Danelle Woo has been quietly running her frilly Aijek label to enviable success. Regardless of where the line is carried, from the now-defunct Mporium to Tangs, her most visible stockist, Aijek has chalked up top sales, and has been enjoying a large following of customers who look at the clothes uncritically. On the sales floor, that is understandable: you see, you buy. But once the garments are shifted to a runaway, they attract far more intense scrutiny. Clothes on hangers can get away with many things, on models working a catwalk, it’s harder—a lot harder.
For her Singapore Fashion Week show yesterday, Ms Woo broke no new ground. Perhaps that isn’t imperative. Once you’ve built your line on a formula—essentially producing what’s already the rage and seen in the marketplace, you can bore your audience to tears, and people will say that you’re staying true to your signature. Aijek is easy to wear and easy to love. The thing with anything this easy, is that you may just as easily tire of them.
How many dainty rompers does a woman’s wardrobe require? Or, for that matter, cold-shoulder tops that look suspiciously like those you saw in Forever 21, just yesterday? Or lace dresses that will be picked up by a bride-to-be for her bridesmaid? There’s a pattern-book approach to assembling the collection: every conceivable neckline, sleeve or skirt length and shape, all manner of tactile properties in fabrics were given a fighting chance. (Interestingly, of the 35 looks Ms Woo presented, there was only one pair of pants.) This is a merchandiser’s way of pulling together a line rather than a designer’s: more, more, more; repeat, repeat, repeat.
An inductee of this year’s Fashion Futures (so too are Max Tan and Stolen’s Elyn Wong), Ms Woo basically offers the kind of ultra-fem clothes that straightforwardly qualify for webzine listicles: “10 outfits you’ll wear non-stop”, “20 maxi-dresses to buy for a BFF gathering”, “30 bustier numbers to stunt colleagues at the annual D&D”, “50 items your boyfriend absolutely hates”. It’s all well and fine, of course, but do these clothes deserve to be put on a runway?
Singapore Fashion Week 2016 is staged at the National Gallery from 26 to 30 Oct