In the second installment of our series on the 2013 finalists of Singapore-based regional fashion design competition Audi Star Creation, we meet Ham Yu Lan from Korea and Chatree Maneerat from Thailand.

Ham Yu Lan, 24
South Korea
Collection: The Beautiful Connection of Asia

Audi Star Creation 2013 finalists DECOR Ham Yu Lan

Yu Lan’s women’s wear collection is inspired by the traditional Korean knot, Norigae. When she chanced upon the knot on a wedding invitation in her father’s study room, she knew she had to base her collection on this cultural icon. Using threads traditionally used to make the Norigae – traditional Korean knot – Yu Lan keeps the knots simple and minimalistic. She incorporates pastel colours to reflect the vibrancy of the spring and summer, and predominantly uses cotton to create voluminous pieces. Yu Lan is currently in her last year as a fashion design student in Myeongji University.

Tell us more about yourself
My mother ran several shops selling women’s apparel and accessories while I was growing up, so my interest in fashion was piqued at a young age. I viewed it as a hobby though, and never took it too seriously. When I was choosing what to study in college, I went for chemistry because I had done well in it in high school, only to then find out that I lacked the aptitude for it. While in school, I took on some part-time jobs and it was then that I realised it was fashion I wanted to do. I then transferred to the Fashion Design faculty in Myeongji University in 2011, and will graduate in June.

What are the highlights of your collection?
‘The Beautiful Connection of Asia’ was based on the traditional Korean knot, Norigae, which is an important aspect of Korean culture and has been passed down for generations. It symbolises hope that Koreans have for their lives. I wanted to draw on the shape of completed knots, as well as the knots in different stages of completion. I also incorporated the threads traditionally used to tie the Norigae, pastels to capture the vibrancy of the season, and cotton to create volume. And despite the tradition captured by the knots, I also use modern lines, so the resultant look is more current.

What are your thoughts on Korea’s fashion industry?
Korea’s fashion industry is very business-minded, and while the designers are creative, a lot of attention is also paid to commercial viability, so what you get eventually is usually trendy and refined. It is perhaps that business-savviness that has helped Korean designers make their mark internationally. That, in turn, helps to raise awareness within the country. While our domestic market is small, more Koreans are starting to pay attention to and get interested in local fashion.

Having to do design work every day, you probably get stressed. What are your stress-busting techniques?
Chocolate, and blasting my stereo while I work. When it gets really tough, though, I go on walks. It helps to clear my mind.

Chatree Maneerat, 22
Thailand
Collection: The Beauty of Wind

Audi Star Creation 2013 finalists DECOR Chatree Maneerat

‘The Beauty of Wind’, a women’s wear collection, was inspired by the ubiquitous handheld wooden Chinese fan. Chatree was fascinated by the fan’s long history, which spans thousands of years, and its intricate structure, particularly that of the perforated version. Using a palette of predominantly black, white, nude and turquoise, he tries to capture the exquisite details of the fan through the use of prints, embroidery, layering techniques, and laser cutting. The third year student of fashion design at the Faculty of Decorative Arts in Silpakorn University hopes to draw on Asian arts and history in his collections, and feels it will help communicate Asia’s rich culture to the world.

Tell us more about yourself
I’ve wanted to be a designer for as long as I can remember. I found school a yawn but was captivated by fashion magazines, and I am grateful that I have a family that encouraged me to go in that direction. While I have taken part, and done well, in several fashion design competitions in Thailand, I knew I needed to try my hand at Audi Star Creation.

What are the highlights of your collection?
‘The Beauty of Wind’ was inspired by carved wooden Chinese fans which have stood the test of time in providing relief from the hot, tropical weather. These fans have come in an array of designs, colours and materials over the thousands of years they have been around, and I would like to capture their intricate details in this collection by using prints, layering techniques, embroidery, and laser cutting. I tried incorporating a balance of historical and futuristic elements, and used mainly black, white, nude and turquoise for the pieces.

What are your thoughts on Thailand’s fashion industry?
As a nation, Thailand is pretty open-minded when it comes to fashion, and people are usually accepting of bolder designs. The public is interested in local designers and fashion labels, and lend their support to both fast-fashion and niche brands. That support makes all the difference to the success of Thai brands. An increasing number of Thai designers are receiving recognition on the international stage and are starting to stock overseas. I am excited to be able to rank among them one day.

What are some personal thoughts of yours about fashion?
If there is one rule I stick to when designing, it is not to be swayed by current trends. I believe that fashion is not  simply about following the crowd and wearing the trendiest items. It is about wearing outfits that make you feel comfortable, yet confident and empowered. That’s real fashion.

Audi Star Creation 2013 will take place on May 13, 2013. It is part of Singapore’s Asia Fashion Exchange event. For more information, check out www.starcreation.sg; you can follow Audi Star Creation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StarCreationSG and on Twitter at @StarCreationSG. Stay tuned for more designer insights as we bring you the 12 finalists for Audi Star Creation 2013.