He was born and raised in Penang, but has since made his name globally. For Edmund Ooi, there is indeed no borders when it comes to fashion. Just look at where his job as a designer has landed him.
The 32-year-old first moved from Malaysia to Belgium and France, and now, China. He has worked with Parisian label Mugler and was even included on the Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list in 2017.
Ooi says that it started with him winning a scholarship from The Star Education Fund. After furthering his studies with Raffles Design Institute, he attended Antwerp’s Royal Academy Of Fine Arts.
“I landed a job at Mugler in Paris after that, but, I wanted to have something of my own, so I decided to launch my namesake label, which also brought me quite a lot of attention,” he relates.
“After my second collection, I was chosen by Mr. Armani to show in his Armani Teatro during Milan Fashion Week, which was the debut of my runway show. I then started showing in New York for a couple of seasons.”
He has never forgotten his roots though. His mother, who was a tailor, was the one who first inspired him to get into the fashion industry. He holds her lessons on garment construction close to his heart.
“In order to create clothes you need to understand clothes. I truly believe that, to be a designer, you need to have the knowledge of garment construction. Just like Azzedine Alaia or Cristobal Balenciaga,” he states.
Ooi is currently the senior creative director for EP Fashion – a China-based label that aims to define Chinese contemporary fashion. His designs walk the line between traditional and modern, as well as East and West.
He was recently in Kuala Lumpur to attend the launch of the EP Fashion Group’s first global store here, located in Suria KLCC. Ooi says his direction revolves around strong, contemporary, feminine and elegant women, especially those with ties to Chinese culture.
“We use a lot of elements that are the core of Chinese heritage, for example silk, embroidery techniques from ancient China, motives and stories from ancient China, and the Forbidden City,” he explains.
“What inspires me? Arts, people, things I see and feel around me. For now at EP, I am digging into the rich Chinese culture and what’s happening in the world at the moment.”
For the Spring/Summer 2019 collection in stores, he drew from a piece of Chinese blue and white porcelain that was commissioned by the Europeans to be made in China in the 18th century.
“We created an image of a goddess heading to sail in the open water, she’s a strong yet feminine woman. We used a lot of embroideries of peonies which is within the DNA of the label but done in a modern way.”