Collection review: Ong Shunmugam cruise 2016

Collection review: Ong Shunmugam cruise 2016

Kitted out in kimonos

Text: Norman Tan

Image: Gerald Low

Departing from her trademark qipao, designer Priscilla Shunmugam applied her aesthetic sensibilities to the Japanese kimono

Priscilla Shunmugam started her cruise 2016 show at Singapore Fashion Week with personal musings flashed across the runway backdrop: 'Somewhere in the intersection of pain and relief lies choice' read one; 'There is no might stronger than the peace of a mind rested and full of grace' read another; and tellingly, 'Years pass, wounds heal, clarity emerges.'

Born out of a reflection on the former Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia, Shunmugam departed from her trademark qipao and based her collection on the kimono; reconstructing the garment through her unique visual language in an attempt to create something beautiful out of a difficult period.

What followed was a diverse re-imagination of the traditional Japanese silhouette, ranging from sleeveless jump suits nipped at the waist (an easy favourite given Shunmugam's familiar body-conscious aesthetic) to tri-fabric shifts detailed with a low-slung bow at the skirt hem (which, given the rest of the collection, felt rather amorphous at times).

The iconic kimono design elements remained — be it flared sleeves or obi-style belts bandaged securely around waists — and were fearlessly mixed and matched with different fabrications all sourced from Asia. But it was her final look that really hit home. Eschewing the bright print-blocking that marked the rest of the show, Shunmugam closed with a chic navy blue kimono modernised with truncated sleeves for practicality, but preserved the draping sleeve 'wings' for dramatic effect. Indeed, to quote Shunmugam, at the end of the show 'clarity emerges'.