Felly Loi may be a part of the Couture Troopers team and has since shot numerous runway photos of the various fashion weeks and events, but she is certainly no mere photographer.
Trained in both fine arts and fashion design, Felly holds a BA (Hons) degree from LASALLE College of the Arts and a diploma in Temasek Polytechnic Design School respectively. The Singaporean visual artist and photographer (b.1992) describes her works as fresh, spontaneous and even organic at times, counting on her diversified experiences in the two fields as an opportunity for her to execute cross-discipline collaborative works.
Inclined to a process-based approach as well, her methodology towards her works paves way for numerous possibilities in experimentations, as well as spur-of-the-moments end results within the creative spectrum.
This has led to her Honourable Mention title at last year’s Harper’s Bazaar Singapore Photography Awards 2014 with her entry – an energetic ‘art and fashion’ themed fashion spread that was shot in Bangkok, Thailand. This was undoubtedly a daring decision made by the young creative who has also previously assisted L’Officiel Thailand’s fashion editor and photographer Surachai Saengsuwan in 2013.
More recently, she has also developed a series of resin, concrete and silicon sculptures that transpose and recast discarded objects into new forms and identities, exploring on the transcendence versus the ephemerality of the human conditions. By doing so, she is questioning on the blurred definitions of the familiar and strange and the organic and manufactured, and ultimately, creating a juxtaposed concept of human existentiality.
In lieu of her upcoming mini art exhibit at opening night of THE LASALLE SHOW 2015, we speak to Felly about her concept and ideas for her shoot, her perspectives on fashion photography and the importance of aesthetics in both art and fashion.
JY: Hi Felly, tell us more about the concept of your shoot for the Harper’s Bazaar Photography Awards 2014 and what made you want to choose this approach given the competition theme of ‘Art and Fashion’?
FL: I feel that a Harper’s Bazaar woman is an independent, contemporary warrior woman who stands on her own two feet through her battles in life. Therefore, i wanted to translate this concept through the styling and choreography of my shoot.
This concept of an ideal woman came to me after I’ve chanced upon the graduating collection of Bangkok-based designer Kanapot Aunsorn, which was designed based on the movie A League of Their Own, depicting women as they step into the baseball arena for the first time in the history. The storyline took place during the time of World War II when men were all employed into the military, and this explains the sporty silhouettes in the collection.
At the same time as well, I was also very much inspired by the music video Chandelier by Australian singer Sia. The colour treatment of the video and sharp swinging dance movements by American child dancer Maddie Ziegler, who is also Sia’s muse, intrigued me. I knew at that moment how I want my shoot direction to be.
By intertwining art and fashion, since both inspires each other, my series of photographs serves as a collaboration between the two elements, allowing for endless possibilities and results.
JY: What were some of the difficulties faced when executing this shoot?
FL: Directing the choreography with fashion garments that were made out of different materials worn on the model was especially tricky since the element of movement was key to my shoot. Therefore, understanding how the garments flow through the model’s movements is essential.
Of course, the most nerve-wrecking thing that happened to me would be the occasion where the first model who bailed out on me on the night before the shoot after I’ve sent her Sia’s Chandelier music video as visual reference.
As a result, I had to replace the initial model and choose another different model altogether. That incident itself made me realise that I had to learn how to rework my approach when explaining my concepts to potential models and to include specifics, if possible, to get them interested – by using images and moodboards to illustrate my ideas.
Throughout the whole time till the day of the shoot, I was incredibly worried of all the possible things that could go wrong. So when the first captured image appeared on the screen of my camera during the shoot, I knew that my shoot was going according to plan.
JY: Through your experience, what do you think of the fashion industry in Thailand, and how is it different from Singapore?
FL: I’ve worked with Thai university students. As a local Singapore student, I’ve noticed that Thai student designers generally tend to be more edgy and flamboyant when it comes to their design and personal dressing. On the other hand, majority of the Singapore fashion students tend to stay on the safer end of the fashion spectrum.
Through my observations, I feel that their collections are more geared towards either ready-to-wear or wedding, whereas for thai student designers, their designs tend to be more conceptual, elaborate and glamorous.
I think this has to do with the consumer market and the culture in the various schools. I personally feel that the local fashion and design institutions has the capacity to further push the potential and capabilities of the students.
JY: How do you think your diversified experience in those fields have helped to inject a different perspective to your series of photographs?
FL: I feel that my knowledge of textiles and fine art history helps to build a stronger concept in creating a balance between a fashion and artistic shoot. The shoot narration is also very important to me and by bringing in contemporary dance choreography into the shoots alongside the right styling of fashion garments enables my work to create a more effective awareness on the struggling issues of women in society, thus serving as an inspiration to the public.
Therefore, I think having two majors help to complement each other towards approaching a topic and answering in a combined way.
Above (left-to-right): S/S 16 Soft Pop (2015) and Nature Specimen Studies (2015) – silicon and resin fine art pieces by Felly Loi
JY: With academic backgrounds in both fashion design and fine arts, what made you want to venture into fashion photography?
FL: I have been exploring the link between the two genres, searching for a direction to answer my voice. I know that I wanted to work within these two genres but I couldn’t find the right approach and concept that I want to talk about. I think having photographer and stylist friends while i was studying helped to inspire and motivate me to take the leap of faith, to try and see if fashion photography works for me. And once I’ve tried it, I fell in love with it.
JY: In your opinion, what do you think is the element that makes a good photography stand out from the rest?
FL: I believe its about the main message that the photo is trying to convey; what you want to express and how it speaks clearly through the photograph.
The work does not end when the photograph is produced. The real purpose is what happens when the photographs are being shown and whether people and society are receptive to it.
JY: How would you describe your aesthetics and visual style?
FL: I am constantly figuring out what work and what doesn’t work for me, then I would try to put everything together, step back and reflect on what actually defines me as a creative individual. Right now i can’t truly define who I am.
I would say that I’m like a chameleon who is constantly changing my style to fit the theme and concept that I am dealing with, even for my own artistic practice. I feel that having a distinctive style or aesthetic is good because it defines and brands oneself. However, it can be very restrictive when experimenting with new visuals. I like to keep it fresh.
JY: Where do you look for your inspiration?
FL: So many places! They include music videos, works of artists, contemporary songs and dance, culture in places I’ve visited.
JY: Who are your greatest influences?
FL: They would have to be Annie Leibovitz, Kristy Mitchell, Bart Hess, FKA Twigs and Nick Knight.
JY: If you could shoot anyone in the world, who would it be?
FL: Iris Apfel
Felly Loi’s S/S 16 SOFT POP at The LASALLE Show 2015 (under the BA (Hons) Fine Arts segment) would be opening on 21 May 2015, 6.30pm. Exhibition would run till 3 June 2015, 11am to 8pm daily.
About the LASALLE Show 2015
THE LASALLE SHOW 2015 is an annual graduation showcase of contemporary art and design, and a venue for visitors to discover the exceptional talents who are poised to command centre stage in the creative world. Over 800 works will be unveiled, showcasing the best and brightest in contemporary works from Design, Fine Arts, Film, Media Arts, Fashion, Dance, Music, Theatre, Asian Art Histories, Art Therapy, Artist Educator and Arts Management, THE LASALLE SHOW 2015 marks the grand finale of an artistic education in creativity and imagination which transforms these young talents to professional artists in the dynamic creative industries.
THE LASALLE SHOW 2015 is held at LASALLE College of the Arts, 1 McNally Street, Singapore 187940(view google map)