Currently a fashion designer at Positive Reach, Evelyn Chia, 24, has a talent for transforming big ideas into highly wearable clothes. For the competition, the Raffles College of Higher Education graduate looked to the majestic vistas of the Grand Canyon and came up with a tight collection of sharp separates printed, beaded, and fringed like garments of the native tribes, but rendered as cool sportswear. She also turned out an impressive pair of dresses hand-sewn to look like the canyon’s rock formations.
Why were you inspired by the Grand Canyon?
I’ve always been inspired by nature. I watched a documentary on the Grand Canyon and was attracted to its beauty, history, and mystery that I started reading up on it. I decided to name my collection Pilgrimage because I felt that it was a holy site and this collection was a journey to it.
How did you translate the idea of the Grand Canyon into clothes?
The collection was inspired by the geology of Grand Canyon and the Hualapai tribe. The colour combination reflected the different types of rocks and I layered them to make it look like rock formations. I found linen wool with prints that suited the tribal theme so I used sequins and beads to decorate it like how the Hualapai tribe would embroider their costumes. Also I used silk organza to create the feeling of mist softly enveloping the canyon.
What is fresh about your work?
I’m always thinking about how to make my clothes different even though the elements may be commonly used: sequins, fringe, and beads. I used them to make clothes that are a little different, but still wearable. Besides that, I was also constantly trying to find ways to bring the colours and feel of the earth into the clothes.
The most important thing you learned from the judges?
One of their constructive comments was that my collection was lacking “wow factor”, in the sense that the audience might not be able to see the workmanship and details from the runway. It’s something I’m trying to work on, to think about the showmanship in addition to wearability.
Lessons from your job designing for wholesale?
It gave me a more commercial point of view. Also, I’ve never taken any courses in fashion business or marketing but the job was a great, hands-on way to learn about that side of fashion.
Images: Chuan Looi. Styling: Kenneth Goh. Interview: Jeffrey Yan