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Thursday April 21, 2011

Homegrown label Salabianca looks to Paris for inspiration

Salabianca pays a nod to the French city with its embellished dresses and motifs.

THE mere mention of Paris evokes visions of romance, historical monuments, French noveau cuisine and shopping. Apart from being the epicentre of modern civilisation and the hub of cultures, the French capital is also the home of haute couture where fashion dreams are made and stylish battles (think Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli) are fought.

Given its fashion roots, it made perfect sense for homegrown fashion house Salabianca to hold its ninth (on-location) fashion shoot in The City of Lights.

Striking: Red and white striped spandex blouse and skorts complemented with matching accessories.

In the last few years, Salabianca has held its fashion shoots in Asian cities like Manila, Beijing and New Delhi. This time round, brand co-founder Allan Chan and business partner/designer Tino Soon decided to spread their wings and venture to a European location for a change.

“We decided on Paris as it’s a city that’s impossibly chic. It’s a place where four-inch heels meet cobblestone but never get stuck! This is the land of revolutions and fashion’s fabulous,” enthused Chan, adding that the collection is called Oui, Paris!

“Paris is a hub for cultures and intellect, a melting pot of colours and contrasts. Parisians are known for their passion for knowledge, politics, arts, food and fashion. It was also where African-American songbird Josephine Baker made her mark, and actress Audrey Hepburn shot many films including Funny Face and To Catch A Thief. It is the place where author Ernest Hemingway found inspiration for his novels and Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh painted fields, peasants and cypress trees,” added Chan, 51.

Towering presence: Drawing inspiration from Gustave Eiffel’s world famous Eiffel Tower, homegrown label Salabianca has cleverly incorporated applique on the image of Eiffel tower on a long sleeved T and white cotton skirt.

It was the tail end of winter last month and many perennial plants were just beginning to break dormancy for spring. Trendy overcoats, woollen shawls, designer handbags and leather boots appeared to be the preferred outfit for Parisians and tourists alike during the cold weather.

The team comprised the brand owners, with their regular campaign team (photographer H. Lin Ho, M.A.C make-up artist Stev Chong and creative director Larry Yee) and four members of the Malaysian media. Completing the outfit were French models Chloe (Salabianca), Vincent and Alexis who modelled for the sibling-labels philosophy-Men and Graffi-Tee respectively.

The photo shoot was completed within four days, and showcased several iconic backdrops in and around the city including the breathtaking Eiffel Tower, prestigious shopping boulevard Avenue des Champs-Elysees, world’s largest triumphal arch Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame Cathedral, famed for its French gothic architecture. Apart from the monuments, the team also took photographs at locations surrounding cafes, boulangeries and morning markets.

Gothic complement: A sleeveless chiffon top with flower embellishments and an embroidered scallop edge skirt add a softer feel.

The collection features their signature style – embellishments – such as embroidery, applique and beading. Favoured fabrics include silk, viscose, tafetta, cotton, knit and netting fabric. The colour palette revolved around black, white, blue and red. For accessories, pearls and silver were the preferred choice.

Dresses, blouses and skirts were beautifully adorned with beads and trimmings which salute France’s legacy of finer details. To further enhance skirts and blouses, Soon added luxurious floral motif French lace – a popular choice for bridal gowns.

Drawing inspiration from France’s architecture, he also cleverly incorporated Eiffel Tower patterned lace appliques on trendy T-shirt dresses and blouses.

Chiffon summer dresses, inspired by lavender fields in Paris’ provinces, gave a feminine accent to the collection.

Checkered blouses delivered a deliciously sophisticated look once paired with knit fabric short skirts. A sleeveless Pierrot inspired collared chiffon top with hand-sewn laser die-cut flowers and mini laces, and an embroidered scallop edge cotton skirt added a softer feel to Salabianca’s Oui Paris! collection.

Unmistakably French were a ruffled frou frou skirt and another netting fabric layered Mille feuille inspired skirt, which lent playful charm and hinted of romance in the outfits. Breton stripes in blue and white, featured prominently.

Interestingly, the traditional French puff pastry Mille Feuille (made in layers of crisp baked pastry separated by cream fillings) was what inspired Soon, 58, to incorporate stripes into the collection.

“Breton stripes are synonymous with designers like Jean Paul Gautier and Coco Chanel. It is very French and very ‘in’ this year,” said Chan.

Can can dancer prints reminiscent of Moulin Rogue days, together with images of sexy siren Bridget Bardot and legendary vocal powerhouse Edith Piaf complete the Parisian picture on T-shirts, pants, shorts and skorts (a pair of shorts with a flap in front that make it resemble a skirt). The collection also featured lace skull caps for those who want an edgier look.

Tromp l’oeil (visual illusion) play tricks on the senses with printed chains of pearls and strings of faux pearls on knit fabric dresses.

The Oui, Paris! collection is priced between RM79 and RM400, which Chan deems as really affordable.

“This is Salabianca’s interpretation of Paris. Consumers need not have to buy the latest designer clothes to be stylish. Buy something that you like, and be creative and confident in what you wear.

“Our outfits are reasonably priced as they feature embellishments and ornate detailing,” explained Chan.

Salabianca has also commissioned an artist to develop French object d’art like lampshades and Ottoman screens. There are also French memorabilia like the Eiffel tower (made from ornate chandelier crystals), scarves, iPhone covers, clocks, watches and photo-frames available in conjunction with the collection.

The Oui Paris! collection was launched yesterday at Suria KLCC. The trip and launch were made possible courtesy of Suria KLCC, Citibank, Omar Air, M.A.C Cosmetics, Evian Water and Albert Wines & Spirits. For details, browse salabianca.com.my or facebook.com/salabianca or call 03-4270 5711.

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