“A sense of eccentric elegance, with an intelligent femininity” is how 24-year-old fashion designer Grace Ling would describe her freshly launched homegrown label. The BFA graduate at Parsons School of Design interned at the likes of Thom Browne and The Row before starting her own label -- a line of bags, jewellery and outerwear, with a unique and sustainable design process that melds 3D technology with fashion.
Ahead, we speak to the emerging designer as she takes us through her Manhattan apartment, her journey as a young fashion designer, what’s in store for her, and her brief cameo in Crazy Rich Asians.
Tell us about how you embarked on your fashion design journey.
My dad is an events designer and my mom is a makeup artist, I think subconsciously but surely, they have cultivated a sense of creativity in me. I went to study fine arts, sculpture and experimental performance art in SOTA and I became very intrigued with the idea of "wearable art" in relation to the human body. This led me into fashion design so I went to Parsons and CSM to study it. I had never been to New York or any part of America for that matter and I booked a one-way ticket and it was when it all started! Due to my background, I now love creating fashion that is multidisciplinary, often involving film, performance and collaboration.
You also use elements of technology in your work. Could you elaborate on this?
The core of my design process actually involves a lot of 3-D digital sculpting, 3D printing, CAD and CGI, this allows me to often calculate the exact amount of materials needed and create unique forms with zero-waste. I believe that technology is definitely the future of sustainability and I see sustainability as a design process and not always necessarily an end "product". With CGI, you can iterate designs countlessly and produce substantial showreel, without ever using any materials. This also simplifies production and manufacturing processes. I believe in creating less and creating well. I focus a lot on quality materials after calculating the amount needed in CAD. I want them to be timeless with longevity!
Who is your ideal customer?
My ideal customer is someone who is cultured and modern, someone who embodies the lifestyle of a witty spirit! One who holds an ongoing dialogue with the world of art, collaboration and multidisciplinary fashion. I would say many people in the creative industries. The age group keeps getting younger as internet and self-education gets more widespread.
Where do you feel fashion is headed in Singapore at the moment? Do you have any plans to return here to establish roots as a designer?
I am sensing the start of a shift in perspective towards fashion in Singapore, slowly departing from mainly commercial designs and objectives. More creatives are pushing boundaries and establishing new rules, authenticity and artistic direction. I travel back and forth between New York and Singapore, I think of establishing roots as a global perspective so I do think that I can be anywhere and work anywhere! (We also offer free worldwide shipping haha) However, one of my goals is to sell at Dover Street Market Singapore, I am really proud that Singapore has a DSM. Retailing in Singapore is definitely part of my growth plan. Singapore will always be my pride!
How would you describe your personal style?
Refined and sophisticated, but with an eccentric twist. However, I do occasionally have spurts of impulses to dress completely different from how I usually do. I like to try new things.
What are you currently up to in NYC at the moment?
I just launched our virtual store and e-commerce at gracelingofficial.com! I am also working on some exciting CGI film collaborations that are coming right up!
You had a cameo in Crazy Rich Asians! Tell us about that.
Yes, I was one of the bridesmaids! It was really amazing meeting all the actors and creatives behind the movie. There was a special kind of synergy and shared passion and this really inspired me to create this sense of milieu whenever I work or collaborate with people.
What's next for you career-wise?
I am all in on my brand and I hope to grow it exponentially over the next few years!