Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ladies go crazy for flowers at Ascot

Rosey ... ladies go crazy for flowers at Ascot
Rosey ... ladies go crazy for flowers at Ascot

THERE were some very bizarre hats on display at Royal Ascot's famous Ladies Day. Designs went flower power crazy, as many channelled the recent Sex & The City film with oversized blooms.

Butterflies also loomed large - with many choosing huge representations of the insects as head gear. Contrasting coloured feathers were another popular choice for those who wanted elegance above all else.

But for those choosing to make a statement in the style stakes, taste was left firmly out of the equation. One racegoer went for a full-on Marie Antoinette inspired wig, complete with ruffled Courtesan dress.

While another chose to have a version of the Jodrell Bank telescope made out of fuschia pink silk and strapped to her coiffed hair. But the most classic designs beat the outlandish. Black and cream outfits topped with bright hats were the most popular choices of the day.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cat's style

CAT DEELEY is doing it for Brits abroad, building up a style worthy of a spread in US Vogue. The TV star looked a real blue-belle in this bandeau dress at a recent Fox Upfront event in New York. And she seems to have kicked off a trend, with celebs galore opting to go electric in the shade stakes. Natalie Portman and footie WAGs Alex Curran and Coleen McLoughlin have all been feeling blue too – it must be catching.

CREDITS: Cat's outfit: Dress, £565, Phillip Lim; shoes, £370, Sergio Rossi; bag, £450, Mulberry

Monday, June 2, 2008

YSL designs on the red carpet

YVES SAINT LAURENT once said: “To be beautiful, all a woman needs is a black pullover, a black skirt and to be arm-in-arm with a man she loves.”

During an incredible FIFTY-YEAR career the man who became known simply as YSL gave women freedom by opening up a whole new style of dressing.

His death on Sunday from a brain tumour was announced by the 71-year-old’s former partner Pierre Berge, who described him as a “true creator”.

But to women his breathtaking designs meant so much more.

Stars including Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have all worn YSL designs on the red carpet.

Wags Coleen McLoughlin and Alex Curran shop til they drop for the latest YSL accessories, including £450 Tribute shoes and £1,160 Downtown tote.

But his greatest triumph was the trouser suit, which he made famous after dressing Bianca Jagger in a revealing white design for her marriage to Mick back in 1971.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rojak Fashion ?

Vietnamese designer Pham Nguyen Hoang Thien Toan’s
collection was inspired by traditional values and the bamboo.

When Asian motifs cross-fertilise with Western styles at a Berlin fashion fair, the results can be a rather weird, yet appetising, new dish.

IT wasn’t quite Zhang ZiYi’s memorable dance from Memoirs of a Geisha. But the opening geisha dance to kick off InFashion during the Asia-Pacific Week 2007 in Berlin clearly hinted at the exotic appeal of the east.

For three days in late autumn last year, Kosmos, a preserved cinema along Karl-Marx Allee in former East Berlin was turned into a fashion catwalk.

For the first time during a German fashion fair, 20 promising fashion designers from China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand were invited to showcase their work in Berlin. There was a clear exchange of influences, in line with InFashion’s goal of highlighting how Asian and Berlin fashion designers were inspiring each other.

Rather than focusing on successful Asian designers such as Tokyo-born Rei Kawakubo (who has 300 Comme des Garcons stores worldwide) or Korean-American Doo-ri Chung (proclaimed as among the most talented of the new generation of designers) the organisers wanted only fresh, unknown designers.

Chinese designers dominated the catwalk, as there were eight of them out of the invited 20. Some of the parades down the catwalk were such a mad mix of styles they became a spectacle for the wrong reasons.

There were extravagant Oriental inspired flows of Chinese silks in lavish gowns worthy to be showcased in Curse of the Golden Flower. Shanghai designer Qu Tingnan combined extravagant Chinese embroidery with the pomposity of European ball gowns.

Then there was Beijing designer Chu Yan whose frothy layers of silk were draped over sequined swimwear-like apparel. There was even a stuffed baby panda perched over the shoulder of a Scottish Highland-inspired checked kilt. Strange? Yes. Inspiring? No.

InFashion was organised by Berlin-based company Fashion Patrons and supported by fashion school Esmod Germany and The House of World Cultures. Since early last year, a search was launched to find promising fashion designers from Asia Pacific.

“Through the Goethe Institutes in Asian cities, we received 150 applications. We chose 20 designers whom we believe represent the new fashion face of Asia,” explained Fashion Patron director Klaus Metz to Asian Pacific journalists attending the event.

