What started out as an effort to make high fashion more affordable in Singapore is now a brand that’s redefining feminine ready-to-wear and appearing at this year’s Paris Fashion Week. In the whirlwind that was PFW, we caught up with Whole9Yards designer, Daniel Ngoo, and got the scoop on his new collection, femininity, and design inspirations.
Can you tell us a little bit about the collection?
Daniel Ngoo: This Spring/Summer ’16 collection is actually inspired by this Victorian biologist, Marianne North. She was the first female biologist who travelled around the world. She was born in 1830.Back in that time, she didn’t have access to a camera and she was the only biologist who travelled around the world and hand-sketched every single species of flower. She studied flowers. So for this collection, you’re able to see some hand-sketched, flower prints, and motifs. I separated [the collection] into three parts. The first part is where you can see the color will be a little bit muted and dark. For example, I used a lot of black and white, and navy and gray. I want to tell the story of her early life; she was a little bit more grounded and young. The second part is where you’re able to see the colorful prints and rose fabrics coming into the collection. I want to tell the story of when she travelled around the world and she saw colorful stuff. The last part is something more elegant and lacy because, after she travelled around the world, she came back to London. And most of her artwork was exhibited at this place called Royal Kew Gardens. It’s a very nice botanical garden. So at the last part of the collection, you’re able to see the combination between architecture and florals. I actually used different kinds of laces and reconstructed them into the patterns that I wanted.
What was it about Marianne North that inspired you?
Daniel Ngoo: I always get inspired by people from the past, historical figures. And also, from flowers, like flora and fauna, because my dad owns a plantation. He supplies plants, trees, and flowers, so I’ve actually been exposed to nature and flowers since I was young.
The collection is very feminine, but it also has some structured and stronger elements to it. Why do you think it’s important to have strength and femininity together?
Daniel Ngoo: I believe that feminine has different definitions, because some girls might be feminine, but they are a little bit cocky. And some, they are feminine, but they are a little bit avant-garde. But for us, I would like to have this girl, she is feminine, but she’s a little bit cool. Like most of our dresses, they are not very dainty-looking. So for example, I’ll probably pair the lace dress with slippers or sneakers. So I’d like to add a little bit of coolness. And for the fabric selection, I always try to go to something much cooler, like a special finish or something like that.
If you could give one piece of advice to college women, what would it be?
Daniel Ngoo: I think you need to have self-confidence because, nowadays, many women are affected by social media too much. They don’t have as much self-esteem anymore. Because for example, they will say, “I need to look like Nicole Kidman, and then I will be pretty.” They are no longer trusting in themselves. You look pretty no matter who you are. You are unique by yourself. Do not be too affected by social media platforms.
Check out the full collection on Whole9Yards official website.