Rules are made to be broken, or so it’s often said. White lies and petty thefts are relatively easy to justify, what about bigger rules — like those of morality or religion which ascribe people to live out perfection? Can they, too, be safely subverted? Singaporean designer Max Tan explores an answer to this question in his Spring/Summer 2016 collection, “Thou Shalt Not,” an allusion to the Ten Commandments. Given these restrictions and the expectations, Tan’s freedom exists in the escape from rules and ideals.
MAX.TAN’s collections often delve into volume and deconstruction, but none more so than its most recent work. The shapes are, for the most part, full and capacious, utilizing heavy draping across the body. Pockets are left half-sewn in a leisurely fashion, while vertical cuts expose underlying layers with a resulting fringe. Angled garment patterns left the hems of skirts jagged and uneven, abandoning any sense of conventional instruction.
However, it is Tan’s more overt forms of deconstruction that are worthy of much praise: the slashed, ribbon-like dresses are paradoxically both somber and playful. There is an irregularity in their serrated silhouette, but this sharpness is offset with the organic method of raw and non-hemmed incisions. Similar to the loose, macramé dress, Tan’s manipulation of the textiles renders them akin to netting. So determined to escape, Tan spawns a frenzied, scribble motif that adorns the last few looks to his collection.
Citing that change is the only constant, “Thou Shalt Not” attests to Tan’s rebellious outlook on not only garment construction, but fashion holistically. To strive for utter flawlessness limits the creativity of both the artist and their product. This Spring Summer collection from MAX.TAN is a result of experimentation, freedom and complete disregard for the attainment of perfection.