite a while now. How do you feel about being invited to show at this year's AFF? 
Sylvia Lim: This is Triologie’s first at Audi Fashion Fest. It feels like Alice in Wonderland as we anticipate seeing the surprises behind each door. All good and very exciting times for Triologie!

NG: Who is the woman that dresses in Triologie?
SL: Triologie is conceived for the modern female who loves to discover and enrich her life with fresh experiences. Dreamer, traveller and trendsetter all at once, the Triologie woman possesses a timeless fervour for life, transcending boundaries with delightful ease. Embracing spontaneity, wearability and versatility.

Triologie at AFF 2 NG: I noticed that you draw your design inspirations from several different sources. How does the design process work between the two of you and how does it translate into the actual product? 
SL:  It’s about story-telling. Each season, we create our own stories for the Triologie woman who embraces spontaneity, wearability and versatility through its silhouettes and detailing with a consistent handwriting. Designing is about story-telling and fashion is a lifestyle. Whether Tales of the Jazz age based on 1920s silhouettes, to Wizard of Oz in the 1930s, Quintessentially French to Audrey Hepburn at Breakfast at Tiffany’s in the 50s. Each season we tell a story based on a certain time period, fabric story colour palette and silhouette. Jenn takes care of the design process primarily while I fine‐tune and edit. I am the one who says all the “Nos” to all the “Yes”. I am the more evil of the two.

NG: How do you hope for the brand to progress forward in the next 3 years? 
SL: My greatest hope is for someone/people who believe in Triologie to take it to their own countries! I need to clone myself!

Aijek at AFF 1 Naked Glory: Hi Danelle! Welcome back to Singapore! How do you feel about being back? Has anything changed for you? 
DW: It's awesome to be home!! The best experience for me since being back has to be meeting my customers. I returned to Singapore for good early this year, and met my customers for the first time at the stores when we dropped our new arrivals for spring summer. Through the 4 years since Aijek's birth, i have been working with my head buried in my designs and fabrics. The clothes were selling well and we have had great responses from stores in US, Hong Kong and Singapore but I have never really met customers face to face before. We may not know each other's names but we connected instantly. They spoke to me about their lives, their family, their friends who also are Aijek fans. It was like revisiting a old photo album for them, vividly remembering the night out with their girlfriends while wearing Aijek. But it was everything to me - I finally understood that Aijek is not just about clothing, it is about people.

NG: You actually have a stronger presence in US and China, where you used to live, as opposed to Singapore. How do you feel about showing here for the first time?
DW: Surprisingly, we have a large customer following in Singapore. The stores that stocks Aijek has been garnering a following since the last 3 years when the brand launched. I am proud beyond words to be opening the show for the Singapore Designers Showcase. We have come to long way to be here from starting up in a home studio in Shanghai to being stocked in various parts of the world, to now doing our very first runway in Singapore. On a personal note, it holds great meaning to be showing in Singapore after 15 years on the road and coming home full circle - it's an unexpected welcome gift for Aijek and myself!

Aijek at AFF 2 Aijek at AFF 3 NG: Tell me more about your recent SS14 collection. I see lots of lace, embroidery and jacquard - is there a deliberate move towards using such textured fabrics?
DW: We wanted to inject textures and variety to our silk and lace pieces Aijek is known for. This season we ventured into contrasting floral embroidery, and tone on tone embroidery to romanticize the collection. The collection called Fly Home is about discovering a woman's journey into the world and coming back home to finally understand the ironies and contradictions life has on her. It is about the opposites of the reality of life and the fantasy of dreams. We used leather on soft silks and laces, as well as feminine and masculine opposing silhouettes to create an interplay of opposites.

NG: What can we expect from you for upcoming collections? 
DW: Aijek is known to our customer for its easy to wear, timeless pieces. We continue to appeal to the modern women on the run, flying between cities for work, making time for the family. The real women i see today. We speak to them to create pieces that fits into their lifestyles, their personalities. Aijek's silk and lace feminine pieces continue to be our signature, as we inject new elements season after season.

With elegant dresses and easy casual wear separates with a strong attention to detail, cut and quality, it's no wonder that Aijek has captured the hearts of many women in Singapore and internationally. I'm definitely hoping to see more from this amazing lady in the future.

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