Harper's BAZAAR Asia New Generation Fashion Designer Award : DIARY

Ashley Mak Photography

Ashley Mak Photography

I have not been writing for a long time, but in the celebration of the 3rd edition of Harper's BAZAAR Asia New Generation Fashion Designer Award 2016, I would like to take part in encouraging aspiring designers or graduates to join the competition. 

*Background of the story : The period of the competition was in conjunction with my final year at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and I was a 3rd year Diploma Student in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing at the time. 

First and foremost, I would like to start with sharing my experience throughout the competition that took the course of 8 months. The hardships from the competition had started from the very beginning of my submission, where it was a work done within 22 hours. Usually, I am not the last minute type of person when it comes to submission; however I was scrapping the original work a day before submission. Thus, the last minute work experience. 

Up to today, I am thankful that I did not give up on the very first attempt. Though was not my best submission, it was a start of something greater to come. 

Soon after that, I was called in for a presentation with the judges. It was my first time presenting to a panel of industry experts and unlike my usual school presentation, it was the most nerve wrecking presentation I've ever encountered. From this first session alone, I was given a lot of advices and criticisms that I value to this day. Ever since then, I would meet the judges once every month or two to work on the collection. 

It was from these mentorships, that I learned the most valuable lessons in the fashion industry. Each mentorship gave me different insights and learning experience that I couldn't have gotten elsewhere. Though it was the toughest, most stressful period of my life, it was indeed the most inspiring course of 8 months. There were a lot of trials and errors, a lot of self - doubts and certain people encouraging me to give up. You would not believe how difficult it was for me, especially juggling with final year projects of school together with the competition work at the same time. Side story of this, is I am the type of student who aims for the best work possible so I did try to manage both project together and gave my best.

Before I fast forward to the local judging session commenced in End on February 2015, you should know that I am a stutterer by birth. For those of you who are not aware of the term : Stuttering (/ˈstʌtərɪŋ/) or stammering (/ˈstæmərɪŋ/) (more generally the first in US and the second in British usage) (alalia syllabarisalalia literalis or anarthria literalis) is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases as well as involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the person who stutters is unable to produce sounds - taken from wikipedia

This, explains to you of why every school presentations, especially the presentations I did with the mentors are always very frightening. For me to not being able to deliver what I wanted to say, was exceptionally frustrating especially when I was presenting to industry experts or doing a video interview with BAZAAR team during the mentoring session. With my inability to speak properly especially when it gets worst with my nervousness, I was told that my presentation during the mentorship did not convey my confidence in my collection. 

Hence, before the local judging session, I was extremely worried that my stuttering will get the best of me. However, things turned out differently during the day itself. I woke up feeling delighted that I've reached so far in this competition, learned so many valuable things and met the most amazing mentors. I couldn't ask for more. I was prepared for what the outcome is. On that day itself, I met two wonderful competitors that I see as my senior and friends instead of competitors. 

Later that day, I did for what I believe is the 2nd best presentation I've ever done in my life. 

The outcome of the local judging session was beyond what I expected. I was named the winner of the local judging session. It was right then and there that I thought, my hard work and perseverance paid off.

A couple of months after that, was the regional judging session. During that time, I got to meet another wondeful contestants from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam whom I admire and delighted to know. Seeing their work was a great inspiration and it exposed me to a greater view of creativity. 

The judging session, was held a day before the runway show at Singapore Fashion Week. Contestants were to present to 5 editor in chiefs of Harper's BAZAAR Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam together with representative of Istituto Marangoni and Tjin Lee, creator of Singapore Fashion Week. As scared as I was with my stuttering (yet again), I was determined to deliver the best presentation possible... And I did.

That presentation, became the stepping stone of me gaining more confidence in speaking. I overcome my stuttering issue since then, and the next interview or presentations I need to do, I am not scared anymore. 

With what I've shared with you up to this point, my main point is not about how the competition helped me to overcome my stuttering. It was much deeper than that; for the competition helped to push me beyond my comfort zone, beyond what I thought was impossible. 

Even if I was not crowned the winner of this year's competition, I will still be very much delighted of what I've learned and experienced so far. Joining competitions are not always about winning, it's also about being able to learn and to grow, as well as meeting new people. Don't be afraid of submitting the application or losing at the end. Losing and failure is a part of life; in fact, it is only through failures that one can actually learn. Take it from me myself, I've entered around 10 competitions beforehand before actually winning this huge competition. But each failed applications or almost-won-it competitions, never stop me from joining yet another competition.

My advice to you is never be afraid to submit or scared of what the outcome will be. Don't be discouraged by the thought of rejected application. You will never know. Who knows the winner of Harper's BAZAAR Asia New Generation Fashion Designer Award 2015 is a final year Diploma student (Well, I just graduated) ? 

And do you know that, every time I joined a competition, people will always ask what was the prizes and my answer will always be - I don't know? The reason being is, I joined to gain experiences, knowledges and to keep pushing myself into doing things I never did. For me, rewards are icings on a cake. The actual rewards are the dough itself. For this, I would like to thank Kenneth Goh, Thomas Wee, Debra Langley and Windy Aulia to help shaped who I am today. I know I've said this a lot of times, and I really mean it; Thank you for everything. Thank you for being patience with me when I made mistakes, Thank you for guiding me when I'm lost and Thank you for every opportunity given. Being a part of the competition was a luxury that I no longer have the privilege of to partake. 

I wish future contestants the best of luck, and listen to what the mentors have to say. Their advices and critics, are gold. Seriously. And yes, it will be hard but trust me when I say it will be an unforgettable experience. 

ps. Interested applicants may find the application form HERE 


Silvia TehComment