Carol Chen founded her eponymous brand in 2020 after establishing Covetella, a luxury clothes rental platform in 2015.
Chen was the winner of Singapore Stories 2020,
a fashion design competition organised by the Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore for locally based, emerging designers.
Carol chen with her winning Neoterica Collection
Top with cape sleeves & pants
Silk satin, zardozi embroidery with silver thread and beads
Collection of Carol Chen
This work is from Carol Chen's debut collection, Neoterica, influenced by Singapore’s modernity, inclusive culture, and architecture.
The title derives from the ancient Greek word neōterikos, which means new or young. To pay homage to traditional artistry of South and Central Asia, she incorporated Zardozi embroidery, which features the use of silver threads and beads.
The careful placement and scale of the embroidery is repeated for all five pieces of her winning collection. Additionally, most of the garments were made with unconventional methods and textiles, such as laser-cutting and recycled fabric. Actress Kiki Lim attended the Star Awards Ceremony 2021 at Changi Airport wearing this outfit.
Chen found it difficult to design from scratch because it had been awhile since she had designed something. The process was even made more complicated when the circuit breaker was introduced in Singapore.
She recalls that there were few fabric stores open and she had very little to work with. However, she managed to come out with twenty-eight initial designs before editing it to the five pieces for the competition.
For the silhouette, she combined the cropped top of the Indian sari with the long sleeves of Chinese imperial robes.
As part of her design process, Chen picked her favourite elements from past and present fashion looks.