Discover the wonders of Asian fashion at the new Asian Civilisations Museum exhibition

Fashion may seem like an exclusively Western construct, but that’s simply not true. Here to shed light on the fashion and craftsmanship of Asian artisans is none other than the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), with its long-awaited Fashionable in Asia exhibition.

Showcasing the wonders of Asian fashion from the 18th to 20th century, the display offers more than 20 masterpieces recently acquired by ACM, to jazz up the permanent Fashion and Textiles Gallery.

Look forward to understanding trade and power through Asian fashion with displays comprising a variety of sections, outfits and designs.

Here, visitors can uncover the fascinating rise of Palembang songket, which flourished in response to the Dutch monopoly over imports of Indian textiles in the Palembang Sultanate, Sumatra during the 17th to 20th centuries.

, Discover the wonders of Asian fashion at the new Asian Civilisations Museum exhibition
Credit: Asian Civilisations Museum

Museum-goers will also be able to get a firsthand look at lavish outfits worn by royalty and wealthy people of Thailand, Japan, and Indonesia. These include an elaborately decorated kosode (the predecessor of the modern kimono), as well as a sua khrui, a gold-embroidered Thai ceremonial robe that was given to the Danish Admiral Andreas du Plessis de Richelieu by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) of Siam (present-day Thailand).

Not only are these garments designed with symbolic motifs that define hierarchy within culture, but the outfits also highlight purposeful and extravagant designs that utilise local elements to differentiate wearers.

Hyperlocal Southeast Asian fashion identities are not to be forgotten as well, and charting the rise and evolution of the Javanese batik is the exhibition sections Batik Resistance and Creativity on the Pesisir. Together they compare the traditional motifs once reserved for the central Javanese courts with the reimaginations by Go Tik Swan’s contemporary “Batik Indonesia” and even the expressive batiks made on the Pesisir—the North coast of Java.

The various functions of fashion in Asian societies are not typically seen or adressed in Singapore, so to get a meaningful and exclusive look at how style and design have truly played a part in Asian culture, just check out the Fashionable in Asia showcase at ACM.

More information available here.