GURNEY Paragon Mall kicked off Penang Fashion Week 2018 with a glitzy opening gala that celebrated creative and trendy couture.
Impressing once again was Taiwanese accessories designer Illiza Ho with her Autumn/Winter 2018 range.
It comprised a dozen leather bags, half of them for men. Exuding unisex vibes, they came in yellow, navy blue, burgundy red, dark green and black.
Kuala Lumpur-based Ho and 16 other designers also made special pieces for the debut of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Gold campaign in Malaysia.
Launched in the United Kingdom, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Singapore and Spain previously, the campaign sees designers celebrating the iconic animated character in one-of-a-kind creations.
Ho’s bag utilised handmade detailing to recreate the sea sponge’s face while others unveiled garments with gilded embellishments or prints.
Claire O’Connor, vice-president of consumer products and retail marketing for Viacom International Media Networks in Asia, said the character would celebrated its 20th anniversary next year.
“This is the largest showing of fashion designers undertaking SpongeBob Gold creations on a single runway in the world,” she said.
Hunza Group executive director Khor Tze Ming said the event had grown to become one of the country’s premier fashion showcases.
“It is an incubator for emerging fashion design talents and a platform for established designers and brands to show their best collections.
“Every April, we all gather from near and far to admire outfits that are works of art. This year, we have 25 shows over nine days,” said Khor.
The gala on Saturday also featured spring and summer looks curated from seven brands under luxury lifestyle retail group Valiram, namely Michael Kors, Kate Spade New York, La Martina, Tory Burch, Tumi, Pedro, and Charles & Keith.
It was also a homecoming of sorts for Penang-born Paris-based designer Jonathan Liang who showcased a range inspired by Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s 2004 feature film ‘Innocence’.
Utilising fragile silhouettes with embroidery and lace to explore the beauty of adolescence and maturity, the gowns had a palette that transitioned from pastels to blacks.
“There’s a sense of nostalgia returning here and reconnecting with the island,” said Liang.
Fellow Malaysian Bon Zainal, known for dapper menswear, thrilled with a collection that celebrated Asian heritage with bold and rugged looks.
He combined cotton, denim and linen with Songket, Cheongsam fabrics and silk from China. Unusually, two outfits were crafted for the ladies.
“The industry in Europe is crazy about Asian fabrics,” said Zainal.
Taiping native Carven Ong unveiled garden-themed gowns imbued with sophistication.
“Gowns need not only be proper. They can be alluring too,” said Kuala Lumpur-based Ong.
Hong Kong’s Kev Yiu, who counts celebrities among his clientele, showed off a capsule collection of his best pieces from over the years.
Based on traditional silhouettes, it incorporated materials like lace, satin, tulle and glitter, to create contemporary looks.
“I like making evening gowns unique and memorable,” said Yiu, who urged Asian fashion designers to support each other.
The opening gala also featured a performance by Ning Baizura and appearances by Taiwan-based actor Hero Tai, veteran Hong Kong actress Petrina Fung Bo Bo and Miss Universe Malaysia 2018 Jane Teoh.
Also present were Hunza Group founder Datuk Seri Khor Teng Tong, managing director Datuk Khor Siang Gin and executive directors Khor San Leng and Lily Tan.
Penang Fashion Week 2018 continues until April 22 with runway shows lined up daily.
For updates and more details, follow the mall’s Facebook page.