Singapore fashion label Arc was launched in 2012 by Islean Valath and quickly established itself as a go-to brand for women who wanted to look modern and minimal but still sexy. The first collection featured an interesting new take on Asian traditional shapes but the focus was on body-con dressing with a professional twist – sexy but not slutty.
For her Autumn Winter 2014-15 collection, Valath has continue to refine this aesthetic while also building out more structured looks that are less body focused and more relaxed; there’s a bit of a softer feel as well with the addition of a print and the use of textured fabrics like tweed.
Apparently the collection’s inspiration came from Joan of Arc: “Her girlish femininity juxtaposed with fierce achievement in the male dominated arena of making war and battle has ignited my imagination and tantalised my love for story-telling through clothes,” says designer Valath. Well … yes, but really who cares. What’s more important is how wearable the range is.
If you’re look for subtly sexy gear for day-into-night wear there are some great pieces that are covering all the latest trends, including the crop-top and cut-out-midriff-baring that are everywhere at the moment. If you’re wary of baring your abs to the world, check out our story on how to get the look in our The grown up guide to wearing crop tops.
OUR 5 FAVOURITE LOOKS
1. The modern minimal dress
This dress with it’s extended shoulder cap sleeves, fitted body and mermaid skirt is feminine but minimal at the same time. We love the contrast trim in white on the rich blue – a very on-trend colour for the season. Wear with cute white sneaker during the day, then vamp it up with a stacked heel or platform strappy sandal for night.
2. The terrific tweed two-piece
The use of tweed on this sexy mermaid skirt makes it perfectly office appropriate but still feminine; the tucked in printed shirt is a work of art; the rolled contrast collar on the wrap-over v-neck and the structured volume in the sleeves gives it a vaguely oriental feel without being obvious. The volume in the top balances out the tight skirt too, keeping the look elegant. Go for a platform pump in chrome silver to add a touch of shine to this look.
3. The damn sexy dress
What can we say? If you’ve got it, flaunt it. This look is a signature one for both the brand and the designer herself (Islean is known for her stunning body). The cross-over, peek-a-boo top half complements the longer, fitted skirt by keeping the balance – the old adage “boobs or legs, not both” works well here. Oh, and it’s in leather which adds a whole other rock ‘n’ roll vibe to the dress. Obviously you can add a pair of spike heels if you want to up the vamp factor; or wear with a pair of manish flats to tone down the sexy vibe.
4. The sci-fi secretary
The shiny fabrics and minimal lines of these two pieces come together to create a sort of sci-fi secretary look that’s surprisingly wearable. The mermaid skirt in black is a fantastic wardrobe piece that you can wear with everything from a logo tee to a starched white shirt – a great updated basic. The top is a bit more fashion-forward but can also be worn as a cute jacket over a tee or tank top for the office which makes it super versatile.
5. For the fearless fashionista
Have you got a banging body? Are you a fan of runway trends and Rihanna? This is the look for you. The combination of the on-trend super-high cropped and cut-away bra-top with the longer skirt just about holds to the rule of “don’t show everything”, mostly anyway, but if you’ve got a great bod, then just go for it. The boxy, loose jacket in tweed tones down the dominatrix vibe and works really well as a cover-up while you’re out and about. This is definitely a look for the fearless fashionista.
The entire Arc Autumn Winter 2014 collection, while following on from similar themes, has become a little more refined overall. There is still a slightly schizophrenic nature to label with the mix of down-right sexy and more reserved boxy; and there remain some really weird proportions in the cuts of some of the garments.
I’m not convinced by the culottes – on-trend but the proportions and fabric seem all wrong in the metallic version; they’re way too shiny to be that wide and I suspect they’ll be wildly unflattering on shorter women. The poloneck “under top” in lilac (?) is just ugly and detracts rather than adds anything to the looks it’s worn with; likewise the tunic-tee-micro-mini-dress … what IS this supposed to be?
But there are some other great pieces, including a cute colour-blocked dress and sleeveless top with a wide white yoke. And our five favourite pieces would be great additions to most Singapore women’s wardrobes.
The Arc Autumn Winter 2014 collection is priced from $120 to $350 and is available from What Women Want in Mandarin Gallery; My-thology Boutique at Club Street and Threadbare & Squirrel on North Bridge Road or make an appointment at the Arc Showroom, 8 Emerald Hill, by emailing email@example.com. Go to arcival.com for more information; you can follow the brand on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ARClabel and on Instagram at @arclabel.