From The Straits Times    |

The invite promised a night of glamour and high fashion and even though it stated the event would start promptly at 7pm, guests who were decked out in their finest couture gowns were still streaming through the doors 30 minutes later.

No one seemed perturbed in the slightest though, as there was plenty of champagne and mini canapés going around. Even when guests were called to make their way to dinner, most took their time to stroll slowly to the dining hall, champagne flutes in hand – such was the mood in the air at the Women’s Fashion Week Opening Gala Dinner on October 26.

Celebrities like Pierre Png and Andrea de Cruz, Mark Richmond and Beatrice Chia, Fann Wong, Patricia Mok and Jade Seah all turned up, but the spotlight was turned towards the host of the night, ex-model Sonia Couling, who was resplendent in Dior.

More stunning than anything else though, was how the convention space had been converted into a Parisian garden at night, with glittering trees lining the center aisle that led right up to the Renaissance-style grand staircase right at the very front of the hall.

The highlight of the swanky night came right after the main course, when three local designers Thomas Wee, Ashley Isham and Frederick Lee showed their couture collections to the 400-strong crowd.

Thomas Wee, true to form, showed a wonderfully refined and elegant black-and-white couture collection that played on texture and proportion, showing at times a sleek silk pantsuit, and other times a voluminous dress in organza.

Ashley Isham put forth his unique vision of summer paradise amongst Grecian goddesses, as his couture collection was vibrant with rich jewel tones – think teal, purple, fuchsia, royal blue and yellow. Even though the gowns were simple, the drama was heightened with the elaborate floral headpieces that the models donned.

Frederick Lee however, was clearly the show-stopper of the night. When his incredibly detailed and intricate, almost theatrical gowns came down the runway, they were met with loud cheers and applause from the crowd. From a fully-feathered number to the finale dress, a white frothy concoction that seemed to float down the runway, it was undoubtedly a spectacle to behold. Truly, there’s something to be said for a fashion industry veteran after all.

Haute Couture Week officially kicks off on October 27 with Maxime Simoens at 7pm and Gustavo Lin at 9pm at Marina Bay Sands. Go to for details.