“Each designer had to have a series of 50 completed outfits and have two years in their respective markets. Creativity was vital. Asia has a vibrant explosion of growth as of late. I am convinced that Europe and Asia will have more mutual influences in future especially in the creative industries. Technology and travel will further propagate this.”

“A fashion designer stands out from the masses when they have a very personal view of creativity and life. Fashion should deeply interest you to a high level of passion. Only with profound experience and confidence can a designer be different.”

He added that it would not have been financially possible for a young designer just starting their career to introduce a collection to European markets.

“We hope this helps them get a foothold into the market.”
Mysterious Malaysian

Malaysia was represented by Chee Au. Haven’t heard of her? Well, neither have we! The Malaccan-born designer is refreshingly media-shy, and keeps an unusually low profile.

Born the fifth of seven girls, Chee’s parents constantly kept them busy with sketchbooks and colouring pencils. At seven years, Chee was sewing wedding gowns for her Barbie doll inspired by Princess Diana’s 1981 royal wedding.

She enrolled at the famed Parsons School of Design in New York (the same school that had produced designers like Zang Toi) and majored in fashion design. Roped into Kenzo upon graduation, Chee worked with renowned designers including Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Anne Klein and Nicole Miller. In 2005, she launched her self-named label in Hong Kong, which is her current base.

Till today, Chee Au is unknown in Malaysia despite having opened a Paris boutique. She refuses to have any publicity, not even a phone or email interview with us as she was attending a conference during InFashion.

“To Chee Au, it’s about the clothes, not about the designer, as is the current popular scenario in the fashion world,” insisted Daniel Henry, Chee Au’s fashion stylist who represented her in Berlin.

”Her clothes are about playing with construction and contrasts. It’s about quality workmanship in luxury fabrics. There are a lot of Asian elements as a tribute to Chee Au’s homeland. She had luxurious wool cashmere pieces lined with understated silk cotton. Strong lines and triangular shapes inspired by traditional Malaysian songket designs are applied to soft, feminine silhouettes.

“The theme for Berlin was Mysterious. The pieces accentuate the female form. Lots of cotton and silks were used and we played on the concept of smocking.”

But for Pham Nguyen Hoang Thien Toan, one of Vietnam’s foremost young designers, traditional values were an important thread running through his modern urban design style, which was themed Tre or Bamboo.

Models sashayed down the catwalk twirling conical woven grass hats that contrasted with dresses of organza, taffeta, linen and silk featuring traditional Vietnamese embroidery.

“My designs represent true Vietnamese values, my people and the countryside,” he said.

“Bamboo symbolises Vietnamese values of bravery and determination. Padi fields are also a frequent inspiration in my clothes because they awaken a strong sense of space and shape.

There are often embroideries with rice motifs and the sun. I hope I can introduce some of Vietnam’s beautiful landscapes and our indomitable spirit through my designs.”

Baroque meets punk rock

Beautiful embroidery and painstaking craftsmanship are the hallmarks of Chanel’s Métiers D’Art collection, which, this year, is presented as the Paris-Londres collection.

EVERY year, the House of Chanel presents a special collection dedicated to Métiers D’Art, or works of art. Feather makers, embroiderers and milliners and their craftsmanship and exceptional skills are a dying breed. To prevent their demise, Chanel bought five of these special houses dedicated to such crafts: Lemarié of fine feathers, trimming crafts from Desrues, shoe designer Massaro, milliner Maison Michel and the House of Lesage, world famous for exquisite embroidery.

While they contribute to Chanel’s couture collections, their work is also shown in the special yearly Métiers D’Art collections.

The very first, called Satellite Love, was unveiled in 2002. This year, the sixth edition is called Paris-Londres (London) and is supposed to echo “the tides that united England and Mademoiselle Chanel.”

(Mademoiselle had relationships with Boy Capel, an industrialist, and the Duke of Westminster, whose attire – such as hunting clothes, English tweed and military buttons – was a source of inspiration to her.)

The collection is certainly extraordinary, with lots of attention to detail in the embellishments and gorgeous decorative jewellery.

The collection is baroque style with punk rock accents, though on a delicate, romantic and refined scale.

There’s plenty of black – all the better to showcase the jewellery – ruching, trimmings, piped pleats and of course the signature camellia in startling red.

There’s a beautiful long tweed coat with frayed edgings reminiscent of Chanel’s iconic collections some years ago that had tweed jackets with frayed sleeves, but this one is supposed to hark to Mademoiselle’s era with “crudely-cut hems of the tweed and organza flounces.”

In terms of shapes, it has a bit of everything from bubble accents, volume in organza with flounces and also graceful silhouettes.

