Malaysia is a melting pot of ethnicity, culture and heritage. The country’s print motifs and woven fabrics, such as batik and songket, are gaining attention on international runways.
In an effort to strengthen the country’s position as a fashion hub for the South-East Asia region and the world, the organisers of Malaysia Fashion Week 2016 (MFW 2016), Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and Stylo International, are sending 10 Malaysian designers to Paris as part of this year’s Malaysia Fashion Week Global Launch event.
This year, the global launch of MFW in Paris will be uniquely held on board the River’s King boat located at Escale de Grenelle along the River Seine.
The 10 talents will showcase their designs to guests including international celebrities, trade buyers, fashion agents and media from the European region.
Malaysia will be the only country from the South-East Asia region to showcase its designs during the renowned Paris Fashion Week, from Sept 27 to Oct 5.
The 10 designers will present their Ready-to-Wear Spring Summer 2017 collection through the fashion shows taking place on the boat itself on Sept 28.
They will also be meeting fashion buyers at the Maria Callas Suite at the Paris Hilton Opera.
The design labels that will be showcased in Paris are Bon Zainal, Jo Disaya, Bill Keith, Keith Kee, Fizi Woo, Tanoti, Sakura Malaysia, Ruzz Gahara, Porosus and Toi-The Dressmakers.
One of the 10 design labels, Tanoti, will be highlighting the Sarawak songket.
The brand’s co-founder Jacqueline Fong said the brand contemporises Sarawak songket into high-fashion fabric and accessories.
“We contemporise Sarawak songket and make it high fashion. We want to preserve the unique songket prints and make it relevant for users,” she said.
Fong added the brand’s weavers, artisans and designers were all from Sarawak.
The teaching and learning of the Sarawakian art is based on mentor-mentee coaching and some of the weavers are local farmers, Fong added.
She hoped the brand could join the couture market after participating at the Paris Fashion Week.
“We have also revolutionised our songket prints into leather and we hope to showcase them as well,” she said.
Keith Kee said he was thrilled to be chosen to represent the country in Paris.
“I have been waiting all this while for such an opportunity,” said Kee, who won the Mercedes-Benz Stylo Asia Fashion Festival 2016, Best Showcase Designer of the Year 2016 award.
Kee said his designs emphasised curves as he believes all body shapes could be dressed to look their best in glamorous and luxurious wear. He too loves songket and his favourite is Kelantan songket.
Kee has designed several garments for the show in Paris using Kelantan songket, mixed with other materials such as French lace.
His collection’s colour palletes are based on the twilight hour.
“My garment collections would be in the shades of colours seen during the sunset hours up to nightfall,” he said.
Kee hoped to learn as much as he could during his trip to Paris.
“I have been in the fashion industry for 15 years but I am still open to opportunities such as this. They have provided us a good platform to present our talents in the international arena,” he said.
Matrade chief executive officer and Malaysia Fashion Week chairman Datuk Dzulkifli Mahmud said these designers were ready for global audiences and have the capability to stand out in the global fashion industry.
He said there had been similar participation by the country’s designers at former international fashion weeks in the past three years.
Some of them have gained popularity and success since.
He cited fashion labels such as Blancheur, which managed to penetrate the China market.
The brand was also invited to participate at the upcoming Arab Fashion Week next month. He hopes for more success stories in the future.
“We hope Paris will help provide them a platform to be recognised by potential business partners or collaborations from the European market,” he said.
Also present at the press conference were Embassy of France Co-operation and Cultural Affairs Counsellor Jean-Pierre Galland, Elite Expo Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Johnson Lim, The Hot Shoe Show and Co chief executive officer Lee Mark, Malaysian French singer and recently appointed principal of Akademi Fantasia 2016 Datuk Sheikh Abdullah Ahmad Bakhbereh or better known as Datuk Shake.
The Malaysia Fashion Week is an annual event organised by Matrade, together with Stylo International.
Held every year in November at the Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre, MFW is the largest fashion and lifestyle trade platform in the country.