Ong Shunmugam Deconstructs Kimono for Cruise 2016 Collection


Singapore designer Priscilla Shunmugam has repeatedly demonstrated her ability to find beautiful vintage fabrics and mix and match them to create well-tailored silhouettes, often inspired by traditional Asian costumes, but with a thoroughly contemporary twist.

For Ong Shunmugam’s Cruise 2016 collection, presented on Friday as part of Singapore Fashion Week (SGFW2015), the designer moved away from her reinterpretations of the traditional Chinese qipao silhouette that has served her so well and instead started to deconstruct the Japanese Kimono.

Her Japanese-inspired silhouettes have the pomp of the geisha’s kimono, but a more casual feel of a farm girl’s (albeit a very chic one). Using traditional batik fabrics and mixing them with lace and cotton, Shunmugam sent down the runway 28 polished looks that had a nonchalance about them, somewhat amplified by having the models wear tennis shoes.

There were fetching colorful obi belts and eye-catching slim kimono sleeves that worked particularly well on blouses that would dress up a casual pair of jeans, but also work perfectly with a long black evening skirt.

Some of the trousers offered a twist on the wrap-around skirt while bows at the bottom of a skirt added a little extra youthful femininity. The designer has also paid great attention to the back of her silhouettes and these had either interesting cut outs or used lace to great effect.

The overall palette of gray, blue, and emerald green was contrasted with brief flashes of orange, which worked well, except when the designer moved into a more fluorescent orange that gave her outfits a rather costume feel but may appeal to young partygoers.

Shunmugam was showing her collection as part of a pilot edition of the Fashion Futures program — a talent development platform organized by Council of Fashion Designers of America and Singapore Fashion Week that gave three established Singapore designers the opportunity to have personal critique sessions with SGFW 2015’s visiting designers Diane von Furstenberg, Thakoon, and Victoria Beckham, as well as their participation in the Council of Fashion Designers America (CFDA) Induction Program which will see them fly to New York to meet with CFDA designers, industry representatives, and mentors.

Priscilla Shumnagam is one Asia designer shaping up to take her place on the international fashion scene.