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Thursday August 2, 2012

Fusing old and new

With less than a month away to Raya, it’s time to start exploring fashion options.

AIDILFITRI is a time of joyous celebration, mixing fresh starts with festive sentiments.

As the festive mood sets in, it is time to start shopping for clothes. For those who want to welcome Raya with a new wardrobe, the choices are varied at local department stores and retailers.

Both kids are wearing long organdy kebaya with floral embroidery from Somerset Bay, Metrojaya. Both kids are wearing long organdy kebaya with floral embroidery from Somerset Bay, Metrojaya.

Vibrant vibe

Homegrown department store Parkson throws a zinger of a palette into its latest Raya fashion collection. Drawing inspiration from the wonderful shades of Mother Nature, the collection casts a nod to beautiful vibrant colours.

Bold and dramatic shades are not the only emphasis as detailing also take centre stage in the collection, weaving tradition, heritage and modernity together.

For her, it’s all about flows and swirling patterns that strike up vivid floral visual. From local designer Tom Abang Saufi’s caftans with dazzling abstract ethnic prints to the elaborate patterns on a Luire by Raden Sirait’s kebaya, the pieces in the collection cleverly fuse modern with traditional.

If anything, the clothes are testament that modest fashion can be carried with a sense of understated sophistication and effortless style.

With splashes of watercolour teals and aquamarine hues, a caftan dress by Variante is a throwback to classic feminine silhouettes.

On a sunflower-yellow caftan dress by Luire by Raden Sirait, the collar is adorned with intricate embellishments, providing a touch of theatrics to an otherwise simple outfit. For a dash of sultry femininity, a soft pink lacey kebaya by Amin Jauhary should do the trick.

The Parkson Raya collection also has some stylish offerings for guys. Those with a flair for masculine elegance can don a pair of baju Melayu with kain sampin and songket tenun that has amazing woven details.

Menswear brand Bac Medacena offers a dapper sky blue baju Melayu. Paired with a floral printed songket tenun, the ensemble exudes the right balance between fun and dapper formality.

For those who prefer something more casual, a nice bright coloured polo T from Lacoste will do the trick while keeping up with the festive spirit. – Chester Chin

(Left) On her a caftan from Luire by Raden Sirait. On him a baju Melayu from Bac Medacena and sampin from Emzn. (Left) On her a caftan from Luire by Raden Sirait. On him a baju Melayu from Bac Medacena and sampin from Emzn.

Eclectic choices

Metrojaya goes all out to please shoppers with its “Splendor of Raya 2012” collection. Its private label Somerset Bay is soft, feminine and contemporary, inspired by vintage elements and homespun lace.

Light fabrics ensure comfort in our tropical climate, with soft flowing prints, feminine silhouettes and details in gentle pastels.

Flare tiered skirts and long dresses go wild with colourful floral prints, with details of lace and embroidery.

For the young at heart, lifestyle label East India Company is all about casual comfort, offering warm natural tones and colours suitable for travel.

Fluid, soft and silky fabrics are blended, while embellishment, printed fabric, embroidery and modern patchwork form the brand’s essence.

Meanwhile, East meets West in Passages, a fusion concept with strong ethnic Oriental aesthetics. The line emphasises quality and comfort, projecting a sense of serenity.

The signature ethnic styles for men and women fit right into the battered suitcase as the clothes, mostly in cotton and linen, are lightweight.

The Raya 2012 collection “Passages to Morocco” is inspired by the unique art, culture and architecture of the city of Morocco. Capturing the exotic and colourful essence of Arabian Nights, colours include turquoise blue, lush green, summer tangerine and royal purple. – William K.C. Kee

Sarong affair

It’s amazing what a rectangle piece of cloth can be transformed into. For instance, the Romans had their toga, the Indians their sari, the Malays their sarong.

While to some it might be bewildering how something so ordinary has so many uses, the batik sarong in particular, has been around for generations and transcended time into modernity. Today, it looks just as right on the young fashionista as it does on an older woman.

Mayfair Designs loves romancing this most basic of garments. In fact, its very first involvement with Asian wear was inspired by the batik sarong. This unique piece of fabric has subsequently been turned into distinctive Chinese tops and dresses which Mayfair is well-known for.

<b>Inspired by nature:</b> The Parkson Raya
collection casts a nod to beautiful
vibrant colours. Head wrap is from Luire by Raden Sirait and caftan dress by Tom
Abang Saufi. Inspired by nature: The Parkson Raya collection casts a nod to beautiful vibrant colours. Head wrap is from Luire by Raden Sirait and caftan dress by Tom Abang Saufi.

According to founder and designer Leung Thong Ping, the simple shape not only shelters, but enhances the wearer. And to top it all, it never dates. “What’s not to like?” she quips.

For Mayfair’s Raya 2012 collection, the basic components of the Malay dress – the baju and sarong – which are essentially rectangle pieces of cloth, are reworked into interesting, stand-alone fashion statements.

Traditionally, Malay wear is sold in sets, but Mayfair begs to differ and insists on designing separates. Its versions of the baju and sarong are so versatile that they have “multiple lives”, and can be teamed with your existing wardrobe.

This way, you are only limited by your imagination as you can choose your personal theme, be it vintage, modern or sassy.

But if you really don’t want to bother about too much about how to co-ordinate your clothes, Mayfair also has suggestions on how to match them in sets. And because the designs are classic and timeless, Leung touts that they “last a lifetime”!

The clever choice of fabrics is also another of Mayfair’s key traits – the emphasis is on the finest cottons for tops, even for night, and slinky knits for the sarong.

This is because cotton is organic, feels good against your skin and makes you look young, and the slinky sarong adds oomph, says Leung.

The idea is to wear a classy cotton baju over a fluid sarong tube. You won’t need over the top sequined or embellishments, rather an elegant play of accessories should be enough to bring out the best in both clothes and wearer.

Leung has observed that Malaysian society becomes more and more ostentatious (thanks to our growing affluence), some clued-in women have figured that the best way to leave a lasting impression socially is to dress down in understated fashion. This is the same approach which Mayfair advocates.

In its Raya ready-to-wear collection this year, the sarong takes centre stage. This is set off with stylish cotton tops. The fluid sarong tapers off femininely, yet allow for comfort and big strides.

Mayfair’s bestseller is the elasticised keyhole sarong – plain, with vivid patterns or in dressy lace – which can also be pulled up to make a dress. This Raya they have added a roll-top sarong with the same dual life.

Indeed, the sarong has come a long way, from being a basic body wrap to a stylish all-purpose sheath.

Mayfair Designs’ Raya collection is priced from RM259. The boutique is located at Bukit Bintang Plaza, Kuala Lumpur. For details, call 03-2145 9936. – Patsy Kam

A classic ribbed cotton baju Kedah top over fluid keyhole skirt by Mayfair Designs. A classic ribbed cotton baju Kedah top over fluid keyhole skirt by Mayfair Designs.

Woman of all seasons

Inspired by the colours of the four seasons, couturier Melinda Looi has put her signature touch and colours into her ready-to-wear Raya collection.

The designer, who has been catering to Muslim customers with her Melinda Looi Couture collection for over a decade, has participated in the Islamic Fashion Festivals held in New York, London and Monte Carlo.

“I never really had a ready-to-wear Raya collection, but it is something I have been getting asked about by more and more people, so I guess it’s time!” says Looi, who is nominated for the World Fashion Awards to be held in New York next year.

The collection, entitled “4Seasons Aidilfitri”, consists of 12 modern interpretations of traditional Malaysian dresses. In addition to the matching head scarfs, which accompany some designs, the collection features headgear such as modern turbans and wraps.

Looi’s latest range captures the season’s colours in full glory, from the whites of winter to the lush greens of summer.

The different seasons, to the designer, represent the cycle of life – from birth to growth and then regeneration.

“Designs are soft and fluid, yet there is also a sense of strength denoting the ability to overcome adversity and start anew, like a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis,” enthuses Looi. The materials used complement the idea of fluidity, in the softest fabrics of chiffon, printed georgette, crepe, embroidered organza and lace.

With this collection, Looi hopes that all Malaysians will embrace the spirit of friendship and unity that is celebrated during Raya.

Priced from RM849 to RM1,399, 4Seasons Adilfitri is exclusively available at the Melinda Looi counter on the fourth floor of Parkson Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. – William K.C. Kee

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