Fashion insider tells all

Fashion insider tells all
Fashion show producer Daniel Boey, with his new book.

Fashion show producer and consultant Daniel Boey's new book, The Book Of Daniel: Adventures Of A Fashion Insider, is one man's attempt to raise the profile of Singapore's fashion industry.

As Singapore approaches its golden jubilee next year and Boey marks his 25th year in the fashion business, the book could not have been launched at a better time.

Part memoir and part history, the 460-page glossy book looks at Singapore's fashion and modelling scene from the late 1970s till today, as well as his career that has taken him to the world's fashion capitals to work for Vivienne Westwood, Julien Macdonald and Matthew Williamson.

He has worked with brands such as Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton here.

Affectionately known in the industry as Singapore's Godfather of Fashion, Boey, who also turns 50 next year, launched his book at the Singapore Writers Festival last Saturday.

The event drew a crowd including models, make-up artists and even Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, who was a model in his younger days.

"I don't think enough has been written about our earlier fashion designers. There was a time when Singapore designers were revered; they were like gods. This is my way of paying tribute to them, because without them, I wouldn't have a career," says Boey during an interview with Urban.

The careers of veteran designers such as Thomas Wee, Tan Yoong, Frederick Lee and Dick Lee, as well as former top models such as Nora Ariffin, Seraphina Fong and Ethel Fong, are written about at length in the book that spans 30 chapters.

The road to success was not at all smooth for Singapore's fashion pioneers. Wee, for instance, spent his early years creating frocks for his Bugis Street cabaret showgirl friends.

Dick Lee is described as the "patron saint of Singapore's fashion".

His now-defunct multi-label boutique Hemispheres was one of the few outlets where local designers could sell their creations. It was also the place to be seen as "everyone hung out at Hemispheres".

Boey says: "I felt that it was about time to stop telling journalists to do their fashion research when there is no in-depth resource to turn to."

The book is a nostalgic trip for those who can remember Singapore's early fashion scene.

For millennials, the book will be an eye-opener as they picture the past, including Lucky Plaza's former glory.

When it was built in 1978, it was a progressive mall - with 26 two-way escalators and bubble lifts - where many local designers set up shop.

As a geography and literature graduate from the National University of Singapore, Boey says the writing, which started on a flight to London last Christmas and ended in May this year, came easily.

To research, he dug up old articles by former Straits Times fashion journalists such as Lim Phay Ling, Cat Ong and John de Souza. Early on in his career, he kept journals about his work, which helped in the writing process.

Sourcing photographs was more difficult, but those who enjoy history will be in for a treat.

There are pictures of the 1989 Singapore International Shopping Festival held along Orchard Road, Zouk in its early days and Metro at Far East Plaza.

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