DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Actress, student, and now… fashion designer? Felicia Chin tells why CHERYL LEONG she’s always followed her passion in life.
Actress Felicia Chin tries her hand at designing a dress.
Three years after Felicia Chin made the decision to quit showbusiness to further her studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS), she has decided to set aside her books and return to full-time acting. The 28-year-old knows that some people may react negatively to her turnaround, but she feels that this is her priority now.
“We have different priorities at different stages of our lives. I’ve always loved acting, but maybe when I was younger, I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to do. The years I’ve been away from it have allowed me to grow and realise that it’s still my passion.”
Nevertheless, the ex-NUS Bachelor of Business Administration student hopes to have a business of her own in a few years – preferably in fashion design. “Being in showbiz, I’m constantly surrounded by beautiful clothes made with such effort and workmanship, which has fuelled my interest in fashion design. I feel inspired by the creativity that goes into it, and I hope I can unleash my own in the same way,” she explains.
The pretty, petite actress – who counts the Olsen twins’ casual-chic style as a fashion influence – is enthusiastic when she talks about her design aspirations. Calling it her way of planning for the future, Felicia says she owes it to her “naturally curious nature” to keep exploring her interests.
“That way, I get to step out of my comfort zone to discover what I’m really interested in and if I’ll be any good at it. I can decide for myself if that’s really what I wish to do in life. And if not, I can cross it off my list.”
1 Getting inspired
Felicia didn’t turn up for her “apprenticeship” empty-handed. She brought along tear sheets from fashion magazines showing styles that appeal to her – including embellished outfits, white T-shirts and bell-shaped dresses. Diligent, we say!
“Let’s make something similar to the bellshaped dress and make it a drop-waist. It’s chic and smart enough for work but
can be fun too.”
2 Design details
“Let’s make something similar to the bell-shaped dress and make it a drop-waist. It’s chic and smart enough for work but can be fun too,” the budding designer tells Keith, as she sketches out the dress she has in mind.
After discussing whether to include pleats and throw in an embellished neckline, Felicia finally draws the design.
3 Playing with colour…
Here’s where teacher and student have a tiny disagreement. Felicia wants to pick a bright sunshine yellow for her dress. But Keith warns her that it’s a tricky colour to work with – different shades suit different skin tones – and suggests she should pick another colour.
But she holds her own and they eventually settle for a shade of pale lemon.
Felicia is slightly at a loss when Keith probes her about the type of material, sheepishly admitting that she “hadn’t really thought that far ahead.” He then gives her pointers on why her design requires a stiff fabric like taffeta or duchesse satin. “It’s heavy so it weighs the bottom of the dress down and gives it the bell shape,” he says.
5 Assembly and fitting
To help Felicia understand how fabrics move around the body when worn, Keith makes her practise draping on a mannequin.
“A tip I picked up is to first pin along the centre line of the body, so that the dress isn’t crooked when you fit it. Then work on the gathers at the bust, waist and hips,” recites Felicia, as she steadily pins the folds of the fabric.
The last step is to mark out the neckline for her dress with fabric chalk.
6 Sneak peek!
Here’s how the finished dress will look!
“I’m excited about seeing the final product. It’s a dream come true that someone will actually be wearing something I designed!” gushes Felicia.
Tools of a fashion designer