Designer Tengku Syahmi in a traditional Baju Melayu.
Four local male designers share their ideas of what dressing up for Raya means to them.
The best thing about Hari Raya is spending quality time with loved ones. However, dressing up for the occasion remains an integral part of the festivity. There is then the matter of what to wear. Do we go traditional or contemporary? Both are accepted by today's men it seems. At least that's the idea we get from these young designers. Here are four famous designers to show us their outfits for Aidilfitri.
Joe Chia & Silas Liew
For Malaysian non-Muslims, Aidilfitri is still a season to celebrate. It's when we can go around to friends who are having open house celebrations. That's what Joe Chia and Silas Liew are dressing up for. Chia, 27, and Liew, 30, share similar aesthetics as designers: a feel for clean, timeless minimalism. The two are best friends, but each has his own fashion label.
Their Raya outfits are very modern interpretations of traditional outfits. One of Chia’s, for example, presents a silhouette akin to the kurta but worn with an oversized jacket. Meanwhile, from afar, Liew's ensemble looks like a standard baju Melayu, but the pieces are actually modern separates. The tunic top comes with a stiff collar, and it is complemented with loose pants and a cloth overlay.
“I love layering, so I guess my outfit truly represents me. The colour black is a favourite of mine, and even with the modern clothes I’ve sent out on the runway, you’ll notice a lot of monochrome shades,” says Chia.
To Liew, it's all about clothing that's unfussy. His designs for women and men are both effortless in their form and versatile for different occasions. He states: “It really depends on where you’re going for Hari Raya. As we’re only visiting friends, who happen to be designers themselves, we can push the boundaries a little.”
Fairuz Ramdan doesn't think Hari Raya shouldn’t be treated like a fashion runway. The 33-year-old menswear designer feels that some men push too far when they select outfits for the occasion. “You have designers coming up with a sheer variety of classic Malay wear, for instance. I think that’s a little outrageous and overdone. You shouldn’t go crazy. It is Raya after all,” he states.
Don’t be mistaken, though. Fairuz’s collections for the runway are definitely brave. He's seems to favour bright colours and bold patterns, plus aspects of unconventional embellishments. That said, he's keeping it simple for Raya. His put-together ensembles denote a more traditional aesthetic but with some modern elements.
The first is a baju Melayu cut like a shirt, with the sleeve cuffs and collar showing a flash of contrasting fabric. The other comprises of a loose top paired with chinos and boat shoes. According to Fairuz, the pattern is very conventional – or rather, something that you'd probably recognise from more traditional fabrics, just in trendy colours.
He explains: “I tend to keep my Raya outfits as casual as possible. I’ll put on a songkok and sampin when I head to the mosque for prayers on the first day, but after that, I’ll change into something comfortable.”
Despite being only 24, Tengku Syahmi carries himself with an air of sophistication. His chosen looks for Raya are classic, but with an ease befitting his youth. Syahmi says the complete baju Melayu ensemble, with songkok and sampin, is for the first day. The other outfit, a simple traditional top worn with a pair of open-toe sneakers and jeans, is for days when he's visiting friends.
“When we go to the mosque on Raya morning itself, my family and I are usually dressed in something formal. When that's over, each of us tend to wear stuff that we're more comfortable with,” he explains.
Syahmi thinks that Raya necessitates clothes that are practical. With having to attend to and entertain guests, things can get a little hectic. Thus, he prefers loose clothing that's easy to move about in. “Aidilfitri is a celebration. As such, if you want to really dress up, go for it. It’s up to you to decide what’s appropriate or not for Raya. If you’re happy with how you look, why not?” he says.