There was a buzz in the air at this year’s Mercedes-Benz Stylo Fashion Grand Prix Emerging Designers competition, an adrenaline rush of excitement as only happens when fashion meets cars.
Fostering a new age of emerging designers with exceptional talent and their own concepts of the avant-garde, these students of style stepped up to the plate to meet the challenge of this year’s theme, “Fashion Anarchy”.
The more than 100 participants from Malaysian colleges and universities — all vying for the chance to participate in Malaysian Fashion Week 2015 in November — were whittled down to 12 semi-finalists.
Each semi-finalist was given the task to put together three outfits, two of which were high fashion and one commercial, ready-to-wear piece.
Management and Science University (MSU) student Nur Syahira came out on top, winning first place for her artful, elegant pieces conceptually based on wearable art and inspired by the dualism in life.
Causing a stir among guests, the lights were switched off as her pieces were paraded on the runway to demonstrate a stark contrast between the silhouette and LED lights that were incorporated into her garments.
“There are many tangible dualities such as light and dark, fire and water, male and female, so I decided to use the lights in my garments to represent the light in our life against dark surroundings.
“Yin and yang are concepts used to describe how contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world and how they rise to meet each other,” said the young designer.
The semi-finalists’ individualistic approaches interpreting the subject matter shone through brilliantly with the use of materials made from discarded items such as rubber tyres, straws, bottle caps and spoons.
Semi-finalist from Jakarta, Indonesian Vinnie Lie styled her looks to symbolise “hunger” that in turn could cause anarchy.
Her statement on issues related to famine was made more pronounced with the use of empty sacks of rice as her fabric, and making tassels out of the bare unwoven threads of the gunnysacks.
Yam Yih Hui, on the other hand, said her pieces were modelled to the theme “Art of Distortion” based on body-altering apparel that women traditionally used to create illusions of a figure that conform to society.
“Instruments” such as crinoline cages, corsets and breast binding were fashioned into modern, asymmetrical lines using peephole rubber sheets, wires, latex and bandages to create stunning looks.
“My concept plays with the idea of freedom in the choice of clothes we want to wear to feel good, and at times because it is seen as normal in society,” she explained.
The main judges for the event were Mercedes-Benz Malaysia president and chief executive officer Roland Folger and Stylo International president and chief executive officer Datuk Nancy Yeoh.
“These young designers have poured their whole heart and their whole essence of being into their art.
“We feel it is an obligation and a huge opportunity to support these young designers in Malaysia, to be presented around the world in our fashion shows,” said Folger.
Completing the panel of judges were MyCreative Ventures chief investment officer Izwan Zainuddin, Encorp Strand Mall head Datin Sabrina Laila, A Cut Above Group of Salons and Academy chief creative director founder Datin Winnie Loo, designer Bon Zainal and Judy Raine, wife of Mercedes-Benz Malaysia marketing and sales vice-president Mark Raine.
Held at Encorp Strand Mall’s Red Carpet Avenue, the competition was part of a spectacular four-day fashion event organised in conjunction with the F1 Grand Prix in Sepang.
The Mercedes-Benz Stylo Fashion Grand Prix Emerging Designers competition began in 2010 and has since garnered a reputation internationally for discovering young talents, with a gifted few winning a spot in fashion weeks in Prague and Mexico City as part of Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s World Fashion Exchange with Stylo in 2012.