DID you know that world-renowned designer Yves St Laurent's prodigious talent was “discovered” when he bagged first prize in the International Wool Secretariat's fashion competition in 1954? Other famous designers who have won awards in the same contest include Karl Lagerfeld and Valentino.
Closer to home, Zang Toi astounded his peers by taking out the Mouton-Cadet Young Designers Award in 1991, while Melinda Looi's talents were recognised when she won the Best Collection Award at the Asia Pacific Young Fashion Designers Show in 2000.
The Star Designer Awards 2003 might well be the launching pad for yet another home-grown fashion maven. Themed, City Days, City Nights, the competition offers a cash prize of RM5,000 for first place, a certificate and a beautiful challenge trophy.
Aimed at stimulating creativity and unearthing new talent, the contest is open to Malaysian residents between the ages of 17 and 30. Each contestant is required to present a collection of five designs – casual wear, active wear, office wear, evening wear and an avant-garde piece.
Star Publications (M) Bhd marketing services manager Iris Tan says the contest will provide a platform for new designers to showcase their talent.
“We are in search of budding, talented fashion designers. Through the awards we hope to acknowledge and award outstanding and creative designs.”
She says the portfolio of five designs would give contestants a chance to show the full range of their creativity with round-the-clock attire most suited for Malaysian tastes.
“All garments must be commercially viable and wearable. However, for the avant-garde piece, contestants are free to experiment with fabrics, colours and cutting. “
Contestants are required to send in five sketches – one of each design illustrated on A3-size paper. The designs must be in colour and should be mounted on a mounting board.
Students at Carven Fashion School are among those expected to take part in the awards.
School director Carven Ong says he always encourages his students to take part in design competitions. “It's a chance for design students to gain valuable experience. In Malaysia, there are not many competitions like this that give students a chance to display their talents.”
He adds that in line with the trend towards wearable women's fashion, the emphasis in Star Designer Awards 2003 is on practical designs, from elegant to sporty.
The school in Jalan Panggong, Kuala Lumpur, is expected to submit about 30 entries for the contest. Ong says the contest is in line with the school's mission to have “qualified and quality fashion designers.”
“There is more demand for fashion designers now and fashion design has a bright future. I think competitions like this also help to make the career more visible to the general public,'' says Ong who set up his school 12 years ago.
Among the programmes offered at the school are Computer Fashion Designing, Merchandising, Cutting & Tailoring diploma and certificate courses.
Students from La Salle International Design School are also all set to send loads of entries to Star Designer Awards 2003.
Fashion design lecturer Ana Maria Sanchez says that although some students volunteered to take part, she also chose those who would have more time to devote to the project.
“Students have developed their concepts and are now busy doing the sketches. My job is to guide them and give them advice.”
Kate Yong has taken part in a few contests so far but has yet to win. “I'm really excited as Star Designer Awards 2003 is the first competition of its kind to be held at a national level and has received such huge publicity. I personally enjoyed working on casual wear and sports wear.”
Another La Salle student, Zucca Tan, took a trip to Malacca to do research on Baba-Nyonya-inspired evening wear. “It's elaborate but classic. I really want Malaysian designs to take their place on the world fashion stage,'' she says.
A total of 10 entries from the portfolios submitted will be shortlisted. The finalists will be required to attend a preview session with the judges.
A panel of distinguished judges from the industry will judge entries. In line with the competition's two stages there are two criteria for judging.
For stage one, the focus will be on creativity, originality, interpretation, relevance to design concept and commercial viability.
Entries from the 10 contestants selected for the second and final stage will be judged on consistency of design concept, workmanship, detailing, choice of fabrics, use of accessories and overall styling.
The final selection will be made at a fashion show to be held in conjunction with Fashion Fair Kuala Lumpur 2003 on April 26 and 27 at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre.
The closing date for entries is March 7. For enquiries, call 03-7967 1241/1642. Entries should be mailed to: The Star Designer Awards 2003, c/o Marketing Services Department, Star Publications (M) Bhd, P.O. Box No. 9116, Pejabat Pos Kelana Jaya, 46788 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan.