Published: Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 7:38:03 AM

Phuna Boon Yi: Young and talented designer

Jovian Mandagie (left) and Yi at the Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Weekend.

Jovian Mandagie (left) and Yi at the Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Weekend.

One designer’s journey that started with a win at the Mercedes-Benz Stylo Fashion Awards.

STANDING at a height of 148cm, she might be considered small in size – but there is no doubting her big talent for fashion design. Although only 22 years old, Phuna Boon Yi has already had the honour of being named the Mercedes-Benz Stylo Emerging Designer of the Year 2013.

As part of her win, Yi showcased a collection in the capital city of the Czech Republic. Her creative designs took to the runway at the Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Weekend, which was held last September.

Together with compatriot Jovian Mandagie (Fashion Designer of the Year 2013), they did the country proud – proving that when it comes to Malaysian fashion design, it isn’t something to be sniffed at.

Phuna’s collection that was unveiled at Prague is named San Tien. It is inspired by the formation of lightning and thunder, and symbolically takes on the movement of Malaysia’s longest river, Sungai Rajang.

Phuna’s collection is inspired by the formation of lightning and thunder.

The idea for the collection was interpreted through the colours of her dresses, as well as the striking silhouettes and fabrications. More than that, it focused on how the materials were manipulated.

To create her fabrics, for example, Yi reportedly hand-dyed, separated and rearranged strands of wool into a netting base, before felting them together to form a single fabric.

According to Yi, the experience has taught her a lot. This is especially so when it comes to the technicalities of working with different textures and materials.

She says: “I think that designing the collection was a great learning experience for me. Through it, I gained an insight on how textiles can be manipulated to create beautiful dresses.”

As observed on the runway, every piece from Yi’s collection was unique. They proved to be cohesive too – the sort of collection a bold and daring woman would find appealing.

This is Yi’s first prêt-à-porter collection. Making mostly avant-garde collections in the past, she was challenged to create ready-to-wear this time round. She nevertheless didn’t shy away from it.

“I found it more difficult to design ready-to-wear as compared to avant-garde. Maybe it’s because I’m more used to the latter. But it was a good first-time experience for me,” she comments.

While Yi has come a long way in developing her talent, she thinks that her journey has only just started. The Selangor-born designer is still a student. She is currently studying at the SML Fashion Academy in Kuala Lumpur and will be graduating this year.

She says she has not given much thought to what the future holds for her in terms of her career and her priority at the moment is to focus on her studies.

The Mercedes-Benz Stylo Fashion Awards celebrates the best in the local fashion scene each year. Through it, two top award winners are then afforded a spot to showcase their designs at an international fashion week held under the Mercedes-Benz name.

Last year’s edition of the fashion awards took place in March, during the week-long Mercedes-Benz Stylo Fashion Grand Prix 2013. The next fashion awards are this March.

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, Mercedes-Benz Stylo Fashion Awards, Phuna Boon Yi, Emerging Designer of the Year 2013


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