By Mandy Heng

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Images: Alif Brownstone Photography

Hair/makeup: Rie Miura

Styling: Mandy Heng

Model: Josie from Basic Models

Between dressing Singapore’s most stylish stars for the red carpet and adding the final touches to his 2015 collection for Ritz Carlton Singapore’s haute couture wedding show, highly coveted Singapore designer Vaughn Tan caught up with Mandy Heng for a chat on all things fashion.

Beautiful French lace, intricate beading and fluid hand draping are what comprise designer Vaughn Tan’s aesthetic. Vaughn, who has had no formal fashion training and was academically trained as a materials engineer at Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, can be counted on every season to produce nothing less than ethereal sophistication. This self-taught designer started out in 2005 and has since amassed 10 years of expertise, creating meticulously detailed bodices that reflect his passion for design.

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Q: Where were you born and raised?

 

I was born and raised in Malacca, Malaysia.  I completed my A-levels in Malaysia before pursuing a degree in Singapore. Growing up, I was blessed with an environment rich in culture that stimulated and cultivated my creative side.

 

Q: Which of the gowns that you have created is your favourite?

 

I do not have a specific name for this gown… But I do love it for how it has challenged me as a designer. The design of this particular gown required workmanship and skill, with no room for error. I enjoyed the difficulty faced while executing its creation, while at the same time maintaining a fine balance between structure and fluidity seen in the bodice and skirt. My team and I enjoyed the process and dare I say, we nailed it!

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Q: What inspired you to get into fashion?

 

Some of my aunts are seamstresses. I was heavily influenced by them when I started designing. Whilst being attached to my engineering industrial commitments at Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, I discovered my passion for creative arts and it grew from there.

 

Q: What type of struggles have you faced as a fashion designer?

 

My love for haute couture dresses means dedicating most, if not all of my time and energy into execution. The full concentration required means sacrificing personal time, thus I struggle with the work/life balance!

 

Q: What are your views on Singapore’s fashion scene?

 

We are spoilt for choice here in Singapore, especially with the big international brands that dominate the local market. At the same time, I have seen more young designers entering the market too. It is never easy as a local designer but through passion and perseverance, I think the fashion scene here has potential to grow stronger with vibrant local talent.

 

Q: What do you think makes a woman attractive?

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I believe attractiveness itself stems from a woman’s inner confidence. None of us are perfect; it is okay to be insecure from time to time. As a designer, I believe beauty is more than skin deep.

Q: Describe the Vaughn Tan woman.

 

The ‘Vaughn Tan’ woman’s beauty shines through her personality. The designs she wears complement her silhouette and character as an individual. A woman looks good because she is comfortable in her own skin and is comfortable with what she is wearing on top of that!

 

Q: If there were one piece of advice you could give to every woman, what would it be?

 

Don’t be a perfectionist! Nothing is perfect! Flaws are beautiful too. It all depends on how you look at it.

 

Q: What inspires your aesthetic and why do you think women respond to it?

 

The personalities of the many women I meet daily inspire me. Within their personality, I am able to envision designs that help bring out their best. Being able to pinpoint those aesthetics allows women to respond to my creations and the result is a harmonious blend of their style with mine.

 

Q: What is your favourite choice of fabric and why?

 

The personalities of the many women I meet daily inspire me. Within their personality, I am able to envision designs that help bring out their best. Being able to pinpoint those aesthetics allows women to respond to my creations and the result is a harmonious blend of their style with mine.

Q: What do you think is a woman’s most important accessory?

 

Shoes! The human eye is naturally trained to look from the head and trail down to the bottom. Good footwear does not necessarily mean the most expensive. A dress can easily be translated from casual to formal depending on your footwear – a classic sandal may say daytime beach while a peep toe pump says dinner function.

 

Q: What is the inspiration behind your next collection?

 

I am focusing on bridal wear for my next collection. The lace and detailing found in bridal wear is inspiring and I would like to introduce high fashion into my bridal range for the discerning market.

 

Q: How does that inspiration turn into reality? Are you hands on with your work?

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Yes, I personally work on fabric and trim selection, alongside sewing, hand detailing and pretty much everything else! All this hard work is what breathes life into my inspiration, turning it into a reality.

 

Q: What is next for you professionally?

 

I’d like to increase my proficiency in hand work, particularly beading. If there is anything the last decade has taught me, it’s that you can never stop learning.

 

Q: How would you describe your personal style?

 

I keep my personal style very simple with clean cut shirts and pants… and let all my creativity flow into my work!

 

 

 

 

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