What Will You Wear For Your Last Act?
You’ve passed on. And you’re lying in quiet repose in your casket.
Your loved ones will come pay their last respects…and say their final goodbyes.
But what will you say to them? Something that makes them smile, perhaps?
Or provoke a fond memory of you? How will you make a memorable Last Impression?
Let your Last Outfit — the attire you choose to wear at your final send-off — do the talking for you with sartorial eloquence.
A Lasting Last Impression
23 diverse participants – from all walks of life, all ages and creeds, all manner of fashion sense – model their choice of a Last Outfit. Each is an expression of Life – from formal to informal, dressed-up to dressed-down and everything in-between.
Mdm Foo’s Final Farewell
Her First Cheongsam
Mdm Foo Piao Lin was 46 when she took her final breath. She had fought a good fight but the cancer that loomed over her was fierce. And it eventually claimed her life. But it could not take her spirit.
When told about The Last Outfit project, she agreed to be part of it because she believed in what it is trying to do – getting people to talk about death openly. This was something Mdm Foo herself discovered as she journeyed to her own inevitable demise. With the help of her hospice caregivers, she and her family would come to view her terminal condition from a different perspective. They embraced the emotional and spiritual healing power of coming to terms with death. Once the inevitable was accepted, Mdm Foo began to make the most of every moment.
Before the end, Mdm Foo took to writing letters to her family and friends to share her thoughts and feelings. She also penned one to her caregivers at the hospice that had helped her and her family during this final journey. It was a poignant and heartfelt expression of peaceful resignation and gratitude from someone who had chosen to die well.
When asked about her final outfit, Mdm Foo’s choice was clear. She had always wanted to own and wear an expensive cheongsam. And that wish was fulfilled. When she passed away she was laid to rest in a beautiful tailored cheongsam.
Her first…and last…cheongsam.
Rest in peace, Mdm Foo.
Photo by Desmond Lim / The Straits Times
About The Project
Who decides what attire the departed wears at his or her funeral? More often than not that decision — and many others pertaining to the “send-off” — is left to the next-of-kin. But what if we changed that? What if people began taking control of this final big moment of their lives? Making decisions about the details of their own funerals — right down to their Last Outfits.
The Last Outfit is yet another part of the Lien Foundation’s ongoing Life Before Death campaign.
And there’s more to it than just your final fashion choices.
It is hoped The Last Outfit will help ease people into talking about Death and Dying Well.
For The Last Outfit, 8 professional photographers from The Straits Times captured 23 subjects attired in the final fashion statements of their choice. And as much as our “models” had to put thought into their Last Outfits, this was also a thought-provoking exercise for our photographers.
Wang Hui Fen – Chief Photographer
One day my life will flash before my eyes. I hope those memories will be worth capturing. To me, it is the ones who are left behind who have it harder – coping with the death of their loved one.
Lim Wui Liang – Photojournalist
A car hit me when I was 14. When I think about that accident, I consider myself really lucky to be alive. I still fear death. Not so much the notion of dying, but that I did not live life to the fullest before I go.
Mugilan Rajasegeran or “Mugi” – Photojournalist
The inevitable certainty of birth is death; the cynic would say we are born to die. This duality of our mortal existence is only natural and I have long accepted it, but not as a cynic. The nature of our profession is such that we deal with life and death on almost a daily basis. The gift of life is precious, and the looming spectre of death makes it all the more so. We should make the most of the time we have left to lead a fulfilling life with our loved ones.
Desmond Lim Photojournalist
In 2003, I was in a terrible motorcycle accident. I broke my right leg in six places. I was bedridden for about six months and my leg was nearly amputated. The accident changed my perspective on Life. Today, the hideous scars on my leg are a reminder of the fragility of Life and the non-discriminatory nature of death.
Neo Xiaobin Photojournalist
Death is part of the cycle of life. I don’t look forward to it, but when it’s time to say goodbye, I hope I can face it with positivity and without regret. As Leonardo da Vinci said, ‘As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.’ Death doesn’t need to be a taboo topic if we don’t allow it to be. Through this project, I’ve learnt more about my family and friends and their views on death. It’s been an enlightening experience.
Samuel He Photojournalist
My time at the newspaper has exposed me to the different ways people leave this world. But those experiences have not desensitized me. I still feel sad at funerals or when I’m with someone who has experienced death in their family. I believe that when we leave the world is not up to us.
Kevin Lim Photojournalist
I see death as being banished into oblivion. I shudder at the thought of being reduced to nothingness and losing my loved ones. Being laid to rest for eternity is scant consolation. However, this emptiness does provide an impetus for the living to fulfill their fantasies while they still can.
Nuria Ling Photojournalist
Death to me is part of the continuum of life. So I do not believe there is anything to be afraid of or to dread. Nonetheless, our time here on earth is an opportunity to learn, live and love. So what I fear is leaving before I’m done with that.