02 September 2011

Fashion at ION Orchard Shopping Mall

ION Orchard is one phenomenal building. An architectural and futuristic delight, it opened to the public in 2009 with 300+ stores across 8 levels of shopping space. It is by far my favorite shopping mall on Orchard Road (my favorite in all of Singapore is The Shoppe at Marina Bay Sands but that's another blog). It caters to everybody from the top end down.

The upper floors of ION Orchard abound with luxury brands the likes of Armani, Ferragamo, YSL, D&G, Valentino, Miu Miu, Max Mara, Dior and Burberry, to name a few.  The store displays are beautiful as expected with doormen at the ready to welcome the shopper inside.

The lower levels are designated to retailers for mainstream shoppers mixed in with food courts, my favorite coffee shop the Coffee Bean and access to the nearest train station.

A portion of the ION Orchard Shopping Mall

Launched by Manny Mashouf, an Iranian-born American in 1976, Bebe has an international presence with three outlets in Singapore.

The brand’s objective is to create merchandise that is playful and sensual for the contemporary woman. True to its objective the clothes are gorgeous, designs are gorgeous, fabulous quality and the prices are great averaging between $150-$200.

You can find anything from workwear, to sportswear, casualwear and eveningwear along with bags, shoes and accessories.

New season's maxi-dress

Karen Millen of England

A UK established company since 1981 it started with a loan of 100 sterling pounds to manufacture and sell shirts to friends. Today, Karen Millen spans five continents, a long way from its humble beginnings.

Karen Millen is synonymous with elegance and style. Catering more towards the 35+ the clothes are ready to wear from all day to well into the evening.

Whilst the store is not large, the clothes are cleverly sectioned into complementary colour schemes with matching shoes and handbags. A dress with matching bag and shoes will set you back approximately $1,000.

The colourblock collection seems to be very much a Karen Millen signature.  Designed to have a "look at me, look at me" wow factor the green, blue, white and black combination is very English and very classy.

Colourblock Collection

Check out the website www.karenmillen.com. It really is worth the effort.


What a lovely retailer. It’s colourful and lively with anything from smart casual to work to trendy to cocktail. If you are visiting Orchard Rd you can either pick one of the three Zara stores or visit all three.

Zara has a superb business model where new merchandise is delivered to stores bi-weekly, thereby freeing the stores from disposing of any unpopular items instantaneously. With ongoing fresh stock the shopper will always find something new to add to their wardrobe. As Alina of ViaStyle put it “Zara has the ability to commercialize the runway trends in less than two weeks from sketch to store... The store staff are trained to give instant feedback to the design team on what is selling and what is not. The non-selling styles are pulled out the next day and replaced with a new style! Incredible!”

Considering the excellent quality and the range of merchandise available I was surprised at how well they were priced. The average garment price was under $100, whilst many of the shoes were around $200.

What I also found interesting is the quantity of male staff in the female section of the store. They looked smart and efficient and each staff member seemed to be interested in their jobs. Now there’s a first.

I loved the red and white polka dot wedged platforms and the cream floral peep toe platforms. The inner padding made both platforms surprisingly comfortable.  I did however need to hold onto something in order to get into these incredibly high platforms and I am no stranger to stilettos.

I found a beautiful orange maxi-skirt which really needed a tall slender girl to carry it off. The only drawback was that it was too sheer. On a sunny day .... well you can imagine. It was nicely priced at $90.

A couple of hundred metres down the road was an even bigger and better store. Across two levels and substantial space, this Zara was even better at displaying and organising their merchandise. The various designs were easily accessible and readily available for viewing without needing to lift a finger. This store was much more aesthetically pleasing with a better segregation, organisation and coordination of their merchandise.

The men’s department catered from the youthful trendsetter to the stylish yet still modern corporate flyer. The collection contained anything from cargo shorts and polo T-shirts to shirts, pants, suits, shoes and bags. Much of the collection allowed the individual to step into any tropical paradise or just plain summer and be right at home.

A visit to Zara is a must. If you are not in Singapore, never mind, Sydney opened a few months ago with a sensational three storey establishment, measuring at 1400 sqm in its famous Pitt Street Mall and Melbourne’s Zara has an even larger retail space in Bourke Street Mall.

If neither Australia or Singapore are your location, well Zara is found in over 400 cities across all the continents. Now that is a global powerhouse and a far cry from its 1975 start in Spain.

Cream floral peep toe platform $179
Orange maxi-skirt $90
Mohair sweater with elbow patches $90


This retailer is perfectly designed for the slender and petite woman.

With Japanese imported fabrics and local designers, Southaven carries a lovely collection of sophisticated female apparel. These nicely structured, soft and elegant garments are targeted for the 20-30s along with a terrific price range of just under $100 each.

What was evident in the designs were the small details either in the waistband of the skinny hipsters, or the slight side gather at the hem of the three-quarter pants, or the soft ruffle that draped gracefully on the v-shaped dress.

 A great store to draw inspiration from when putting together the non-casual part of your wardrobe.

It requires a particularly small frame to carry
these pants off


Who doesn't know Guess?  My local shopping centre in Melbourne had one but I never checked it out and by not knowing the price range in Australia, I cannot compare with Singapore. However, I thought that $100-$200 was quite reasonable here.

This particular Guess store had a great window display and I felt compelled to enter and see more. I was not disappointed. Great fabrics, soft, summery and girly garments, pretty bustiers, fresh youthful designs with a hint of modern country. The typical Guess handbags were in abundance but what I liked the most was the milky-white, straight-cut, braided neckline, viscose dress with these great strips of fabric bunched together to make up the short sleeves. It was a simple dress that made a great statement. I could see it worn at a christening or engagement or cocktail party, really any after 5 event. It just needed a slender shaped woman to carry it off. The price of $170 was even more surprising.

Viscose dress $170
I seem to mention "slender frame" a lot but this is relative to the country I currently reside in. Singaporeans' thin and petite physiques reign supreme at 90% of the population.  However, at 170cm and Australian size 12, I managed to purchase a lovely full length summer dress, Guess shoes and Charles & Keith handbag.

Nichii dress $49 
Guess clogs $65 as featured in
"Shoes, shoes, fabulous shoes" blog (Jun '11)
Charles & Keith handbag $60

  • All prices listed are in Singaporean dollars.
  • With the exception of the first and last three photos all other images are courtesy of the world wide web.