The day we all wear our patriotism on our sleeve is over; the various vendors are packing up the stage at the National Stadium, thousands of NS men and performers breathe a sigh of relief and pat each other on the back after months of rehearsals and everyone enjoyed the National Day Parade at its former home. We may have expressed our love (or disdain) for Singapore in one way or another on social media, but Singaporean fashion photographer Jayden Tan might have just upstaged everyone with his “Char Bor” photo series.
Taking visual cues from the beautiful portraits shot by Dutch photographer Hendrik Kersten and the 17th century Johannes Vermeer painting Girl with a Pearl Earring, the photos feature a woman wearing everyday Singaporean items as couture headpieces—we’re talking packets of chilli padi with vinegar, “Good Morning” towels and more—paired with outfits that are familiar to us, like the Singapore Girl kebaya and the Army t-shirt. The photos were shot in front of a typical cluster of HDB mailboxes.
“I wanted to capture the essence of being Singaporean, and merge it with what I love doing best—fashion photography—to celebrate the occasion,” Tan said. “So with the help of my friend Izwan Abdullah, we used items that are very familiar to us, and are intimately very Singaporean, to create this series.”
More from “Char Bor” below.
“Char Bor with two Chilli Packets” by Jayden Tan
“Char Bor with the Dapao Ponytails” by Jayden Tan
“Char Bor with a Plastic Bag” by Jayden Tan
“Char Bor with a Raffia Turban” by Jayden Tan
“Char Bor with the Feather Dusters” by Jayden Tan