M Culture @ Mandarin Gallery

As a mum of 6, you can imagine that fashion is the last thing on my mind. Every morning, I simply pull on what is at the top of the clothes pile and off I go to send some kid to school or to settle some ’emergency’. Lately though, my older kids have somehow morphed into teenagers, and you know how it is with teens and appearances. So it is with greater frequency that I hear comments such as “Aw mom, that sooo doesn’t match”. Or “Mom, that makes you look so old-fashioned”. Or once in a really blue moon, when I come down the stairs to go for dinner with the hubs, they suddenly say “Mom! That is the nicest thing you have worn in ages.” (and it could be just a blouse and a pair of fitting jeans). So after 15 years of neglecting my appearance, I have started to think that maybe it’s time I should start to put a teeny weeny bit of effort into my dressing and stop walking around in my rags. I approached M Culture, the very mod retail store over at Mandarin Gallery and they kindly acceded to my request of a sponsorship review.

Raw yet trendy look

M Culture is helmed by a local designer Michelle Ngo, who has 15 years of experience designing clothes for women. She graduated from the London college of fashion and has been designing for numerous brands both locally and regionally. She had even worked on Levi’s customised jeans collection and a pair of her jeans was bought by US singer Missy Elliott! Her versatility can be seen in her works, ranging from women’s wear to designing the entire wardrobe for a film production company. 

Left: Dress $269 Belt $129

Her designs are very flowy and she believes in designing clothes that compliment the woman’s body. You can get her line of clothing off the rack at M Culture, but if you need an outfit for a special occasion, just call up and make an appointment with her. She customises everything from wedding gowns, to evening dresses, and even casual wear. Some of her clientele find that they can’t fit into the typical sizes or they want something slightly different from the offerings in the malls, so they get her to design something unique. You can either bring a picture of a dress which you love in the magazines or you can just describe to her roughly what kind of style you would like. She will work with you to come up with a creation that looks good and accentuates your body shape. Sounds terrific to me! 

I would have expected her creations to cost quite a bomb, but I was surprised to hear that you can get a customised designer dress in the range of $200-$300, depending on the fabric and style. Well, the good thing is, Michelle is a designer by heart and she finds great satisfaction in creating something the client is happy with. So just let her know your budget and she will see what she can do. There was a client who brought her daughter to get a specially designed prom dress as she couldn’t find anything suitable elsewhere. She had a very tight budget of keeping it under $200 and Michelle managed to play around with the fabric and style and created a dress that her client was happy with. She also works with tai tais who bring in $20,000 designer pieces and ask her to alter some parts of it for a better fit or to add something special to make the piece unique.

Distinctive and edgy designs

One of her clients wanted a unique wedding gown, with a vintage and romantic feel. She also wanted it to be low back with crystals and lace detailing. Michelle designed this beautiful piece for her big day.

Satin wedding gown
This evening gown which she created for a client was made from fabric specially imported from Europe. The bride specifically wanted to use beaded lace by Christian Lacrox and it cost about $1000+ for the dress. Do give about 1 month’s lead time for the gown to be ready.
Matching earrings

Besides individual clients, they also work with corporate clients to design uniforms. They have worked with clients like Tiger beer, Marriot Hotel, beauty chains and F&B companies. They do everything from simple tees with logos to aprons and even dresses.

The staff on hand at their retail outlet are very service-oriented and they were very helpful in giving me suggestions on what suits me and giving me options of styles to match. This is the first time in my life that I’m ‘modelling’ for some pictures and I must say I had a lot of fun!

Yellow silk drape top $189, Neon silver tote bag $209

Their designs are very wearable, with a little twist. Even the basics have an element of surprise. If there’s something on the rack that you love but need in a different size, they’ll be happy to customise one at no extra charge (only under the M Culture label). Talk about good service!

They also carry multi-labels from local designers such as Cassey Gan, Blake & Co, and Kenji. These designers come up with very interesting pieces which are rather affordable. Separates start from $59 while dresses start from $79. But the best part is that some of the designs are one piece per style which means that you wouldn’t be seen at a function wearing the same exact style as someone else.

Cassey Gan Checked Dress $139, Metallic stud clutch $129

Nothing beats accessorising to change the look of an outfit. M Culture is the only place in Singapore where you can get your hands on handmade avant-garde jewellery by UK designers such as Pretty Dangerous and Gemma Lister. Outside of the UK, they are only sold here and in cult designer boutiques in Hong Kong.

Pave square ring in gold, silver and rose gold $169
M Culture is an interfusion of elements which embrace our senses. They have an exclusive range of aromatherapy diffusers which are specially selected and manufactured in the U.S. They also carry the popular Votivo aromatherapy range which is a hit with Hollywood celebrities.
Aromatherapy diffuser $109

If any of the paintings in the store catches your fancy, do enquire, and chances are they are for sale.

Acrylic on canvas $1200, Embossed leather bag $169

These shorts have become my new favourite item of clothing. It can take me from receiving guests at home, to school pick-ups, to popping by the neighbourhood cafe for tea. I’ve never managed to find a pair of drawstring shorts which are comfy yet chic so I’m really pleased.

Printed shorts $139

Sane tip: I left the store with a renewed sense of appreciation for beauty. In our hurried lives, beauty is not one thing we make a conscious effort to appreciate. Speaking to a designer like Michelle, I can feel her passion and enthusiasm for style rub off on me, and I’m going to start paying more attention to my dressing and try and bring back beauty into our home.

Save tip: A few good quality versatile pieces can be accessorised for many different looks and occasions. 

M Culture
333A Orchard Road
#03-28 Mandarin Gallery
Singapore 238897
Tel: 67339616

Disclaimer: M Culture sponsored the clothes for this review. All opinions are my own.

~   mummy wee – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~

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