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Tue, May 21, 2013
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Fabulous fashion but low on thrill
by Simran Panaech

Lanky models, pretty dresses, champagne, and stylish celebrities.

The fifth Audi Fashion Festival (AFF) held last week was almost guaranteed to be a full-on party.

Then why did this year's event seem a little on the unenthusiastic side?

The general vibe throughout the week was one of non-excitement.

There was a lack of buzz.

Some people I spoke to agreed with me.

Held at a bigger location this year, the 100m Tent, previously at 40m outside Ngee Ann City, was set up at the Marina Promenade.

Carolina Herrera opened the festival with a substantially-long show, but the atmosphere in the reception lounge was less excitable than last year's opening.

Thankfully, the atmosphere picked up at the after-party that night. The set-up was amazing:

Guests walked on a raised platform, just like a runway, into the venue, greeted by neon archways and bright visuals.

New York's DJ Jesse Marco played a fabulous array of music, and is great eye candy. However, the crowd seemed disconnected with more poseurs than party folks, despite some familiar faces.

One after-party I was really looking forward to was theWSingapore party, featuring rap artist Azealia Banks. She performed her hit song Harlem Shake and 212, which got the crowd dancing, jumping, and cheering.

But, once her performance ended, so did the crowd.

Almost everyone left and missed an amazing DJ set with stunning visuals by Kate Elmsworth. It was quite a pity as I had expected this to be the party for AFF, and was disappointed with the lack of party excess by guests.

Parties aside, the runway shows had their own entertainment value.

On day two, during Australian designer Collette Dinnigan's show, the audience seated in front of me started to whisper when one model walked out a little too slanted, with her upper body thrust out. Guests giggled like fashion-show virgins every time they thought a model walked a little too funny for their liking.

Then, later in the day at Desigual's show, a male and a female model lunged into a steamy kiss that lasted what seemed like five minutes.

Their little antic on stage roused the audience - most of whom were already tipsy - who started hooting and cheering. Not your typical fashion show, I must say.

But back to fashion: One collection that I'm looking forward to is Dubai-based Gisellablu's, which stocks here in the third quarter of this year.

As usual, home-grown labels received huge support from local celebrities, particularly Fann Wong, while other personalities and socialites arrived in droves at the Zardoze and Ashely Isham shows.

The closing show of Hussein Chalayan was a wrap-up to the steady mood of the week, while Blueprint had a much better vibe with the buzz of budding designers.

Altogether, AFF attracted an estimated 18,000 guests over the five days, up from last year's 12,000.

While guests did dress up, albeit over-dressing at times, the overall sentiment did not heighten like it used to. AFF director Tjin Lee summed it up nicely:"We want fashion to be inclusive and not to take itself too seriously sometimes."

Hear this fashionistas? You need to loosen up.Can't we all just get along and appreciate one another's dress sense, rather than sizing each other up?

As Ms Lee also said: "Fashion is to entertain as well."

Perhaps a little less aloofness will open up more excitement and fun. Good thing is, with the maturing of AFF, there can only be better days ahead.

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