RPROJ’19: RISE

By Gabrielle Ng (20A01E) and Shervon Lee (19S06A) 
Photographs courtesy of Jensen Huang (20S06T) and Koh Jia Hao (20S06M) of Raffles Photographic Society

The usual hustle and bustle of Bugis Street would have given no hint of a special event to the unsuspecting shopper. The only giveaway was the peppy chatter of fashionably dressed students streaming into the obscure but grand Joyden Hall, nestled right above Bugis+. As students hurried to find a seat in the visibly popular venue, ushers decked in impressive ensembles and flawless makeup greeted them with a photobook documenting the year-long fruition of Raffles Runway’s efforts—‘RISE’.

Applause and supportive cheers greeted the first J1 model as she confidently strutted down the walkway, unfazed by the prospect of being the audience’s first impression of the show. The showcase of George Bai (20S06S), Amanda Chuah (20A01A), and Celeste Tan’s (20S06F) ‘Still We Rise’ successfully kickstarted the show with an eye-catching pink drape, a blazer paired with a pencil skirt, and a minimalist upside-down top; their collection drew inspiration from past influential movements like Second Wave Feminism. 

Speaking with regards to her work—a pink drape over a white and black set—Amanda revealed that the outfit had in fact been completed only 5 minutes before the photoshoot. A first-time designer, she spoke of the importance of improvisation that she gleaned from the experience: she managed to craft an originally loose piece of cloth into a chic open back. 

Next up, Hu Junhui (20S06D), Angeline Rebecca Gomes (20S06E), and Sarah Lok (20A03A) impressed with their depiction of ‘Retrograde’. Comprising tan cargo pants, a deconstructed shirt, and patterned flare bottoms alongside many other playful elements, their creations may have seemed adventurous but eventually proved a clever amalgamation of vintage and modern elements. 

‘Seasons’, by Sun Yi (20S03O), Yang Shiying (20S03Q), and Nicole Sam (20S03L), was a stark yet much welcomed contrast. Their first model gleamed under the spotlight with a soft, shimmery gold dress adorned with delicate floral embellishments, and a matching flower crown delicately perched atop her head; sheer pink and ivory hues from the outfits of their next two models perfectly completed their theme.  

The Y5’s time to shine came to a grand end with ‘Flow’ by Dylan Clark (20A01C), Lu Xiling (20S02A), and Tan Yanning (20A03A). The collection comprised outfits that sported rainbow trimmings against an elegantly simple white dress, asymmetrical placements of black and white fabric, and a shirt with white shoelace threaded at the top in a shoelace pattern. The collection was, truly, a sight for the eyes. 

For the second segment of the show, each Y6 took on the daunting task of designing three to four outfits by themselves: this made us, as audience members, all the more excited to see how each designer would flourish in this creative space.

Loud cheers and hoots greeted the first model as she strutted out in a full-cream ensemble, with a large gold belt accentuating her waist; the sheer gown shifted behind her as she made her walk. Perhaps the most eye-catching prop of the night—large angel wings—made its appearance: the golden feathers at the back of the wings enhanced the ethereal quality of the prop, leaving many gaping at the size of it. Looking like they had come straight from heaven onto the runway, the models made a final walk with their designer, Ivan Low (19S06O). Excitement buzzed through the air as the audience waited on the edge of their seats for the next designer. 

Grandeur graced the stage in the form of heavy capes, crowns, and even bat wings for Wang Yuchen’s (19S06M) collection. With the colour scheme almost strictly keeping to black, red, and gold, the runway was momentarily transformed into a high-end party in the past. The models made their way through the audience and up on stage, maintaining a haughty expression that would probably put aristocrats to shame. The gold on the bedazzled cape shone in the spotlight, enrapturing everyone in the audience as the kings and queens did a final walk.

The fluttery flow of the sheer fabric, simplicity of polka-dot patterns, and creative props came together to form a light-hearted ensemble by Hazel Lye (19A01C). The minimal use of colours highlighted the light texture and gave an ethereal quality to the outfits; even the transparent coat on the last outfit blended seamlessly into the mood. Towards the end, two models even walked the runway again to swap props, putting a flower and a hat on each other, cueing hoots and laughter from the audience. 

An elegant polka-dotted skirt paired with a sheer off-shoulder top.

