Singaporebrides | Fine Dining
Modern Chinoiserie Styled Shoot at The Riverhouse
Step inside The Riverhouse at Clarke Quay and immerse yourself in the mysterious and sensual modern chinoiserie styled shoot we did!
You must have walked past The Riverhouse several times when you were checking out the bars in Clarke Quay and were very curious about what it looks like inside. With this styled shoot, we bring you past those old doors and into the glamorous Old Shanghai in the 1920s, although we did inject a tinge of rebellion into the concept with modern accents and a darker mood. All you drama queens are going to love this shoot.
Together with the art direction from Furqan Saini, we worked with a passionate team of creatives from Inside The Knot, Bridelope Productions, Cupplets, featuring gowns from Amanda Lee Weddings and The Wedding Present and jewellery from State Property, with the adorable Naomi Yeo, stunningly made up by Autelier Make Up.
Find out more about how we styled the entire shoot, with a really short but candid interview with Naomi and her thoughts about relationships and weddings.Embroidered lace qipao from Amanda Lee Weddings. Patent knee high boots from Charles & Keith. Knuckle cuffs and pearl earrings from State Property.
Let’s get to know Naomi Yeo. What kind of a person is she, and what kind of a life partner would she make?
Naomi: I’d like to think of Naomi as an independent and self-assured person when it comes to being in a relationship. I’m not sure if my friends can say the same thing about me, but I’m speaking for myself at this point in my life! She’s a dreamer but also a realist in many ways. When in the thick of things, she is a good problem solver, and can work on coming to a solution as quickly as possible. Ultimately loving, but also very intense if you step on her toes. Not an angel after all!
A relationship, a committed one at least, comes with overcoming difficulties, and it is important to be willing to give each other space to grow as individuals, and in love as partners. I feel having a good sense of humour is a bonus, and communication is like fine wine – it gets better over time.High slit lace embroidered and embellished peacock gown from Amanda Lee Weddings. Sunglasses with attached chain and platform heels, both from Charles & Keith. Earrings from State Property.
What was it about fellow artiste Benjamin Kheng that made you think, “Yes, I want to date this guy”?
Naomi: I think it’s important to acknowledge the different facets of dating. Some of us date to get to know more people, to understand ourselves a bit better when it comes to interacting with interested parties, or finding a suitable partner to commit themselves to. I’ve learnt that I can’t do casual dating, and I’ve accepted that about myself.
The sentence “I want to date this guy” has come up at different stages in my life. And I can tell you at each point in time, I was looking for different things. I find I lean into certain characteristics I identify with – when they have a good sense of humour (because Lord knows I’m not very in-tune with mine), when they treat people with respect and kindness, and when they are aware of what’s going on around them. It also helps that they can stand on their own two feet and know who they are even when times are bad.
But aside from being drawn to certain people – and I’ve had to learn this the hard way – I feel being self assured can help guide your way into this thing we call the dating game. Sometimes, to have a healthy dose of mindfulness, self-reflection or even heartache is necessary in order to live life to its fullest. If everything’s a journey, then one must be able to come out of it stronger, and not any less.
What are your thoughts about weddings, especially the whole big budget, big wedding she-bang that the current generation seems so averse to?
Naomi: The phrase “whole big budget, big wedding she-bang” is already sending ripples down my spine. My heart can’t take it! Hahaha!
The magic of a wedding is the gathering of happy hearts and people that have known you through time. Setting up a wedding involves being practical about budgets and what you can achieve with the money you are willing to part with. Personally, extravagance and big budgets are not in my dictionary, and if it were up to me, I would like to marry the love of my life in a private and intimate setting.
If we did have some money leftover, maybe a destination wedding would take place! I would hate to become the person that holds a wedding just to earn back some money from my guests (ang bao culture has sort of scarred me when I heard about some horror stories) or be in the company of people I mostly don’t know! But when you’re combining two families, I understand certain compromises have to made, and I guess the real she-bang is when you have a good sit-down with your partner to discuss what can be done to make peace, not war!
I’ll show my parents this interview once it’s out so they can indirectly hear it from me. Hahaha!Embellished cheongsam gown from The Wedding Present.
Tell us about your experience at the shoot. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!
Naomi: I LOVED the shoot we did together. The energy on set definitely gave me the confidence to execute certain looks. I was with really talented and motivated creatives that took full advantage of the beautiful venue and turned it into something colourful and fun. We were going back in time for the look we wanted to achieve and I’m glad we managed to capture them for SingaporeBrides!
