Featuring Li Shan Ng
Chanel freed women, and I empowered them.
– Yves Saint Laurent
FROM COCO CHANEL'S Chanel Suit to Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking tuxedo suit, womenswear designers have, over the years, mixed femininity and masculinity to produce gender-bending garments designed to sexually liberate and bring confidence to the everyday woman. They have shown us that you do not need to cut your hair, don an armour and go to war like Mulan to feel powerful. All you need is the right set of clothes and you are ready to go! Recent Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) BFA in Apparel Design programme graduate, Li Shan Ng is set out to continue Saint Laurent’s empowering mission and help you become that warrior you want to be.
Titled ‘Coat of Arms’, Li Shan’s latest fall/winter offering was inspired by European armours from the 14th to 16th century. She was very taken by the idea of how the armour serves to protect and give strength to the wearer in addition to being a beautiful work of art with impeccable craftsmanship to match.
Li Shan’s research process involved going to libraries, consulting with an arms and armour curator and visiting various armour collections such as the ones at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Wallace collection in London.
Constructed with mostly cream, grey and black fabric and leather to emulate the cold metal of armour, Li Shan included just that little tinge of red to express the regality of armour as well as its relation to the body. With her skilful mix of hard and soft, Li Shan perfectly balanced the femininity and masculinity of the clothing from her collection.
I want people to respect the woman I design for and maybe even be a little afraid.
Li Shan hopes to give the wearer of her garments a sense of self-control and strength and maybe just a little power to intimidate. In fact, the black cape from the collection actually looks like something that Disney’s no. 1 villian, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty would wear.
Li Shan understands that her collection is more editorial ready than made for the everyday woman. She enjoys high fashion for the challenge that it brings and the beauty of its construction and concepts. Despite that, Li Shan is perfectly aware of the business importance and practicality of prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) clothing.
Ever since returning back home to Singapore, she has deliberately been looking for jobs within that sector in hope that it will help her deepen her understanding of the fashion business and trends as well as help her grow and mature as a designer.
For now, we’ll see where things take me.
Li Shan is quite the free spirit like Jessa Johansson from Girls when it comes to what she expects of her future. While she has hopes and dreams for the future, they are in her own words, ‘ever shifting and changing in accordance with circumstance and priorities’.
'Who knows where I'll end up?' were her parting words for me.