Periwinkle, the gentlest mix of blue and violet, paired with greys and whites to give a rather adorably sleepy vibe that encapsulated Stella Chio’s (19A13B) collection. Much like a cat cuddling up on a blanket on a quiet morning, the outfits were soft, flowy and rather comfortable; even  the jewels donning the first outfit seemed to glow softly rather than shine bright, as they lay against the whites and blues. Truly, when the models stood together, it was a sight to behold. The outfits exuded ease, and provided for a rather comforting contrast from the heavier styles of the other designers. 

The soft blue hues of Stella’s collection.

Vibrant floral details and sheer, pastel silhouettes were the highlight of Kylia Toh’s (19S03L) ‘blush’. Her model wore a three-tiered pink dress lined with petals as she grasped a skeletal umbrella in her hands, each length of the frame ingeniously studded by clusters of vivid colour. A light purple trail behind another dress and the contrast of plain black and colour on the model’s shirt added to the elegance of Kylia’s ensemble.

One of the most eye-catching props of the night: a skeletal umbrella adorned with flowers.

If one took a look at the colour wheel, one would realise that the colours there were insufficient, especially so for the clothes that Linda Zheng (19S06B) had presented. From the very bright and unique coral colour, to the duller and rather odd shades of beige, Linda’s unique mastery and usage of various colours was breathtaking. Particularly, the combination of yellow and red was endearingly reminiscent of an iconic childhood idol—Winnie the Pooh. 

As the music changed to Victorious by Panic! at the Disco, the audience waited with bated breath as the words “Delinquent Years” flashed across the screen. Sure enough, the outfits were characteristic of what many of us might understand as “the emo phase”: within the same colour of black, Valerie Ng (19S06B) made use of a wide variety of textures (with a surprising amount of leather) to diversify the pieces of clothing. Stepping onto the stage, Valerie’s own black ensemble blended in seamlessly with the models’ as they took a final bow. 

The emo phase, as depicted by Valerie.

Perhaps the collection most overtly related to the central theme of time, Cassandra Tan’s (19S03E) Shape of Time featured outfits with numerous nude and earthy colours. Whoever said that only colours made things interesting was definitely proven wrong that night: the shades of brown and beige tastefully colouring ordinary pieces. The classiness was subtle, be it through an off-shoulder shift or a tiny leather outerwear layered on a simple top, effectively giving a duality to the outfits. 

Whilst Cassandra’s outfits looked like everyday clothing, they proved to be stunning on the runway.

Characterised by the bold simplicity of black words on solid blocks of colours, this collection showcased how fabric can be moulded into something different and unique. In every piece, time was featured as a central element, usually in the form of the word itself in large black letters on a white piece of fabric. The highlight of Wu Xinyue’s (19A01D) collection of Time Universal Coordinated was definitely the statement pieces of every outfit. 

The roaring start of an engine served as a prelude to the last of the J2s’ individual showcases: the polar opposites of Yin and Yang were beautifully encapsulated within Velda Phua’s (19A01C) cleverly crafted outfits. Her collection comprised items such as a cheekily-slit skirt, zippers on the sides of shirts, and a thoughtful bow detail. Velda’s own sheer floral ensemble perfectly complemented her models’ outfits as they held hands down the runway.

Yin and Yang, as depicted by Velda.

Following their individual showcases—where their different styles really stood out—the Runway Batch of 2019 came together to examine the rise and falls of fashion through time in the collection KOI. Despite their differences in opinion or style, this item showed what Runway was to the designers: at the end of the day, they were all students who loved fashion. KOI took the audience through the different time periods—Medieval, Renaissance, Formal Wear, and Streetwear—and even predicted a future trend of a stylish transparent outerwear over a simple black ensemble (whether this is accurate remains to be seen). 

Beyond the glamorous stage lights and red carpets, the designers and their models had put in much sweat and toil. Amanda recalled the frantic passing of makeup boxes, the countless minuscule pricks on her fingers obtained while sewing, and an abundance of safety pins behind the scenes.  She shared with us that fashion “is not simply a frivolous pursuit”: while many may think that it is a standardly vain, or even wasteful pastime, her experience showed her that fashion was “a medium through which people express themselves and make a statement”. 

When prompted about what RISE was to the batch, Chairperson Linda said, “It celebrates our individuality in reconciliation with one another, and, hopefully, will inspire you to rise to even greater heights.” Sure enough, the message of RISE was clear to see: it was a showcase synthesising the creativity and passion of many designers that stood testament to the effort of the batch. Every single outfit was the result of relentless hard work: to be able to see all of it come together was the honour of every single member of the audience that night. 

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