By Asfar Alim (18S03J) and Joan Ang (17A01B)
Photos by Abdul Qayyum (17A01B) and Raffles Photographic Society
Runway is one of the less conventional CCAs offered at RI — instead of sports competitions or concerts, Raffles Runway annually stages RPROJECT, a fashion show curated and organised by the CCA, featuring original pieces designed and sewn by its members. From ticketing to designs to the gorgeous photobook given to each audience member, every aspect of the show was put together by Runway members themselves.
The theme of this year’s show was RPROJECT: Origin. Centred around the idea of beginnings, each designer’s collection sought to explore a different interpretation of the theme, from depictions of the universe (‘Aurora’, Cherie Ng), to the various stages in a life cycle (‘Metamorphosis’, Fabiolo Susilo). More importantly, the show was a presentation of the designers’ own journeys, and as said in their introduction to the photobook: “this is a show of our Origin.”
The show was held on campus this year, a departure from last year’s, which was held at Capitol Theatre; still, the reporters were blown away by the sheer beauty of the set, with the MPH transformed into a glamorous setting. Seats were arranged in several concentric circles centred around a small stage. Models would catwalk through the audience before reaching centre stage, their gorgeous outfits on display for the entire hall to see.
On the stage itself, block letters spelling out ‘RUNWAY’ and the fairy lights delicately strung across the backs of the seats bathed the room in a warm glow, giving the MPH a mellow quality.
RPROJECT: Origin was kicked off with the showcase of the junior collection, designed by the Year 5s. Each had been tasked to design one or two pieces, and the stunning display made clear the sheer amount of effort put in. In particular, designer Darrell Koh’s (18S03D) pieces stood out by choosing to dress one model in tattered sleeves and knee-high socks, an unconventional set in comparison to the rest of the collection.
Another outstanding piece was Monica Murtidjaja’s (18S06H) snow-white piece, which opted for long sleeves and slits down the sides, while utilizing a fleece colour and vest. The design was adorned with pink and purple flowers, adding a sense of traditional femininity to the piece; yet, the cut of the piece made it innovative and modern.
After a short video showcasing their designs, one by one, the larger, more stylised senior collections were put on display.
‘Aurora’ by Runway chairperson Cherie Ng (17S03H) took the lead, comprising coats and dresses with elaborate sequin designs. At first, it seemed as though the darker pieces of the collection were at odds with the theme of the Aurora itself — yet, it was this contrast that was the key concept of the collection, representing the changing colours and volatility of the Aurora.
The audience was then left in awe as the model for the design Hale marched onto the stage, with his long fur cape sweeping the floor. The design Monroe, however, stole the show with its stunning black-and-gold dress and headdress which gave its model the appearance of a goddess. This beautiful collection, ‘Soul’ by Keran Wei (17S03Q), sought to explore the various manifestations of the soul, and the different ways that people view such manifestations.
When asked about the ideational process behind her collection, Keran replied that she had “always been interested in different people’s conceptions of beauty” and sought to express that in her pieces — from the “most organic to the most refined” ideas of it, not just in designs, but also in “fabric and models”.
Another collection that took the same angle was ‘Metamorphosis’ by Fabiola Susilo (17S06A). Each model personified the the different stages of a butterfly’s life cycle, from a caterpillar to a chrysalis before becoming a beautiful butterfly. In her design process, Fabiola identified key traits of each stage that she wanted to bring out in her garments, such as the textured exterior of an eggshell, or the spreading wings of a butterfly, resulting in a collection that was incredibly diverse in design.
Deviating from these darker designs was ‘Ostara’ by Hu Junyi (17S07D), who applied pastel colour schemes that complemented each other in a warm, refreshing way. Black is a versatile colour, one that is easy to match, and Junyi’s decision not to use it made her collection that much more of a challenge to the designer herself. Yet, she pulled it off with finesse: the collection was centred around the theme of unconditional love, with the garments making use of natural imagery, such as small birds and floral patterns, to evoke a sense of awe in the viewer.
The varying natural landscape of our world was explored in the collection ‘Horae’ by Wang Yuxing (17S03N). Themed around the never-ending cycle of the seasons, Yuxing’s collection sought to explore the passage of time and our awareness of the process, utilising more vibrant colours for spring and summer, while opting for cooler, more chilling colours in autumn and winter. Ultimately, the collection, like the others of her batch, tackled a central question: where do we begin?
The presentation of the senior collections over, the audience was then treated to a short montage of the buildup to that night’s show: from the conceptualization of the costumes, to taking the measurements of and styling the various models, each aspect of Origins had been created by the Runway batches themselves. The montage also gave us a look behind the scenes of the show, showing short clips of artful hair arrangements, but also humorous clips of Runway members eating bread in the Runway room.
As expanded on by Marilyn Kang (17A01B), “the conception of the show begins right after handover. The theme is everything, and we have to decide that first because we design according to it, and after that we smooth out the budget in accordance with the theme and a rough idea of the venue.”
With garment-making done by February, the process then “steamrolls” into photoshoots and additional filming in order to promote the event. “After that,” she said, “we’re kind of done until rehearsals, while we continue to source out stuff for the actual show.”
Throughout the entire night, this crystallized what had been clearly visible to the audience all along. The sheer amount of talent and hard work that had been invested into the entire production truly revealed to us the depths of the batch’s passion for fashion, all culminating in this final, stunning showcase.
RPROJECT: Origin officially came to a close as all the models and designers made one last catwalk through the MPH and gave a final bow.
However, what was most heartening was the immense amount of support from the audience members, who cheered fervently for their friends onstage. This sentiment was best expressed by Runway chair Cherie Ng: “Even though fashion may not be everybody’s cup of tea, we’re grateful for everybody who came down to support their friends”.
The final words by the graduating EXCO certainly showed the hard work and dedication that made this year’s showcase a success, not just on the part of the designers, but the models as well, whose grace and charisma were clearly displayed to the audience. Runway may not be as conventionally appealing as some other CCAs in RI, but their pure dedication to their art made the whole experience worth it, from the glitz and glamour of the ending to its humble origins in the Runway room.