Why Not? Works: Lydia Kok on Fashion, Originality and Zines

What is ‘fashion’ to a Singaporean?

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All about creating original works, Lydia Kok channels her personality and creativity into as many avenues as she can, while keeping to a philosophy she holds close to her heart.

Producing ordinary work that is true to yourself is far more important. Ideas don’t always have to be exceptional or extraordinary for them to be shared in the creative industry.

Exhibiting this Saturday for Why Not? at The Substation alongside five other graduate designers, Lydia’s collection features dystopia with regard to the increasing advancement of technology. She personally is not a big fan of fast fashion, and you can expect a retro-futuristic style that questions how technology has altered or influenced people’s emotional and social needs.

Choosing asymmetry over symmetry any day, Lydia shares with us how her illustrations and fashion designing go hand-in-hand, and if fashion designers will always have a place in this world if Artificial Intelligence is expected to take over the world.

How does your illustrations and fashion design influence or inspire each other?

My fashion design collection pinpoints the urgencies of our time.

I’m really drawn to post-human debates. I like to push boundaries in my work with the making process and conceptualising. The presentation inspires people to manifest ideas, creating imaginative links to parts of ourselves that are otherwise inaccessible.

On the other hand, my watercolour illustrations are fun and lighthearted. They encourage people to develop a personal hobby. I like to paint portraits of different facial expressions, food from my travels and interesting fabric textures, emphasising details and highlighting the small personal joys in life.

Zine creators to look out for:

One of my favourite zines is called the Mushpit. It’s known for its satirical wit and it definitely pushes the boundaries of what a print publication should be.

Fashion icons:

Leandra Medine Cohen — she encourages buffet dressing and I love her wit.

What do you think your personal style is — that may or may not span the multi-disciplines of your work?

It’s hard to articulate a personal style, but I am drawn to an eclectic mix of modern prints and vintage clothing details. There will always be a certain pop of colour or statement in my works and the way I dress. In essence, my style is grandma meets chic.

Go-to outfit:

A statement outerwear, wide-legged pants and loafers. The insides don’t matter!

Favourite fashion brand:

I like fashion brands that brokeass students like myself can’t afford! Lol. If I had all the monies in the world, I would love to buy from Peter Do, with Phoebe Philo Céline aesthetics.

In your opinion, what makes something art or design? Is there anything specific you look out for?

I believe that art and design portray a message, an intent and the execution. Across the multi-disciplines of my work, I always look to create something that resonates with the audience. A concept that prompts new ways of thinking and asking yourself questions.

What is one misunderstanding Singaporeans may have about fashion?

Fashion should be something fun to explore, and there is no formula on how one should dress to ‘look good’.

Singaporeans turn to fashion with the obligation to look presentable for others in our society, neglecting the personal joy of dressing up purely for themselves.

The local fashion industry is blindly followed and heavily driven commercially. We should have our own fashion sense and style, and dress however we want. Most importantly, have fun and feel confident in the process.

With the advance of technology and Artificial Intelligence, do you think there will always be a place for fashion designers?

Yes, definitely. The advancement of technology allows fashion designers to break out of the fashion cycle and create innovative designs, both artistically and commercially. Fashion designers can seek to collaborate with multi-disciplines, be it engineers or computer scientists. It’s a new and exciting phase for the fashion industry to venture — the possibilities are limitless.

What more do you want to see in Singapore’s fashion industry?

I would like to see more local independent designers create avant-garde pieces, embracing fashion as an art form. Sometimes, incredible and impactful things don’t have be practical. I would love to see more fashion exhibitions in the local art museums as well!

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