Here at So Catchy! we always have our eyes on the fashion sector and creative schools all over the world, looking for new talents that evoke different sensations. This time around, we’ve happened on the Singapore-based Max.Tan, whose label of the same name is based on the concept of gender neutrality.
After graduating with honors in 2006 from the prestigious Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Max presented his first collection at Singapore Fashion Week in 2007, where he took home second prize, helping him get his start. His career as a designer hasn’t stop moving forward since, surprising the field with each new collection. His latest work, XY, is a manifesto of the new ‘agender’ movement, an un-ending confluence of contradictions that doesn’t present the concept of just women in menswear or men in dresses. The XY collection reconstructs the boyfriend style as a way of neutralizing gender.
The inspiration for the collection is based on the concept of chromosomic determination of sex, with the X and Y chromosomes. ‘XY’ is genetically masculine, but also half of its genetic composition is feminine, from XX. It is an exploration and neutralization of traditional notions about men’s fashion and women’s clothes, creating a fuzzy boundary between genders based on fusion, deconstruction and reconstruction.
So Catchy!: When and why do you decide to be a fashion designer?
Max.Tan: I grew up under the influence of my mother who is a seamstress. I was exposed to pattern pieces, fabrics, etc; all the technical aspects, even before I knew what fashion was.
Growing up, as a teenager, I knew I wanted to do something creative but never quite figured out till I finally enrolled in a fashion school.
SC!: What is the leit motiv behind your creations?
MT: I love austere moods, deconstruction and reconstruction. As an Asian designer who is based in Asia, I’m constantly looking to incorporate geometric Asian drapery and details into a contemporary woman’s wardrobe.
SC!: How does your creative process work?
MT: I and my design team most often start off with a question. Through our creative process, we develop answers, or maybe even more questions.
For example, SS2010 was, how many ways can we reimagine the White shirt? FW2010-11 was, how many ways can we defy the traditional rules of tailoring? How do we challenge and come up with new ways to reconstruct wardrobe classics?
SC!: What do you think about fashion and technology?
MT: In a fast moving Internet age, fashion and technology are inevitably tied together. It changes what consumers demand which ultimately changes the way designers design, the way how businesses run.
SC!: Which Instagram accounts, magazines, or blogs do you follow religiously?
MT: I love raw, genuine Instagram accounts instead of the ones which look like a catalogue or too well put together. So, I love following the account of @antoniomarrasofficial. I love how the Instagram account takes us through the creative process of the designer himself!
SC!: Name some creative minds that you admire.
MT: Definitely the Japanese designers who took Paris by storm in the 80s with their highly intelligent and shapeless clothes. Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, and Issey Miyake. I love the emotional and textural Works of Antonio Marras, too.
SC!: Do you have any dreams yet to be fulfilled?
MT: I’m thankful for the opportunities that I have been blessed with so far in such a short span of my career. I have many unfulfilled dreams and ambitions, but for now, I prefer to take each day and challenge as a blessing!
Photography: Gavin Yeoh
Makeup: Elyn Khoo Makeup
Models: Luth Seah & Yihan Si
Wardrobe: Jacqueline Teo, Yuanyi
Styling: Max Tan assisted by Zhiying Yuan and Jason Ging
Studio Assistance: Xie Qian Qian, Dylan Chng
All the clothes are from MAX.TAN Fall/Winter & Spring/Summer 2015 and collection
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla