KUALA LUMPUR: Octogenarians Tam Chee Lion and wife Lim Kiat Neo raised eyebrows when they turned up at a KL Fashion Week workshop held at Cititel Hotel yesterday.
Tam, 87, and Lim, 80, who came with their daughters and a niece, were the oldest participants at the All Tied Up workshop.
It was decidedly a family outing for them, prompted by their desire to learn more about nyonya heritage, the art of tying sarongs and sarees, and beadworks.
I am getting old and forgetful and I would like to revive some of my good old memories, said nyonya matriarch Lim, who is intrigued about everything nyonya.
I have always liked to look beautiful and my favourite is nyonya kebaya. I am here to see if I can discover something new about my heritage.
Lim was even clad in a translucent olive green kebaya top and sarong to match the occasion.
Tam, a Cantonese, has over the years cultivated a liking for Straits Chinese culture, especially nyonya food, after being married to Lim for over 54 years.
It was a good idea to come for the workshop. I enjoyed it, said Tam.
Yesterdays workshop saw stage actress Pearlly Chua, a peranakan from Penang, sharing the historical development of nyonya kebaya dressing and ways to wear them, apart from tips on fabric care.
Her lively presentation and her skill in tying the sarong earned applause from the floor.
Chuas personal collection of antique kebayas including an intricate hand-made lacy camisole, a western-inspired floral prints kebaya and a siang-malam sarong also drew envy from some 80 participants.
After the talk, there was a demonstration by Amus Academy of Bridal and Beauty on ways to tie the saree.
The participants were thrilled to see how a five-metre-long material can be manipulated from traditional, formal to contemporary.
Amus Academy also gave out two sets of crushed-siphon sarees with beaded motifs to two lucky draw winners.
One of the winners, retired music lecturer Lucy Ong, said she would definitely try wearing the saree in a cocktail style learnt from the workshop.
Another demonstration by Tom Abang Saufi, a renowned contemporary-ethnic Sarawakian designer who specialises in sarong outfits, got all the participants out of their seats and started interacting on ways to tie the sarong, scarf and pareo into skirts, tops and dresses.
Tom brought along a team, comprising her sister, daughter and niece, to demonstrate the various styles that suit people of different sizes.
I purposely brought along people of S, M and L sizes, she said in jest, referring to her team.
After lunch, the workshop continued with a beadworks presentation from local designer Melinda Looi, who also shared with participants her creativity process and inspirations.
Movies are a great source of inspiration. I love period movies and those beautiful costumes from another era always set me thinking how to evolve, transform and renew, she said.