Behind the seams


BY PHILIP AUGUSTINE

WITH the clock ticking and the pressure mounting, the 10 finalists of The Star Designer Awards 2004 are working feverishly to cut, stitch and put together their one-of-a-kind creations.  

Flying to Hong Kong for a week to do some serious fabric sourcing was well worth it for Fashion Design graduate Goh Shu Sien.  

“I bought a lot of thick wool-knit fabric as well as printed checks that are hard to find in Malaysia,” adds the 20-year-old whose Fashion Labyrinth collection was inspired by the ancient Silk Road and promises to be a fusion of multi ethnic cultures. 

Goh Shu Sien

“Reading fashion is like reading a map and just like culture, it (fashion) keeps changing and is different in every country and for every race,” says Shu Sien. 

Receiving valuable input and advice from her lecturers, the Raffles La Salle KL graduate says that the actual piecing together of outfits is a creative challenge.  

“Sewing is one of the most tedious procedures; you need a lot of patience because you cannot rush it if you want good results,” says Shu Sien who, just before a recent photo shoot of the 10 finalists and their creations, went without sleep as she spent the whole night sewing. 

Meanwhile, several days of bad weather put a slight damper on Mahathir Masri’s batik-making. 

“Rainy weather is never good especially if you want the fabric to dry properly and for the design to stick. My collection will consist mainly of batik designs,” says the 21-year-old from the Malaysian Institute of Art. 

Spices to enhance the creations.

With less than two months to generate a three-piece collection, Mahathir describes juggling his studies and working on his contest entry as “a miracle.” 

“Time management is essential. I’m fortunate to have the full support of all my lecturers, friends and family. I believe it is my responsibility to put all my efforts into meeting the high expectations I’ve set for myself,” adds the final-year Textile and Fashion Design student.  

Indeed, these finalists, shortlisted from 151 entries, have let their creativity and imagination run wild in their East Meet West-themed designs for casual, office, and evening wear. 

On his Spice Eze collection, Mahathir says inspiration struck while eating roti canai at a mamak stall. “I realised just how valuable spices have been throughout history and decided to do a lot of research to demonstrate the theme,” he says, adding that his fabrics will be 99% natural fibres. 

To add extra “flavour” to his designs, Mahathir will use spices, like cinnamon and star anise, in both accessories and garments.  

He says: “I want to have the pure and original aroma of spices and make them real in my collection.”  

One of the highlights of this year’s KL Fashion Week, The Star Designer Awards is held to discover and develop new Malaysian talents in the field of fashion. 

Failing to make it to the top 10 in last year’s competition only spurred Fashion and Retail Design student Yee Chia Hui to work harder and come up with even better designs this year. She plans to blend Chinese and western cultures in her Glamorous collection. 

Using a variety of soft fabrics such as satin, silk and chiffon, she describes her work as being “very ladylike” and “very glamorous.”  

“With a predominantly white base, I’ll be using lots of Chinese floral colours and prints in red, green and yellow,” says the LimKokWing University College of Creative Technology student. 

While stress is definitely a factor in any competition, the 19-year-old welcomes the challenge. “It’s a lot of fun learning more things about the industry that I hope to be part of in the near future. I’ve learnt to look at the commercial side of fashion and the different marketing strategies used to make people appreciate artwork.” 

The top 10 were chosen based on originality, creativity, consistency, relevance to concept and wearability. 

The panel of judges includes fashion and design corporate consultant Gillian Hung, fashion stylist Victor Goh, V Mag deputy chief editor Chan Wai Kit, Padini Holdings creative director C.Y. Cheong and designer Radzuan Radziwill. 

The competition is being held in conjunction with KL Fashion Week 2004, which is organised by The Star, presented by L’Oreal and supported by the Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry. 

The first prize is RM8,000, a certificate, a trophy and a one-week study award in Fashion Design and Marketing at the renowned Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design, London. 

The first runner-up will get RM5,000, a certificate, trophy and one-week study award, also at Central St Martin’s College, while the second runner-up will receive RM3,000, a certificate and a trophy. 

There are seven consolation prizes of RM1,000 and a certificate each.  

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