This exhibit presents snapshots of fashion and textiles across Asia, a monumental task for a small gallery. Treat this as a small sampler and an opportunity to see rare pieces from the museum’s collection that have never been exhibited before.
Because of the fragility of textiles, the gallery is very dimly lit but it is enough to admire the detailed embroidery of a Japanese kosode and colourful prints of Indian textiles from the Coromandel coast.
There are standout pieces, some on loan from the Peranakan and National Museums. The Peranakan Museum loan is a set of three kebayas made and worn by three generations of a famous batik-making family.
One can see the evolution of the colours and aesthetics in the sarong, from more conservative browns and blacks to the brighter pastels and floral motifs, as well as the trends in the kebaya tops, from the simple square borders of the early 20th century to the elaborate frills of the 1930s.
Another eye-catching piece is a 1902 Thai sua khrul (official robe) gifted by King Chulalongkorn to Admiral Andreas du Plessis de Richelieu for his contributions to the Thai navy. The rare exemplar features naval motifs such as anchors and steering wheels in intricate gold beadwork.
Look out too for a batik cheongsam, with a beautiful matching silk selendang, donated by Madam Kwa Geok Choo, the late wife of Singapore’s founding premier Lee Kuan Yew, to the National Museum.
There is no single thread uniting this show, unlike the previous exhibit, which tracked the evolution of Chinese dress from the late Qing to the Mao era.
But Fashionable In Asia does hint at the multiple possibilities the ACM can explore as it pivots to being a decorative arts museum.
The very idea of fashion trends, so long defined by Western capitals; the political and trade rivalries underlying the rise and fall of Indian textiles and batik fabrics; and the significance of clothing and costumes in South-east Asian societies all offer fertile ground for the ACM to excavate in coming exhibitions.
Where: Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place
MRT: Raffles Place
When: 10am to 7pm daily, till 9pm on Fridays
Admission: Free for Singaporeans and permanent residents
Where The Sun Sets: A Solo Exhibition By Koo Mei
Some may recognise Koo Mei as the actress and singer who dubbed the singing voice of Lin Dai in the heyday of 1950s Hong Kong cinema.
The 92-year-old remade herself as an ink artist after retiring from show business in the 1970s and this is her first solo show in Singapore in 21 years.
It is evident from the 17 works on show here that Koo is no dilettante. She favours imaginary landscapes with misty mountains and flowing rivers, classic shan shui motifs.
The paintings demonstrate her mastery of brushstrokes as well as the ink medium, with ethereal cloudscapes, bold mountains and delicately detailed boats and houses.
Where: iPRECIATION, 50 Cuscaden Road, HPL House 01-01
When: Till April 24, Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 7pm; Saturdays, 11am to 6pm; Sundays and public holidays by appointment only. Call 6339 0678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Info: iPreciation’s website
This article was originally published in The Straits Times.