Grooving To Her Own Beat

Known for her bold sense of style, dance artist Rachel Lee shares how her passion for vintage fashion and dance inform one another.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

"Describing her style as “experimental”, Rachel is a fan of clashing prints and colours. “ I love trying on different looks and keeping it fresh,” she says."

I magine going from copying music video dance moves on MTV as a child, to winning a national dance competition on TV – that’s not some feel-good movie storyline, but Rachel Lee’s life story. The 31-year-old, better known as “Racheezels” (a portmanteau of her name and favourite snack), is now a professional dancer and one half of popping duo “Scrach Marcs”, formed with her husband Marcus Tan in 2008.

The petite dancer has a penchant for vintage clothes, and is always decked out in accessories. “There’s no such thing as too much accessories! They really take your outfit to the next level. Vests, statement belts, hats are my best buddies and I wear them almost every day.”

And brands adore her: She has appeared in campaigns for Uniqlo, Asics, Spotify and Havana Club, showing off her signature experimental aesthetic, which involves mixing vintage pieces with new ones to breathe new life into them.

Naturally, the cool girl is a fan of thrifting and vintage shopping, a must-do whenever she travelled to countries like Japan and the US. But the business graduate has also taken it to the next level by starting her own vintage clothing businesses, Raid Revival and Style Fromagerie.

“I started Raid Revival in 2018 with Nat (Nathanael Ng, co-founder of local label Mash-up) with the vision of spicing things up in the local fashion retail scene. We curate and sell vintage, pre-loved, cult brands and all the crazy things we love and collect from everywhere!” she says. Most recently, the duo raided local crochet artist Kelly Limerick’s closet, and the items are on sale now at the Superfreak boutique at Stamford Court, and online at https:// raid-revival. Style Fromagerie is more of a passion project, an online business she started during the Circuit Breaker period to sell her own vintage items.

As Rachel’s style is not one that rides on trends, it takes a certain amount of charisma to pull off her outfits – something she attributes to her practice in dance. “Dance encourages style and individuality, and influences how I choose to present myself,” says Rachel, who won national TV contest Dance Floor Season 2 and choreography competition Singapore Dance Delight Vol. 6 –in 2016, the same year she turned full-time. The multiple dance styles (popping, waacking, hip-hop) that she trains in each have storied histories that allow her to put on multiple hats (quite literally), and inspire her dressing.

“I’m always intrigued by interesting cuts, designs, colours and layers,” she says. “I try to be open about styles and different looks, so it’s always fun and fresh to wear a newly matched outfit. I love statement pieces, but also pay attention to the smallest details in an outfit, like buttons and brooches.”

And of course there’s her dance and life partner Marcus, whose similar interests fuel hers. “He’s a great shopper so he’s never on the ‘husband couch’ at the malls, but either with me or ahead of me when we’re out shopping!” she says. “I also get a lot of handmedowns from him, so I do wear a lot of his clothes actually.”

While the pandemic has put a damper on Rachel’s dance endeavours, she proposes using that new-found time alone fruitfully. “Take your time to find what you like. Understanding your body, your personality, what speaks to you and what represents you is an important process to explore. When you love what you wear, you wear it with confidence. You do you!” – VALERIE WONG 

My Reading Room
Rachel’s retro outfits are often inspired by Studio 54, the New York City disco popular in the ’70s and ’80s known for its flamboyant party fashion.
My Reading Room
Rachel loves tailored wear when she does popping because it’s smart and comfy.
My Reading Room
“If you’re new to accessorising, try putting on a monochrome outfit and pick two to three accessories as accents – they could be smaller items like statement earrings, socks and rings,” says Rachel.
My Reading Room
Performing together under the moniker Scrach Marcs, Rachel and husband Marcus Tan share a love for fashion and regularly collaborate with brands like Asics – they’re seen here modelling the Asics x Sneakerwolf Gel-Kayano shoe.