Cover Donned in Jon Max Goh's designs, the models cross the runway set-up within the Asian Civilisation Museum (Photos: Tatler Singapore)

The winner will get to showcase their apparel during Paris Fashion Week fall/winter 2022, as well as gain retail opportunities with Design Orchard

This story was first published on October 29, 2021, and updated on October 30, 2021.

Singapore Stories 2021 has come to a close as all five finalists presented their collections for the last time before an expert panel of judges. Singaporean designer Jon Max Goh emerged as the winner for his inventive interpretation of the theme, Singapore's cultural heritage.

Organised by the Textile and Fashion Federation (Taff), and presented by Sing Lun and MTM Labo, Singapore Stories 2021 is a design competition that seeks not only to promote local fashion but also to identify and groom tomorrow's couturier. With the chance to showcase their apparel during Paris Fashion Week fall/winter 2022, as well as retail opportunities with Design Orchard, Singapore Stories 2021 is set to be a game-changing step forward for the winner.

With such amazing opportunities in store for Goh, we can’t wait to see more from this talented individual.

Below, we find out what went down in Singapore Stories 2021’s finale.

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When we last checked in on our finalists, they had completed their tour of Singapore's National Collection that's housed at the Heritage Conservation Centre (HCC). Inspired by the cross-cultural elements that make-up Singapore's heritage, the collection is a blend that Kennie Ting, director of Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), describes as "[an aesthetic that is] East and West coming together".

Held at ACM, finalists saw their visions come to life as models donned their painstakingly created works. These were then presented to judges including Ting, chief executive of Taff, Semun Ho, and Tatler Singapore's editior-in-chief Karishma Tulsidas.

The collections that were showcased shared a common thread as they all drew strong influences from Singapore's melting pot of different cultures and heritage. 

Take Yan Ng's collection that she titled The Picnic, for example. It is a collection built with hexagonal patches—made from excess fabrics found in her atelier—that were hand-sewn together to create a tessellated aesthetic.

"My style is very inspired by the '70s, just because it was a fun and wild era. Here, prints go on top of prints and even other mismatched prints. I like to use this to present what my brand stands for," Ng explained. 

Angeline Oei's collection, in contrast, featured a strong Chinese influence with contrasting coloured prints of dragons and flora against monochromatic hues. Inspired by the slimness found in the deep sea diving wetsuits and the form-fittingness of the traditional Chinese dresses, Oei's collection was a stunning hybrid of modernity and heritage.

"This is a collection of modern classics that combine clean streamlined silhouettes with soft-space symmetry and inverted tones," Oei said.

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However, one contestant had taken a different approach to their collection, and that was Goh's avant-garde designs that did not utilise oriental elements the same way his fellow contestants did.

Goh said: "The collection for me is a dream world: of what a non-eurocentric landscape might look like. My hope for this collection is for it to use fashion and garments to question these cultural narratives and memories, in order to celebrate our heritage."

As the judges deliberated over the winner of Singapore Stories 2021, the finalists also shared their post-competition plans. 

Khemka was excited about the prospect of jetting off to Paris Fashion Week.

However, she also expressed optimism for her designs even if she did not win: "I think the collection is very strong and it has given me the confidence to do more couture work in the future."

Boonchuayseng, a designer who hails from a long line of established tailors in Thailand, had something else in mind entirely.

"If I win, it's time to create a new collection," she shared excitedly. 

Outside of the great opportunities awarded to the winner, Singapore Stories spotlights the ever-growing landscape of the local fashion design scene. Through its support of local designers and their vision, the competition creates an arena that showcases these talented individuals. In fact, Wilson Teo, president of Taff, believes that this competition hasn't just sought out new talents, but also fostered them.

"This year, we continue to witness the amount of talent in the local fashion design industry. We hope to expand beyond our Asian stories and celebrate designers, both emerging and established, while fostering talent development as well as collaboration in the region," Teo said.

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