Soft-spoken he may be, but Max Tan tells beautiful stories with his clothes — even if they are in black and white. Likewise, the fashion designer, who designs women’s ready-to-wear for his namesake label, keeps his own wardrobe monochromatic. He arrives at the studio decked out in a black jumpsuit in his signature aesthetic: Austere with a touch of street-chic.

Max.Tan, which launched in 2009, was barely in its formative years when it started to garner attention. “The campaign for my first collection was featured on the top 10 Spring/Summer 2010 on Stylesight.com (now wgsn.com), alongside Valentino, Miu Miu and Alexander McQueen. It was nerve-wracking being in the spotlight with barely a collection under my belt, but that inspired me to continue doing what I like and stay true to my creative vision.”

Limiting his designs to a monochromatic palette is challenging, he admits, but the trick is to embrace creativity. “The shapes and designs need to innovate every six months in order to look fresh. Thankfully, I have a small team of creatives that work with me on design development.”

Which came in handy when Tan’s studio was appointed costume designer for National Day Parade 2017. “I had to use lots of colours,” he adds. “I also had to produce more than 200 designs in less than a month. But I was glad to be able to bring a different perspective to how costumes are seen in parades. After the project, I felt I was ready to take on far bigger ones!”