Singapore fashion designer Thomas Wee never fails to impress; from his dedication to rigorous tailoring and inspired cutting, to his elegant lines, strong use of colour and an inspired way with volume, this man is a designer who really should be showing on the Paris runway.
For his collection for Spring Summer 2014 - which Thomas actually described as being more a "resort" range rather than a full-blown spring summer - the maestro conjured up an image of an elegant woman of refined taste but with a sense of adventure.
Taking inspiration from the "truly glamorous" movie stars of the 1950s and early 1960s, the collection opened with Thomas' signature strong, clear red in the form of tailored wide-legged cotton brocade shorts with a shell top and more shorts but this time with a cropped top - on trend and fresh but still refined. The cotton brocade added a very modern volume and softness.
The cropped top shape ran through the collection, refreshing and updating the original 50s fee. Likewise, what appeared to be classic circle skirts were instead full-legged culottes. A woven brocade shell top was cut to mimic a slouchy sweatshirt; more hints at on-trend shapes, but done so elegantly that they transcended streetwear.
Thomas' signature "folded" cuts were added to the mix, fabulous wide, wide, wide-legged pants continued the theme of volume. Moving from red to white, Thomas began incorporating touches of traditional Chinese costume with high-collars, cheongsam-shaped tops blown-out into peplum shapes.
Thomas Wee is one of the few Asian designers able to incorporate traditional shapes, and even fabrics like gold stitched brocade, without becoming derivative or cheesy; his women never look as though they are wearing costumes.
Continuous fabulous details like the Thomas Wee bow and contrast colour long zips on the rear of the garments added to the richness of the collection; every piece was completely thought through; and the consistency reinforced the designer's message.
One amazingly cut piece, an "old school" bra top reminiscent of 1950s bathing suits, stood out beautifully. Teamed with luxurious full skirts, the bra top remained elegant despite the expanse of bare skin; this is a perfectly elegant way to show off your body without looking crass.
An added fillip to the runway show was the appearance of The Face winner Devyn Abdullah. Wearing classic Thomas Wee - a pencil skirt topped with a bracelet sleeved swing coat and cinched with a modern version of an obi belt - Devyn channeled her mentor Naomi Campbell with her strong walk and practiced turns.
The solid colours morphed into an absolutely fabulous floral print in red on white and later red on black; the addition of print to Thomas' precise cuts gave the looks a modern appeal, particularly in the print-on-print separates of wide-legged shorts and shell tops; capri pants with sleeveless top and another of the fabulous bra tops with a voluminous skirt.
Thomas even managed to modernise the sometimes difficult "sack back" shape - extended pleating and volume that creates a "sack" on the back of a garment - on a day dress with a narrow skirt.
One piece in green - a silk shantung cheongsam top - paired with knee-length fitted shorts and finished off with a large red zip and bow down the back stood out as the only colour that wasn't red, white or black, and showed that there is a way to pair red and green and not look like a Christmas decoration. The single touch of green was an inspired decision.
Another piece that both the designer, and the viewers, loved was a "single button" shirt with wide cuffed sleeves; the midriff was bared but when paired with high-waisted, wide-legged trousers the look was cooly refined.
The final look of the collection, worn of course by Devyn, was a reference to Thomas' previous demi couture work and featured a waterfall skirt of double-faced silk - one side red, with the black interior showing - topped by a full-sleeved v-neck blouse in cotton voile and wrapped once again with an obi-style belt incorporating the collection print and gold.
From start to finish, the Thomas Wee Spring Summer 2014 "resort" collection was beautiful. The fabrics, the strong colours, the volume … but most of all it came down to the fabulous cut. It is Thomas' cutting skills that take his clothes from wearable to wonderful.
The Thomas Wee Spring Summer 2014 collection was shown on November 2, 2013, as part of Singapore's Digital Fashion Week. For more information about Thomas Wee, go to www.designsingapore.org. Digital Fashion Week 2013 runs until November 4, 2013, at the Singapore Design Centre, 111 Middle Road, Singapore 188969.
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