“Wardrobe malfunctions happen all the time”: Daniel Boey, fashion director for A Singaporean in Paris

When you put a Singaporean and a Parisian in the same room, what conversation would you get?
It would probably revolve around shopping, the best places to eat and the best bargains!

Can Singaporeans pull off Parisian fashion?
Paris is known as the center of fashion, and rightly deserves its reputation, being the birthplace for many stylish trends and groundbreaking ideas. Anyone, regardless of where they come from, can carry off these styles with the right sensibility and carriage. Singaporeans today are exposed to so many different influences and have a certain sense of boldness in putting their clothes together, and I have seen many who have embraced these trends, but have added their own touch to it to create their own unique look.

What were some of the unorthodox methods you used in sourcing costumes for this musical?
I delved deep into the backgrounds of the characters, and came up with signature silhouettes for each actor, drawing up a list of imagined places in which they shopped and their favorite designers. I cross-referenced these looks with the signature styles of certain Asian and Singapore designers, and enlisted their help in putting the wardrobe together. My team and I worked to source for contemporary pieces inspired by classic French looks, inspired by the likes of early-day Sonia Rykiel, Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana for the show. Whatever we couldn’t find, we created from scratch. I also dug deep into my own fashion archive for vintage pieces from iconic French labels like junior Gaultier and Agnes B, to dress certain members of the cast.

What about wardrobe malfunctions on stage? Any contingency plans for that?
Wardrobe malfunctions happen all the time, both on and off-stage. I am lucky to be working with an extremely experienced cast, who would take each malfunction, if and when it happens and react naturally in character without disrupting the flow of the show. That’s pure acting skill at its finest.

If you were tasked to design a uniquely Singaporean costume, what would it look like?
A country’s national costume is something that’s organic, evolving from its culture and lifestyle. It cannot be manufactured, or dictated. To me, one of the many things that are unique to us is the Peranakan culture, which is only found in Singapore, Malacca and Penang. If I was forced at gunpoint to design a national costume, it would probably be an attempt to juxtapose elements of the Peranakan roots into a contemporary setting. Think voluminous robes worn over a sexy figure hugging sarong kebaya-inspired top and a sleek sarong, dripping in jewelry, topped with a dramatic headdress and ending off with an amazing pair of bespoke beaded heels!

Witness all of Daniel Boey’s costumes come to life in A Singaporean In Paris. Mar 11-23, 8pm at The School of the Arts Drama Centre. Tickets at $40-50 from Sistic.