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Monday, May 14, 2007


Brocade and songket from the Noor Arfa label made a splash.

At the the annual Malaysian Official Designers' Association show, S.S. YOGA discovered some gems - and some discards.

ARE you a fan of trains? And by that, I don't mean moving carriages. Trains, in this instance, refer to that long piece of cloth that trails a gown.

At the recent Malaysian Official Designers' Association (MODA) 2007 show, dubbed Fashion Gateway, trains ruled the night. And what's a Malaysian fashion show without lots of chiffon, sequins and embellishments? There was also plenty of metallic shine.

Designers Michael Ong, Orson Liyu, Carven Ong and Amanda Brown, among others, came up with their own variations of the train. Some chose to create unusual versions.

Dominique Chan, last year's debutant, showed off a voluminous gown but thankfully, departed from his usual bride in white. His creations were satin chocolate brown with white motifs that stood out.

Orson Liyu's train and his pure black creations were stunning. It clearly illustrated that good fashion sense lies in the cut and structure, and one doesn't need excessive detailing to win over the buyer. He also incorporated draping and wrap styles in his capes.

That was another technique used by quite a few of the designers in the show. Amanda Brown continued her flirtation with denim, while Bon Zainal took his inspiration from James Bond and came up with debonair suits for men and women.

For a moment, it seemed that the Looi sisters had made a pact and fused some of their signature looks into each other's designs. Beatrice's glamorous gowns, all in black, had touches of embroidered details that were more Melinda-like while Melinda's usual Gothic, earthy ethereal look was somewhat toned down and more commercial. Many of the designers favoured black or white, or dashes of both in their designs. Jonathan Cheng's creations were all white with a dash of black. They were playful and very 50s. Lester Wong opted for ochre coloured creations with metallic bits thrown in for that extra sparkle. Michael Ong, on the other hand, painted the town red with his dramatic chiffon numbers.

Since Datuk Tom Abang Saufi has gone British just like fellow Datuk, Bernard Chandran, she no longer banks on her trademark pua motifs. Her designs were more urban contemporary, and her mostly black and white outfits were very current and wearable.

Daniel Cho got the crowd roaring especially with his male model in a skimpy pair of trunks but that's Cho - always the showman. And talking about showmanship, the night belonged to Richard Tsen who adopted the avant-garde approach with his take on the flapper look with what appeared like huge curled wood shavings. Accompanied by a singer, it certainly won the crowd over with a sporting Tsen doing a jig at the end. If this were Designer Idol, he would definitely be safe for the next round.

We've had some hideous and yucky creations from a "cyber" designer before so perhaps Cherman Woon wanted to show him a thing or two with his version of futuristic wear.

Anita Sarawak probably inspired Bill Keith, so if you think you have a bit of "Anita" in you, you know what to wear. This is not some small-time local awards show so you would think that designers should know that they are not designing for some minor starlet.

Last year, a particular designer brought out clothes that seemed more at home in the pasar malam (night market). Although his creations looked a little better this year, they weren't anything to shout about.

Some of our local designers appear to be stuck in a rut. Rather than using the same formula all the time, they should think out of the box if they hope to take things to the next level.

An interesting capsule collection by Heidi Koh, last year's winner of the Malaysian Young Designers' Competition (MYDC), kicked off the night's events and this was followed by a single creation from this year's 12 finalists. Yee Kar Juen's edgy yet very wearable raw knit creation won the award. He also took home the total look prize.

Thirty designers were involved in the showcase. A showing by eight brands was held before the main event. This showcase put some of the individual designers' efforts to shame. It was good that each designer only exhibited three to four outfits. Otherwise, it would have been excruciating.

Jarumas did pretty well, demonstrating that there are stylish and elegant options for modern Muslim women. The traditional baju from Noor Arfa, which had songket and brocade put to good use, produced lovely results.

Sarawakian label, Von Jolly, saw imaginative use of colour and the Renaissance-inspired gown was a knockout with its many shades and elaborate embroidery. It was also good to see Jendela Batik showing off two non-batik outfits from their men's wear line, proving they're not just all about batik.

Zang Toi ended the night with a set of classy lilac numbers.

Design by Beatrice Looi.(left)
Inspired: Orson Liyu come up with one of the best night.

Go with the flow:
Dominique Chan makes another impressive statement.

Daniel Chong's suede creation.

Minimalist approach:
You can always count on designer Daniel Choo to make the audience go 'whoa'.



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