THE GEN-Y ALT-GIRLS
Anyone vaguely into the local fashion and party scene will recognise Hao – DJ, designer, and a member of our very own Female Collective. The 27-year-old is the consummate multi-hyphenate, diversifying her interests more recently to include gardening, and pushing for a more sustainable approach towards fashion. Likewise, photographer and visual artist Caine is big on social issues such as feminism and independence, both key themes that run through her work that includes visual essays on “intriguing individuals” such as a taxi driver who moonlights as an opera star. Completing the group is Yip, who describes herself as a graphic designer by day and – as the most “emotionally balanced person” in the group – the creative fulcrum between Hao and Caine by night.
Since 2015, the trio have been working jointly as the multi-disciplinary collective Common Culture with the goal of “examining and embodying the culture of the common man”. Projects range from creating images for brands such as Charles & Keith and the chinoiserie-inspired Chi Chi Von Tang, to pop parties all lensed through their arty, ’90s club kid-influenced eye. For a taste, scroll through their Instagram feed (@common_culture), which throbs with a saturated Wong Kar-wai-esque colour palette and DIY party vibes.
The aesthetic is of little surprise considering that all three used to hang out at the underground joint Home Club – now better known as Canvas – as “teenage rebels”. It was also the venue of their first official showcase party held mid last month. In true indie spirit, Hao says of it during our interview: “We want our friends to come not expecting a big, successful event, but to simply experience our world, let loose and have fun.”
How the friendship first started
GY: “We’ve all pretty much known each other since we were kids. Linda and I met through common friends and haven’t looked back since. I met Marisse at a New Year’s party when we were 17. If I remember correctly, we clicked talking about a guy who was dancing shirtless at that party.”
MC: “I always thought Linda was cool, but never thought we’d have common interests even though we were in the same group of friends for almost seven years. But one day, at a friend’s birthday party, we bonded over fried chicken and a similar sense of humour. I approached her after that to photograph her for a Lomography campaign that celebrated stylish, rebellious women, and the rest is history.”
On their creative chemistry
GY: “I like to think of the three of us as being on a see-saw, with Linda and Marisse making up the kids on the two ends, constantly bouncing up and down (with different ideas) while I’m the calm fulcrum in the middle that keeps them from flying off... That’s turned out pretty well for our friendship and projects in general because, in both cases, you need a little bit of crazy and calm.”
Their creative vision
LH: “We produce things mostly for joy and the fun in the entire creative process, so our work tends to reflect that a lot... I also think what sets us apart is that we don’t create things for ourselves – we like to share it with people. Ultimately what we truly want to do is to create art, gather people and enjoy ourselves.” MC: “We love to have fun and be happy.”
GY: “(Always) a good party because that’s where all our (individual) strengths lie – event planning and music.”
MC: “A festival.”
From left: MarisSe Caine (MC), Linda Hao (LH) and Genevieve Yip (GY) Photography Vee Chin Styling Imran Jalal Hair & Makeup Benedict Choo, using Make Up For Ever Clothes Their own