Only a few years old, Singapore fashion label Zardozë has grown in leaps and bounds, and with the addition of a new creative director, John Paul Rangel, and senior designer Chen Zhigang, the brand looks set to expand even more quickly.

Zardoze new designers DESIGNERS
Designers John Paul Rangel (above left) and Chen Zhigang (above right) have joined Singapore fashion label Zardozë as creative director and senior designer respectively. Image: Zardozë

Originally set up to act as a vehicle for labour-intensive, embellishment work – the brand’s name is derived from an ancient form of gold embroidery – Zardozë now produces a fashion-friendly ready-to-wear line alongside its bespoke and semi-bespoke “high fashion” range. The brand is known for its feminine, soft shapes brightened up by embellishment that ranges from subtle to all-out bling, and has fans from as far away as Russia.

The new designers join an already substantial team made up of senior designer Singapore’s Reina Looi, and two junior designers Raffi Ramlan, also from Singapore, and Truong Bao Viet from Vietnam. The addition of New Yorker Rangel and Chinese national Chen, makes the design team truly international, but with a uniquely Asian focus.

Zardoze new designers DECOR
Looks from the Zardozë ready-to-wear Holiday 2012-13 collection. Images: Zardozë

Graduating from Parsons, The New School for Design in New York, Rangel has already clocked up an impressive resume at international fashion labels like Michael Kors, Narcisco Rodriguez, Max Mara, Alexander Wang and Marc by Marc Jacobs. He was also a finalist for the Parsons Designer of the Year 2011.

Singapore fashionistas will likely recognise Chen – better known as Del – from his wins at the 2011 Audi Star Creation competition, where he won both the Audi Creative Star award as well as being one of the four overall Audi Star Creation 2011 winners. Chen will head up Zardozë’s high-end bespoke Panthea collection.

We chatted to the two new designers about their plans for the brand …

How would you describe Zardozë as a brand?
JP: Zardozë is a brand that is modern, classy, feminine, glamorous and sophisticated yet sensual. It aims to make women beautiful at any hour of any day. It is a brand that offers clothes that will make every woman of any shape beautiful. Zardozë is an ever-changing brand – like the woman that we design for.

DEL: Zardozë is a unique brand that focuses on aesthetics and artistic creation. Beauty is the core of the brand, not just an element. The brand borrows inspiration from the grandeur of Persian culture and blends modern silhouettes with elegant hand-craft embellishments. We aim to make every woman feel beautiful when they are wearing Zardozë.

Is it difficult to design as a team? How do you work together? ie. is one in charge of colour; the other cut or similar?
JP: There are two labels under the Zardozë brand, the ready-to-wear line and the Panthea line – Panthea is the high fashion, dramatic and dressier sister. Being the Creative Director, I am responsible for the company’s overall image including all advertising, corporate art direction, store design and visuals as well as the design of all Zardozë collections and product lines.

Del and I work together closely to achieve our visions on how the Panthea line should be. I set the direction for his seasonal collections and from there he creates his designs. We edit the designs together to make a cohesive and balanced collection.

We work like brothers – assisting each other to create interesting and innovative concepts, designs and clothes but fight like archenemies when we have ideas that collide, but it is in this collision that something more beautiful comes out of the creative process. We move forward in the faith that our brand and collections become better every season/collection.

DEL: Everyone has a different role to play, as a team, it is unavoidable to have disagreement but ultimately our end goal is the same – to create a sophisticated, world-class brand. As the main designer of Panthea, I start every collection by translating JP’s direction and create the designs based on the inspiration, working closely with JP editing the designs together. We share the same vision for the brand, respect each other, but work differently to create something beautiful and interesting.

What are your plans for moving the brand forward? Do you have a specific goal for the brand?
JP: Fashion is all about the future. We look forward to making this brand a world-class label that answers to the need of women to be beautiful, satisfied and happy whether at work or at play, everyday. While the brand is Singapore-based, our designs have launched in both the Malaysian and Indonesian markets. With our recent participation in the prestigious HKTDC World Boutique Trade Show, there is definitely a goal to further our expansion to the rest of the world and bring our designs to an international clientele.

DEL: We are at the start of a long journey; the challenge is to integrate refined high-quality craftsmanship with creative designs to create a new and different image for the Zardozë woman every season, creating beautiful but not overwhelming pieces. My vision for the brand is that ultimately every woman, all around the world, will own or want to own a Zardozë piece.

What’s your opinion on the rise of Asian fashion brands in the global fashion market? Will you identify Zardozë as an Asian fashion label?
JP: Asian fashion brands entering the global fashion market is definitely an exciting trend in the industry landscape. It creates for a bigger platform for all of us to participate in to showcase not only our products but our creativity as well.

Zardozë is an Asian fashion label that aims to take part in this. Right now, we are focusing on the Asian markets then soon the world. We want to root ourselves deeply in Asia and then expand from there. At the moment we have a very culturally diverse design team mainly from Asia but with very strong international backgrounds which gives our brand a very unique DNA and sets us apart.

DEL: Fashion brands from Asia have a strong unique individual personality, it is diverse and yet ever evolving. Asia is transforming into a regional and international hub, gaining momentum, Zardozë aims to grow with this market, and at the same time tapping and entering the international market, and be recognized in the global fashion scene.

Zardozë is available in Singapore from Robinsons, The Centrepoint #05-05, 176 Orchard Road 238843 Open: 10.30am-10pm daily; Robinsons, The Shoppes Marina Bay Sands #B2-09 Canal Level 018972, Open: Monday-Thursday & Sunday 10am-11pm, Friday & Saturday 10am-12midnight. The Zardozë Panthea bespoke collection is available from 21 Club Street #02-12 (Above Senso), Singapore 069410 Tel: 6423 9026. For an appointment, contact 6423 9026 or ysabel@zardoze.com; closed on Sundays. For more information about Zardozë, go to www.zardoze.com, or check out its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/zardoze.