KUALA LUMPUR: Young designers are giving dashes of modern cuts and styles to the traditional kebaya in a competition designed to bring the classic attire into the mainstream of fashion.
The first of four weekly heats for the contest, billed as Kebaya, The Interpretations, started here yesterday with six designers showing off their creations at the gallery before a jury comprising fashion critic Datuk Lim Siew Lay, designer Melinda Looi and Mahani Awang of Rias magazine, a fashion publication of the Utusan Melayu group.
They are among 58 contenders who will vie for 12 short-listed placings for the Grand Finale at the Shangri-la Hotel here on April 20.
The competition is being held in conjunction with the two-month Nyonya Kebaya Collection exhibition at the National Art Gallery here which started on Feb 23.
Part of the colourful display of the exhibition was a showcase of nyonya kebaya outfits and accessories belonging to Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood, wife of Acting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The displays were a big hit with the wives of the heads of governments who attended the recently-concluded Non-Aligned Movement Summit here.
Endon was among the guests who attended yesterday’s heats at the National Art Gallery.
Contestants from the Malaysian Institute of Art and the SML Academy of Fashion showed off their creations.
The first heat of the Kebaya, The Interpretations competition generally displayed an interesting balance of modern chic and traditional elements, while staying true to Malaysian fashion tastes.
Endon, who has been a passionate advocate of the nyonya kebaya, said recently that the garment was entering yet another period of glory in the fashion world.
She, however, declined to comment about the heats, when asked.