I had such an incredible time with the team. It was also a delight knowing that most of the details in this styled shoot can be executed and achieved on my own. If you’re searching for ideas to plan your wedding or engagement parties, I’m pretty sure you can find them in the SingaporeBrides website! No judgements if this shoot appeals to the dreamer in you too.
We brought in Furqan Saini, whom we’ve worked with on many shoots, to style Naomi for this concept. All we did was tell him that we envisioned we could turn sweet Naomi into the 8th mistress of a fictional Shanghai gangster boss, or maybe even the Gangster Boss Lady herself! The Old Shanghai theme may have been a concept that had been done a lot in the past, but we wanted to inject a little drama into the shoot, and Furqan is all about the drama!Cherry blossom silk cheongsam with tulle detail from The Wedding Present. Earrings and ring, both from State Property. Platform heels from Charles & Keith.
What kind of looks had you intended to create for Naomi for this shoot?
Furqan: Taking our inspiration from the glamorous excess of 1930s Shanghai, this story was based on that cultural touchpoint of gangster molls of yore. We looked at turning Naomi Yeo (whom we all know and love) into this otherworldly, slightly dangerous and always sensual being, who walked out of a time machine and into our world. Our references include Maggie Cheung in Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood for Love, and Temptress Moon with Gong Li. We brought along props like round-shaped sunglasses with attached chains from Charles & Keith and gorgeous modern-meets-tradition pearl jewellery from State Property. We had red folding fans as well and sequinned leggings to add drama to this shoot.
In selecting the gowns, we bore Naomi’s skin tone in mind and found gorgeously cut pieces that would accentuate all her best assets. We didn’t want to feature traditional looking qi paos or gowns (you don’t want to look like the mother of the bride, do you?) and found modern iterations of these from Amanda Lee Weddings and The Wedding Present.
What kind of tips can you give to brides who are looking to recreate this style for their pre-wedding shoot?
Furqan: I think finding the right location, the right wedding stylist, and digging deep into your concept to execute it from start to finish is important. Setup a few (secret) Pinterest boards and draw your inspiration from everything. This can include table settings, flower arrangements, ideal locations/venues, outfit inspos, right down to film stills and even song lyrics. Anything that inspires you!
I think anyone can pull off such a concept but the most important thing is for you (that’s you, the bride) to really, really want it. Don’t be half arsed in your choices. Go all the way.Sheer lace and chiffon gown with mandarin collar from The Wedding Present. Sunglasses with attached chain and leather and lace pumps, both from Charles & Keith. Pearl earrings from State Property.
The Make Up
While looking for a make up artist to work with for this shoot, I chanced upon some looks from Autelier Make Up that was exactly what I was looking for. They have a big team, so they definitely can achieve a variety of looks. Jasmine Liang from Autelier was such a breeze to work with. She knew exactly what we wanted and was able to advise us well when we were becoming a little too ambitious with our suggestions! Always listen to the expert, guys.
We hope you had fun at the shoot! Tell us what were the main points of Naomi’s make up for this concept.
Jasmine: The shoot was great! It was well organised, the venue was really nice, and last but not least, the teamwork was great.
I gave Naomi an oriental look with Shanghai waves on her hair. However, I gave it an airier texture so that it is still youthful and is a look that can suit anyone. A strong winged eyeliner paired with bold red lips are the signature of the oriental look.
Brides who are planning to wear traditional outfits such as the cheongsam may want to consider this oriental look. For brides who are able to appreciate the characteristics of the oriental look, I personally feel that you should be confident and adventurous so that you can carry off this look well.
Any beauty tips for our readers who are approaching their big day?
Jasmine: Skincare is something we often neglect. However, having a proper skincare routine prior to your wedding is exactly what will make a difference to your whole look on your wedding day. Hydration is one of the most crucial steps of skincare. So, take good care of your skin to achieve flawless makeup on your big day!
Bridelope Productions is a one-woman photography team for now, but Germaine comes with a big hearty laughter! Given the little information we were able to provide about the location and concept, the photos way exceeded our expectations. We loved how this high-contrast concept turned out beautifully moody, with the right amount of softness. Seeing Germaine being excited about the location and being adventurous with the lighting made us feel we could trust her with this shoot, even though it was the first time we met!
What did you think about the shoot?
