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Kavita Thulasidas on winning Singapore Stories 2022

Themed “Fashion United”, the Singapore Stories 2022 finale saw five local fashion designers debut six looks that honor our diverse cultural fabric in Asian Civilizations Museum. The annual fashion design competition organized by the Singapore Fashion Council involved an eight-month mentoring process and its theme aims to position Singapore as an innovative and multicultural fashion hub in Southeast Asia.

As for the winner who went home with the grand prize? Kavita Thulasidas, creative director of Indian fashion store Stylemart. Her winning collection, “Heritage Reinterpreted and Beyond,” is dedicated to our immigrant ancestors who worked hard to make Singapore the country it is today.

The designer’s line features a fusion of contemporary silhouettes and elements from the region’s indigenous cultures, showcasing intricate embroidery techniques that are rapidly disappearing today. by Thulasidas ready-to-wear collection is now available for purchase at Design Orchard through November 9, 2022. In 2023, she will showcase her work at Asian Civilizations Museum and made its debut on the world stage during Paris fashion week.

Kavita Thulasidas with her winning collection, “Heritage Reinterpreted & Beyond”.

Courtesy of the Fashion Council of Singapore

Sharing why Thulasidas stood out in the competition, the museum director Kennie Ting says, “Kavita’s collection speaks to the essence of the stories we tell at the Asian Civilizations Museum. Each design pays homage to Singapore as a cosmopolitan port city, deeply rooted in our shared East-West heritage, especially its red crane dress inspired by a bodhisattva Tang Dynasty sculpture in our collections.

Ting also adds that he hopes the museum’s collection, a “bottomless pit of a resource,” will become a place where local designers can find inspiration and deepen their knowledge of Asian history and its interactions with the West.

To celebrate Thulasidas’ victory, we meet the designer about her Stories from Singapore trip and her hopes for the future of local fashion.

The first look from Kavita Thulasidas’ winning collection.

Courtesy of the Fashion Council of Singapore

Congratulations on winning Singapore Stories 2022, Kavita. How do you feel?
I am very proud to have won after this long run. I’m at a stage in my life where I’m looking at what’s the next big leap for me and I see myself as the crane of my collection, ready to take off. I’m really excited and full of gratitude.

What was the inspiration behind your Singapore Stories collection?
The collection incorporates various skills indigenous to South Asian regions, such as Parsi embroidery that traveled from China to India, and textiles such as woven silk brocades with over 400 years of history. Asian. The finalists had the chance to work with the Asian Civilizations Museum and we had access to the national archives. During a tour of the museum’s special pieces, I was inspired by a Peranakan wall hanging. It had symbolic flower details like peonies and lotuses as well as auspicious birds. I resonate with the motif of cranes, so I wanted to feature it constantly in my collection.

Crane motifs appear throughout Kavita Thulasidas’ “Heritage Reinterpreted & Beyond”

Courtesy of the Fashion Council of Singapore

What does the crane symbol mean to you?
The crane is a very important symbol in East Asian art and it is also a bird that signifies longevity. For me, it’s the crane that encapsulates the idea of ​​taking a leap of faith in life and where we’re moving forward. I think it is also related to Singapore. We are a small nation but when the lion roars, the world listens.

What impact has Singapore Stories had on you as a designer?
Being part of this competition was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our traditions, our roots and our collective values. I am proud of our rich and diverse experience. With this award, I feel encouraged to continue creating designs that tell our stories from Singapore to the world and pass on our craft tradition to the next generation.

Kavita Thulasidas’ designs feature intricate embroidery techniques and contemporary silhouettes.

Courtesy of the Fashion Council of Singapore

Finally, what does Singaporean fashion mean to you?
For me, fashion in Singapore is exciting because we have a diversity of cultures. We bring a lot of color and vibrancy to the world. One of my biggest inspirations is Guo Pei and I think we can learn from his example. She makes no apologies for her Chinese traditions and values ​​and incorporates them into her designs. If we take this approach, we can make the world fall in love with Asia.

Hazel J. Edmonds

The author Hazel J. Edmonds