Singaporean fashion designer Max Tan is a resilient creative voice in fashion. He’s spent nine years turning out collections, even clinching awards thanks to his clothing patterning skills and craftsmanship — an impressive feat as our city is a notoriously tough market to sustain a fashion business.
There’s no better person to kick off The Archive, our new regular column where we uncover and showcase a select independent fashion designer’s body of work. The aim? To scratch past the surface and unveil the brand’s many facets through its collections as it evolves each season.
Here, we dive deep into Max.Tan’s archives starting from 2010 when the label launched. These are modelled by his long time muse, Luth Seah who has fronted most the label’s campaigns.
Spring Summer 2010 – Cape shirt dress
We kick off with the cape shirt dress — the Max.Tan label’s equivalent of Chanel‘s little black dress. This number was part of the brand’s first spring summer 2010 collection. It is the epitome of balance between masculinity and femininity — a symbol of the brand’s genderless aesthetic.
Fall Winter 2010 – Nun dress
The cape shirt dress was followed up the next season by the nun dress. As its name suggests, it’s modest yet poised. One highlight of this tailored shirt dress is its interlinked cuffs that shape a complete loop from wrist to wrist.
Spring Summer 2011 – Tissue box dress
The next year, Max Tan introduced perforated neoprene into his line with the tissue box dress — a pivotal point in the brand’s construction and approach towards sculptural shapes. It is assembled with several neoprene panels and the jagged edges of the dress hems point outward, defying gravity.
Spring Summer 2013 – Crushed silk top
In 2013, Tan took a different route, breaking away from the crisp layers of past collections. Tan gave the buttoned vest a new twist by constructing it with flowy crushed silk instead. The introduction of the lustrous material in his collection refreshed the DNA of his brand’s take on androgyny.
Spring Summer 2014 – Asymmetrical jersey top
Fall Winter 2014 – Quilted circular skirt
Asymmetry is another of the brand’s trademarks. The classic shirt was reworked into a softly draped jersey with a sliced off sleeve and in a looser fit. As an intended design, the circular skirt that’s paired with the top features patched quilted panels with mismatched fabric grains.
Fall Winter 2015 – Draped wool top and pants
One key feature of the brand is the manipulation of clothing proportions. The oversized clothing style aims for a genderless outlook while giving the illusion of an empowering stature and almost a sense of protection to the wearer almost.
Fall Winter 2016 – Mesh trench coat
When the brand moved to softer materials, it used lightweight mesh tulle to recreate a classic trench coat. The fabric’s sheer billowy mesh renders the construction a shroud of mystery resembling a ghostly silhouette.
Fall Winter 2017 / 2018 – Geometric top and handkerchief skirt
By now, Tan has been serving up disruptive monochromatic fashion collections. The designer nails each season with consistently genderless silhouettes featuring bold geometrical patterns in sizeable contours. Additionally, the display of depth and layering through the clothing folds of this look are part of brand’s evolution in construction.
Fall Winter 2017 / 2018 – Coat dress
As the Max.Tan label continues to seek balance between the light and dark tones in its clothing, the attention shifts on the minutiae. Despite its overarching monochrome aesthetic, no last detail is overlooked from the placement of buttons to the panels of the garment.
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A monumental moment for the brand
An unparalleled achievement was when model Carmen Dell’Orefice strutted down the finale of his spring summer 2015 show in his favourite fuchsia coloured coat that he specially designed for her. Dell’Orefice who is now 87 years old, got on the cover of Vogue at age 15 — a remarkable accomplishment for her age then. She is not only known in the fashion industry for being the world’s oldest working model but was also painter Salvador Dali’s muse. Till date, Tan counts this opportunity to work with the legendary figure as one of the most memorable moments in his career.
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Photography by David Goh
Styling by Josiah Chua
Styling assisted by Misato Kato
Hair and Makeup by Joseph Ng
Modelled by Luth Seah