SINGAPORE - How many winners of talent-based competitions go on to become stars in their chosen fields? Not that many; most disappear after a all the buzz has died down. The really talented, however, go on to make a name for themselves and prove that their win wasn't a one-hit-wonder.
In 2014, Singapore's "fashion week" - Audi Fashion Festival - has carried a bit of talent-proves-true theme with shows from designers like Thomas Tait - who is only 26 but in the running to win the first LVMH Young Fashion Designer Award after already bagging the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize - and lawyer-turned-designer Priscila Shunmugam whose label is only three years old but she's already racking up the awards with a win at the Design For Asia Awards 2013.
The theme continued with a runway show for the 2013 winners of the Audi Star Creation designer competition - Vu Ta Linh, 27, from Vietnam and Sun Yijin, 25, from China.
After a year's internship with Singapore's very own fashion retailer FJ Benjamin, the two young designers put together individual capsule collections that refined their original winning ideas and moved them forward into retail-ready ranges that displayed not only their creators' original talent but also the tempering of working in the "real world" of the fashion industry.
VU TA LINH
Vietnam's Vu Ta Linh opened the show with his eponymous label and a collection entitled "Indigo" with a concept based on a popular Vietnamese song of the same name that includes lyrics like "Say what you want to say, do what you want to do" that resonated with the designer. The song title dictated the colour palette and the concept of being free to be original allowed the collection to explore less usual shapes and construction methods.
What all this translated into on the runway was a series of softly feminine, loose shapes using fabrics of various weights and textures - a wool plaid combined with cotton voile or brocade for example - that appeared to envelop the body. Vu's skill with draping helped to give shape to the pieces and the addition of appliqued lace pieces or additional patterned fabrics served to emphasise the "natural" nature of the collection.
There was a real "Mori girl" feel to Vu's work; a Japanese subculture based on the concept of "mori" or forest fashion that emphasises natural fabrics and colours as well as simple patterns like checks and plaids, in loose layers.
The best pieces of the Indigo collection were a fabulous tunic with a Buddhist monk feel about its folds and colour; a great soft, hooded blanket coat in plaid and an enormous, full-length, circle skirt paired with a neat patchwork vest that was Vu's finale piece.
Overall this was a quietly confident collection from the designer; while the style may not be to everyone's taste, the gentle shapes and detailed textures showed that Vu's win was not a fluke. I look forward to seeing how he progresses in future.