SINGAPORE — This city is gearing up for fashion week as its partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America starts to take shape.
CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg and CFDA ceo Steven Kolb have already touched down in the Southeast Asian capital to launch Fashion Futures, a business development program that will bring the work of three Singapore-based designers to New York in July. The three selected are locally established designers: Chelsea Scott-Blackhall of Dzojchen, Sabrina Goh of Elohim, and Priscilla Ong of Ong Shunmugam.
“You have to start somewhere, so just make today a beginning,” Von Furstenberg said Tuesday at a press conference after meeting with the three designers. “The reason why I can say it like that with strength is because the three designers [that Fashion Futures] are featuring are very good. I didn’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect this level of talent, craftsmanship and professionalism that I saw.”
Von Furstenberg said that Asia remains the biggest market in the world, and the CFDA hopes to use its vast global network to help young, talented designers gain an international audience. But she added that it was important the designers remain focused on Asia as their main market, despite their desire for exposure in the West.
“We think that by inviting you to New York, you’d get exposure,” she said, one day before opening Singapore Fashion Week’s five-day run with a show recapping her fall-winter collection. “But really, at the end, where you would have the most exposure is back in Asia because Asia is the big market.”
Ong, the designer behind Ong Shunmugam, said that the main takeaway she hopes for from this program is to gain access to buyers and designers, as well as learn from their criticisms.
“With CFDA being a partner in this, we would get exposure to amazing people in New York that we would never get the chance to meet,” Ong said, “In my case, that one chance to show them my work. And if I have five minutes, seven minutes, it’s making those few minutes count.”
Kolb added that the partnership would benefit CFDA as well.
“It’s an opportunity for us to bring American designers here and give them exposure and opportunities here and also to represent American fashion overall in what is an important market to American designers,” he said.
Singapore Fashion Week runs from May 13 to 17. Thakoon and Victoria Beckham are participating this season. Dzojchen and Elohim will show May 14, and Ong Shunmugam will show May 15.