Under the spotlights on a Sunday afternoon, a fashion show proceeded apace at Teck Ghee Community Club. Stylish floral appliques, one-of-a-kind head pieces, and pops of bold primary hues contrasted with classic black, white and metallic silver, all featured in the avant-garde designs of next year's spring/summer collection inspired by the environment and nature.
The appreciative audience comprised elderly residents of the community attending the Teck Ghee Wellness National Day Celebration Lunch on Aug 18.
And the show creators, designers and models were a group of grandmothers and seniors who shared a passion for turning recycled materials into wearable pieces of fashion.
Their creations could almost be mistaken for couture, except that they were actually made from scraps of daily life.
There were plastic bags and onion sacks collected from grocery shopping, empty packets of instant coffee and tea, fruit protective foam mesh sleeves, unwanted home decorations, and even snack wrappers.
Led by 65-year-old Wendy Cheang, these women are part of Teck Ghee Community Club's modelling interest group, which was formed in 2013.
The group, which meets weekly, has up to 20 members aged between 45 and 70.
Most are housewives or retired seniors. They have become good friends who get together several times a week.
A mother of two and a grandmother of one, Madam Cheang discovered that she had more time for herself as her children got older. (Her children are now adults - her daughter is 33 and her son is 28.)
At the same time, she found a lack of interesting programmes for seniors.
She decided to put her skills - which she picked up from modelling school during her younger days - to getting seniors like her to be more active and, at the same time, make more friends.
She also leads the group in simple dance and aerobics movements at their weekly sessions to keep everyone active.
Madam Cheang, who used to watch how her grandmother tailored clothes, also got the group started on creating outfits made of recycled materials.
"At first, I started teaching people how to make hats out of recycled materials. I also taught modelling classes in community centres. Most of my students were seniors, and when we decided to showcase our hats, we decided to make our own outfits as well to save money," she said.
The members have now created a support network for themselves, and built up their confidence in making public appearances.
Every month, the group takes part in events at various community clubs, where they will parade their creations, sometimes themed according to the occasion.
They also regularly visit old folks' homes, entertaining seniors with song and dance performances, or getting them to take part in simple exercises.
"People think that beauty, fashion and modelling are for the young and youthful, but times have changed. Older women like myself can also be models and be beautiful in our own way. We learn to walk with confidence on stage and it also gives us confidence in our daily lives," said Madam Cheang.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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