Germaine: It was a great experience working with SingaporeBrides and some of the best vendors in the wedding industry. Everyone got to show off their best and explore something new at the same time, and we definitely found it a meaningful and enriching experience by working on something collectively, and in return, we hope that this styled shoot will help couples when they are trying to explore new venues and themes for their wedding.
Would you say this look in the shoot is your signature style?
Germaine: Every shoot is different, and normally, we try to explore new styles and angles for styled shoots and apply them in real weddings. I think for this shoot, there’s a mixture of our signature style, which is to use angles and editing to bring out the emotions from the model. Of course, Naomi did a superb job in helping me bring out and achieve the mood that I want. I was really impressed by Jasmine from Autelier, who is able to effortlessly bring out that Old Shanghai vibe with the makeup and hair. There are also a lot of experimentation during the shoot, especially with awesome Furqan, who helped tremendously with the styling and unique ideas.
One of the shots that I particularly like is the one where Naomi is just standing beside the window and against the wall, with the light shining in, which helped bring out the feel in the photo. It’s one of those shots that looks simple but it actually showcases many small details when you look closely.
Do you think this concept is still popular with couples?
Germaine: I think over time, the typical banquet-style weddings are becoming too mainstream and there seems to be a trend where couples are re-discovering traditional and oriental wedding themes and styles. At a Yanxi-themed wedding that I did recently, the couple actually rented a wedding sedan (hua jiao). Such uniquely-themed weddings will definitely be very memorable for the couple as well as the guests.
Amongst the many clubs and bars that have sprung up along Clarke Quay stands a building unlike the colourful facade of its neighbours. The Riverhouse stands poised and classy like a learned lady with a secret, its white walls and preserved architecture gentle yet austere.
The two-storey building, with its distinctively Southern Chinese architecture, is now a multi-conceptual lifestyle destination that houses a modern Chinese restaurant, Mimi, an alfresco bar, Yin, and a world-class nightclub, Yang.
When we found out this heritage building, with its original poetic name “Lian Yi Xuan” carved out of its signboard at the entrance, used to be the headquarters for a notorious secret society in the late 19th century, we pretty much had the idea of the styled shoot fixed!
The blue waves on the fabric partition at the lounge area inside The Riverhouse set the perfect mood for solemnisation scene. Wanting to break away from the typical reds you see at Shanghai-themed weddings, Inside The Knot chose a white and blush palette for the flowers, which adds a romantic mood to the cosy space. The warm glow from the lanterns placed along the aisle works harmoniously with the golden aura from the Double Happiness lighting stand.Lace embroidered column gown from Amanda Lee Weddings. Platform heels from Charles & Keith.
Upstairs at the restaurant, Mimi, Inside The Knot set up a photo-taking area so the guests won’t feel left out. The blue and white porcelain print backdrop, which ties in with the vases at the solemnisation area, is framed with auspicious red lanterns. It is reminiscent of the silk privacy screens often placed in rooms of that era by the window, and is very photogenic.Embellished cheongsam gown from The Wedding Present.
At the dining table, all the elements come together to create a modern chinoiserie tablescape of porcelain vases and luxurious glass candelabras. Not wanting to create too big of a contrast with the rest of the set up, the toned down table is still on theme and beautiful.
When I contacted Cupplets to help us with a cake design, they asked for our moodboard and almost immediately came back to us with an adventurous colour palette for a three-tiered cake! The unusual stacking and the use of differing shapes was inspired by the mandarin collar of the Mao jacket and the delicately embroidered cheongsam, which are motifs of the Shanghai theme. The bold colours reflect character, power, wisdom and change, which is exactly what the main character of our story was supposed to portray, while the feminine handcrafted sugar flowers softens with balance and stability. Thank you for taking our concept and giving it such an impactful meaning!
We’d also like thank all the vendors who came together to make this styled shoot a successful one. Thank you, too, to Naomi, for taking time to do the shoot with us. We really appreciate all your contributions to the concept! We hope all of you had a great time!
Photography: Bridelope Productions
Set and floral styling: Inside The Knot
Fashion styling and art direction: Furqan Saini
Assisted by Rin Low
Hair and Make up: Autelier Make Up
Cheongsams: Amanda Lee Weddings, The Wedding Present
Wedding cake: Cupplets
Jewellery: State Property Fine Jewellery
Venue: The Riverhouse
Talent: Naomi Yeo
Shoes and accessories: Charles & Keith