Style Watch: Singer-songwriter Zee Avi stays colourfully Malaysian


The way she curates her outfits is as Malaysian as it comes. Lots of prints, eclectic and with a richness mirroring our diverse culture. Photo: Zee Avi

We have all heard Zee Avi sing when she made her big debut in United States back in 2009. But have you ever paid attention to the way she dresses?

While she has journeyed around the world and back again to Malaysia, her personal style remains a beautiful constant.

The way she curates her outfits is as Malaysian as it comes. Lots of prints, eclectic and with a richness mirroring our diverse culture.

Photo: Zee AviPhoto: Zee AviCurrently based in Kuala Lumpur, Zee is finding comfort in dressing the way she wants.

Read more: Style Watch: Malaysian model Sheena Liam on owning your fashion choices

And she is no stranger to fashion. Before she had her big break in the music industry, she was actually studying fashion design in London.

The 35-year-old Sarawakian songstress believes in being herself, and of course, to not subscribe to trends.

She stands out for it too. Her dressing can be seen as bravely rebellious. She mixes prints and colours with abandon, not caring what others may think.

As far as fashion is concerned, Zee relishes in spreading warmth and good cheer – emulating the very spirit that defines our Malaysian way of living.

How would you describe your personal style? Are you perhaps a more laidback chic kind of person? Or do you have a glamorous persona?

I would say that it’s an equal mix of both. I also thrift, and prefer vintage clothing mostly. Some people have described my recent style as “70s”. Though sometimes it’s more towards “I’m in a rush! What do I have in my closet right now that’s not wrinkly?!”. I can say my style adjusts and evolves based on where I am physically and geographically. Also, comfort is key.

How much does fashion factor in your life and career? Are you the same person, on and off camera?

As a performer, it’s quite a big part of what I do. Especially in a time where everyone and everything is very much aesthetic-conscious. At home, I live in my baju kelawar (kaftan) or sarung batik and I’m usually sporting a messy bun. These days, my style has been more kaftan and bun.

Photo: Zee AviPhoto: Zee Avi

Who (or what) is your style inspiration?

Culture. I look to (performers) Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Lenny Kravitz. Or Sarawakian motives and beads – as well as any cultural accessories that were gifted to me or findings from my travels. It is because I am drawn towards patterns, textures and colours! I love composing an ensemble that tells a story and I love experimenting with my outfits, sometimes even pairing them with colourful wigs to create back stories of these different personas.

Read more: Style Watch: Malaysian jewellery designer Jenn Low on staying comfortably chic

What are your top fashion tips?

Don’t worry about trends. Fashion has always been a statement, an expression. If you decide to don any pieces of heritage, it would help if you have interesting knowledge of its history and tales, so that you will cherish and respect it more. All in all, have fun! Wear those colours! Clash those prints!

Photo: Zee AviPhoto: Zee Avi

What are the essential style items that you simply can’t do without?

My Pungu Borneo necklace, my eyeliner and oh, the most important accessory of all – a smile.

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