The New Romantics

Stray
For a collection that draws inspiration from David Bowie’s character in the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth, Aussie rocker Nick Cave’s performance from Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire, and actor Michael Pare’s Tom Cody character in Streets of Fire, Stray has certainly got it made. The main silhouette of the collection is a figure accentuated by elements of red and tailored cuts (see picture). One signature design in the collection is sharp pointy lines on the back of shirts and jackets—an evocation of characters that are “unconventional and quiet,” says its designer and founder Arthur Chua. “The designs are made for conflicted heroes … individuals who are gentlemanly, yet rebellious in every sense.”
Consisting of well conceptualized ready to wear pieces that include shirts, tops, elaborate jackets, vests and pants, the collection, which recently debuted at the Wardrobe show at Zouk, is made for men in the know.
The multitalented Chua is an art director by day, and has dabbled in many art exhibitions, commercials and film. His fashion collection is an extension of his work philosophy. Chua further explains: “Fashion is just an extension of what I do as Stray, also the name of my creative agency. The basic idea of Stray is my belief in venturing (hence straying) into all areas of creativity that interest me, including architecture, product design, installation, music, film, philosophy, science etc. Thus fashion is just one aspect of it all.”
But for now, it seems that Stray, the fashion collection, is here to stay. Some of the best and outstanding pieces include jackets with hand pressed metal studs, cropped pinstripe bolero jackets, and long hooded coats. Prices range from $599 to $899 for these conceptual pieces, most of them one-offs. “I don’t confine my target customers to any particular age group as much as I don’t believe in categorizing anyone. As long as that person appreciates my clothes, it’s a good enough reason to wear them,” adds Chua.
Stray is available from end July at White Room, 37 Haji Lane, 6297-1280. Or email arthur@stray.com.sg for more info.
Murder
Try not to kill yourselves over these babies. A much sought after collection between Stray’s Arthur Chua, FruFru & Tigerlily’s Ginette Chittick (who also plays in the rock band Astreal) and local music producer Muon a.k.a. Nick Chan, the fashion label Murder is here to rock with its unconventional approach to fashion. Murder’s main collection is not just the clothes, but an entire package that comes with a CD featuring music conjured by Muon. “The music is inspired by the imagery of the clothes, much like a soundtrack that completes a movie,” says Chittick.
The clothes, consisting of pieces for both men and women, also premiered at the Wardrobe show. One of its key menswear pieces is the black jeans that come with gold embroidered “Flying V and Explorer” guitar motifs, a la cult British fashion label Maharishi. For the girls, it’s the black dresses that come replete with electric red lightning motifs. This is essential fashion wear for wannabe rockers.
Asked how the idea for Murder came about, Chittick explains: “It just hit me in bed one morning when I was thinking about the relationship between music and imagery, and how both elements are so entwined and are such integral parts of each other. And as a fashion designer and musician, I wanted a label that would come with its own soundtrack, sort of like how a movie is incomplete without a proper soundtrack. Our clothes are part of that missing equation.”
Priced at $180-300, the collection, which plays on darker colors such as black, red and grey; and more angular cuts, is commendable for its eccentricity. “Aesthetically, it’s just pleasing and nothing sunshiny about it,” adds Chittick. “To fully understand the mood, one would have to wear and hear it.”

Murder is available from end July at White Room, 37 Haji Lane, 6297-1280. Or email blackmail@frufru.net for more info.
Black Parasol
More darkness looms out from relatively unheard of fashion label Black Parasol. Although founders Ha Xiaoyun, Li Wenhui, Rhiannon Xiao and Shen Zhaoru have been selling their clothes annually at the Singapore Street Festival, only in January this year did the foursome launch the website www.blackparasol.com to retail their clothes online.
This self professed “alternative” fashion label mixes influences from gothic Lolita and punk fashions into individualized garments and accessories that are handmade by the four designers. “Ever since we launched the website, we’ve even had orders from the US,” says Ha. Some of the most outstanding pieces in the collection include the Peppermint Rose Headdress (US$22), made from black cotton, and trimmings such as black vinyl, satin ribbons and black netting, and the Decorum Choker (US$20), made from pearls, lace and a pendant.
“Usually we will meet to brainstorm the designs together, draft them, and then stitch and put them together,” explains Ha. “We try not to go OTT with the designs as the local market can’t really accept it. Given that Singaporeans are not very experimental with their clothing and styles, and are still unfamiliar with the gothic Lolita subculture (which originated from Japan), the items that we design are toned down. Still, it must still be aesthetically pleasing to the layman and still acceptable by people who are familiar with Lolita culture.”
Black Parasol is available from www.blackparasol.com.
See You Tomorrow
See You Tomorrow is an antithesis of a brand, tagged as “a signifier of greater hope, a minimalist and flea mart clash,” or so it claims. More playful than minimalist, this quirky collection by Aiwei Foo, a Sarawak native, is a breath of fresh air among the staple of darker collections featured here. Although it has been around for almost a year, making its presence felt in numerous art and book fairs, namely in Tokyo, the collection is finally available locally at hip lifestyle store Asylum.
“The reception to my works is usually that it’s happy,” says Foo with a chuckle. “That’s because on a personal level, I’m optimistic about tomorrow, and I believe that there is still hope out there.” We are also hopeful about Foo’s colorful collection making a splash here. We especially like her Accidental Bags, made from recycled materials found at Salvation Army and flea markets, that are reminiscent of the popular Freitag bags from multilabel boutique Actually… And at $120, they are more affordable too.
“I saw these materials at the Salvation Army, and was just so fascinated with them, and decided to use them for sewing and see how they turned out.” Little did Foo know that they will eventually become very trendy, one-off ladies handbags that are as lovable as they are innovative. “I also like to play with small little pieces of fabric,” she adds. The result: Accessories and necklaces ($60-90) that also pose as works of art that wouldn’t look out of place on the catwalks.
See You Tomorrow is available from Asylum, 22 Ann Siang Rd., 6324-2289.