YOUNG, up and coming Malaysian designers were given a platform to display their creative talent at the Fashion Colleges Showcase during KL Fashion Week 2003.
The event saw three fashion schools – LaSalle International Design School, Limkokwing University College of Creative Technology (LUCCT), and Malaysia Institute of Art (MIA) – come together in a collaboration of beauty and style to highlight the works of their best designers.
Each fashion school presented a collection, ranging from casual to chic and evening wear to avant garde, with many creations worthy of praise.
MIA kicked off the show with huge speakers blaring Fatboy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now as models sashayed down the runway in eye-popping designs that oozed femininity. From bare midriffs to low-slung hipsters, slits and pleats, the collection progressed to evening gowns of wanton glamour in ethnic and old school themes.
Among the most eye-catching designs was a “one nation”-inspired gown with a big embroidered eye in the middle and peacock feathers for a headpiece.
Aptly named “Ma.Chi.In” for Malay-Chinese-Indian, the outfit was both elegant and exotic. The gown’s creator, student designer Ricky Wong Chee Leong, says he got the idea for his unique show-stopper while performing as a dancer for Merdeka Day celebrations.
“KL Fashion Week is a great opportunity for many to be exposed to fellow designers and share new ideas and information,” says the 25-year-old, who is completing a three-year fashion diploma course at MIA.
Classy and sophisticated are words to describe a white 1920s-inspired flapper dress that shimmered with every step. Together with a hat and long, dangly pearls, the ensemble achieved a classic and timeless look.
Another crowd favourite was a white wedding gown with big hoops under the skirt, reminiscent of the Victorian era. The design accentuates the waist and complements the simpler, clean-cut lines of the dress.
LUCCT came on the scene with its own collection, themed Retro ala Dior. First on the runway was the award-winning “Kebaya” by student designer Daniel Chong. His creation of a bright-green knitted top matched with a short fluffy skirt bagged the top prize at the recently concluded Kebaya: The Interpretations fashion competition.
Leather, silk and denim were the mainstay for many of the outfits. In keeping with the theme, flared pants (a hark back to the 1970s) were combined with silky tops and glittery tassels. Materials were mixed and matched to create a somewhat “disco” feel.
Off-the-shoulder gowns with short fluffy trains looked very 80s, while leather, denim and feathers were incorporated for a more modern and hip appearance.
Highlighting the work of 15 student designers, the Limkokwing collection took three months to put together.
The aggressive, unorthodox creations were modelled by students, making them look more realistic or “wearable”.
The collection’s darling of the press was a single strapped dress in deep red worn with knee-high black leather boots and a unique hooded shawl.
Brilliant colours, a wide array of fabrics, attention to hair and make-up and funky music rendered the collection vibrant, youthful and sophisticated.
“Young people are much more conscious of what they wear and how they look,” says Es Azren, head of LUCCT’s Fashion Department, adding that students have become bolder with their designs and not as constrained as before.
LaSalle International Design School took to the catwalk with its “Ethnic Urbanite Philanthropy” collection.
The first half of the collection comprised mostly skimpy two-piece outfits in earth tone brown/beige leather, complete with matching high-heel boots (think Pocahontas in boots!).
The only men’s collection in the entire showcase was among the highlights of LaSalle’s second half offerings.
Impressive indeed were the huge pink flower prints on white silky cloth that served as the motif for all the different evening gowns that flowed gracefully and clung beautifully to the female form.
The men’s collection – though casual with white slip-on sandals, chest-baring shirts and thigh-hugging pants all in the same white-and-pink floral print – bore understated sensuality and class.
Classy-looking models added immensely to the appeal of LaSalle’s entire collection.
Student designer Kate Yong Wai Teng, of LaSalle, believes that Malaysian fashion is evolving, albeit slowly.
“KL Fashion week is a very good start to encourage many local designers to become more adventurous and explore other designs,” says the 22-year-old who has an affinity for 21st century fashion.
LaSalle’s International Design School general manager Mok Kam Wah says the success of the Fashion Colleges Showcase is a testament to the immense talent of Malaysia’s young designers.
“We have a lot to be proud off with our young designers and there is a lot of potential and room for growth,” he adds