IF you’ve been wondering who’s behind the headband explosion among the style set in Kuala Lumpur, it can only be Sereni & Shentel. The brand has fabulous headbands with giant bows and crystals that add an instant pop to an outfit or jazz up a hairstyle.
According to its founders, Sarawakians Sereni Linggi and Shentel Lee, it started from a shared love of headbands.
“Kuching is a small city and although we both travel a lot there were many weekends when we found ourselves with simply nothing to do. We both love handmades and decided one weekend to make some for a Lady Gaga concert that we were going to attend in Singapore in August 2009.
“The reaction we received from the concert crowd was overwhelming. We were bombarded by photographers and Singaporeans asking us where we got our headbands from. Shentel even made it into the newspapers the next day for the headband that we made.”
However, it wasn’t until they created hair accessories for a Tatler magazine shoot in the Philippines a month later that the girls became serious about setting up business.
When Sereni met hair guru Kim Robinson, he praised their range. That was when they decided to start an online store.
The gals describe their collection as “feminine, fun, quirky and just a little bit fancy”. And what makes their colourful and unusual accessories stand out is their “decoration without explanation” approach.
Each piece is handmade in Borneo and they get their inspiration from the Internet.
“We are simply addicted to the Net,” they say. “We love that you can get visual references at a click of a button. We follow blogs, Twitter and Facebook religiously and read online magazines through zinio.com as it is the fastest way to get overseas publications.
“A lot of our inspiration also comes from our mothers and our visual mood board that we create from clippings and bits and pieces that find their way into our bags during our travels.”
Of course, their personal styles influence their designs as well. Sereni’s style is eclectic – she goes through phases, depending on her inspiration of the week, which could be anything from a colour pencil to the weather. At the moment she is obsessed with Jill Sander’s SS2011 block colours in the mornings; but at tea time it’s all about grey and yellow chiffon prints.
Shentel, on the other hand, is extremely girly. Always in a dress and ballet flats, her look is often very Charlotte from Sex in the City and her favourite designers are Collette Dinnigan, Kate Spade, DVF and Thian (the creator of Gallo).
“We both constantly and unwittingly think of new designs all the time. Some get created, and some just get laughed at and are forgotten. Our best designs come after a massive design fails,” they add.
Their collection isn’t seasonal, but they have new pieces every season and mid-season. Currently they have 11 different designs of hair accessories available in various colours, either on a grosgrain or satin base.
Their signature look is rhinestones, which can be found on all their designs except the Block Party collection.
There is also Garlands, headbands with semi-precious stones that can also be worn as necklaces and bracelets.
The brand has just launched a limited edition collection in collaboration with Lancome called French Kiss, are available from selected Lancome counters in Fuchsia, Baby Pink, Cream and Purple.
The must-have item from their collection?
“A Kuching Cat. It was the first headband we created together. We designed it to stand out from the crowd. You are not the least bit subtle when adorned with one which is what our philosophy is all about – be seen or GO HOME!”
Pocketful of colour
The desire to close the gap between high-end luxury and accessible luxury was what made Tengku Nadia Azrina Tengku Amran come out with her own bag label, called Saku (which means pocket in Bahasa Malaysia).
It all started when she came home after completing her studies abroad.
“I noticed a gap in the Malaysian market for accessible luxury in well-crafted leather fashion accessories. This realisation soon become an obsession and spurred me to offer something new to the market.
“With my love for creating and crafting beautiful things, and the local market being ready, things fell into place. In 2009 Saku was born, offering accessible luxe, handcrafted pieces for everyday occasions.”
The exotic skin, calf and leather bags come in seasonal ranges; there are also those for specific occasions, with names like “Day”, “Night” and “Play”. Each collection has clutches, shoulder bags, wristlets and weekenders, and can be worn from day to night.
“There are five designs per collection and they are all made in very limited quantities. This maintains a level of exclusivity, which our customers love. All Saku bags are crafted from leather and exotic skins, a material that can be crafted and finished in a variety of ways while maintaining its luxe feel and image.”
Describing the label as a “multi dimensional with pieces that are playfully chic yet edgy” Nadia says all the designs strongly emphasise the natural textures of the skins used and are timeless.
This year, it is introducing namecard holders and iPad covers which can be personalised with one’s initials.
“My inspiration comes from a myriad of things, from a muse a bag is named after, to things I see and experience, my favorite music. Even memories of significant treasured moments can kickstart the design process.”
Her personal look also plays; her style is classic with a twist, and eclectic with accents on accessories. This is reflected in her designs through the silhouettes, colours and textures.
For this season, Saku has the Tribal clutch from the SS2011 Candy Collection, with intricate motifs in patent and suede. It is inspired by candies and lollies with their symphony of colours. “The Candy Collection reintroduces Saku’s classic silhouettes in pops of colours which will brighten up any outfit while adding a playful and very chic feel to your days and nights,” Nadia says.
Sereni & Shentel is available at sereniandshentel.com; prices start at RM50. Saku is available at saku.my and at Maizen, 112, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. Prices start at RM150.