In keeping with the aim of showcasing handcrafted decorative work, some of the dresses have extraordinary decorative details that sparkle with coloured stones as well as what looks like bejewelled pins randomly attached to the dress.

You can’t help but marvel at the beauty of such a creation that turns a dress into a work of art.

And since it pays homage to England, the quirky element is found in the punk influences of graphic zippers, kilt pins, and even punk mittens of gilded metal lace.

As it is Chanel, accessories are of course, a major focus, with pocket books decorated with the Union Jack, exquisite and decorative small silver metal bags in different shapes, with one looking like a ball wrapped in chains. And the pièce de résistance? Light-bulb heels with a built-in battery!

Chanel’s artistic director Karl Lagerfeld, of course, has the perfect reason for this creation: “It’s a chic way to have your shoes shine – literally!” And who are we to argue with the man who has reinvented and redefined the House of Chanel?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

SHOWCASING Medusa logo, Versace

SHOWCASING a contemporary lifestyle under the sign of its celebrated Medusa logo, Versace officially opened its flagship store at Pavilion KL with a special showing of the Spring/Summer 2008 trunk show collection direct from Milan at the Fashion Cube.

The reception was stylishly done up in the Maison’s signature black. As the invited guests mingled and posed for the photographers, Patrick Dempsey (better known as McDreamy) stood there all alone and gazed at the crowd with those seductive eyes.

That’s because the sexy star from Grey’s Anatomy was merely a life-sized standee gracing the front window of the spanking new Versace store as the official new face of Versace Men for an unprecedented two seasons.

The first Spring/Summer 2008 ad campaign was shot by renowned fashion and portrait photographer Mario Testino in Los Angeles. McDreamy is set to enchant the ladies with his dashing looks and dreamy eyes in the dapper suits with the slim lapels.
“It was so lovely to work with Donatela Versace. She’s unbelievably down-to-earth and a wonderful person. She is an icon and inspirational woman. It was also a pleasure to work with Mario Testino, one of the world’s finest photographers,” said Dempsey, who wore a Versace tuxedo to last month’s Academy Awards while his wife was in a Donatella Versace creation.

The couple was also special front-row guests at the recent Versace’s Fall 2008 prêt-a-porter show in Milan and a jubilant Donatella Versace said of her choice: “Patrick represents everything that is great about this collection. He has that confidence, completely comfortable in his own skin, that is so attractive. I discovered that he is a man who is not afraid to like or even love fashion. He is the modern man of today and looks fantastic in the clothes. I’m a big fan and it was a great experience working with him because he is such a talented actor.”

In spite of the absence of these two important Versace figures at the Kuala Lumpur flagship store launch, special VIP guests from the entertainment, fashion and arts and local high society added much glamour and excitement to the night’s event.

Actresses Ida Nerina and Kavita Sidhu looked stunning in their Versace creations as was Miss Malaysia/World 2007 Deborah Henry who wore a glorious coral silk chiffon evening dress from the current Spring/Summer collection.

Keeping up with these beauties in Versace was Tunku Naquiddin Tunku Laksamana, who looked dapper in a grey suit from the Spring collection.

With a retail space of 297 square metres, the new store boasts an integrated appearance that is strikingly modern and elegant.

The architectural features echo the same stylistic guidelines adopted by important Versace flagship boutiques worldwide and present unusual combinations of materials such as black granite marble for the floors, white lacquer effect work on the walls and matt white ceilings.

The interplay of lights on the extra-clear blown glass, nine-metre curtain that hangs as a chandelier stays true to the Versace sophistication.

The boutique carries the women’s and men’s ready to wear collection, accessories featuring the complete range of bags, shoes, and belts for both men and women, as well as Versace eyewear, Versace Precious items and selected Versace Home items.

The Spring/Summer 2008 trunk show that ensued was specially flown in from Italy for this opening and was staged by the Versace team from Milan.

A selected group of 20 models showed off the stunning collection that was light and lithe, free and unrestrained but balanced with skilful tailoring.

Using subdued military colours of olive, khaki and green and brighter tones of jade, cornflower blue, fuchsia pink and orange, Donatella worked the collection with singular tones and less of the busy prints associated with the label.

The only prints in the collection were graphic renditions of traditional Ottoman iconography, stylised tulips and half moons.

Moving from day into night, she balanced the structured jackets and tops with flowy and drapey goddess-like dressing such as short togas, detailed open-back dresses and drop-dead gorgeous evening gowns.

The instant sex appeal of these women’s collection is matched by the sleek and slim dark suits from the menswear collection.

The collection lean toward new-wave flourishes like structured jackets with thin lapels over slim pants in high-tech fabric. An interesting jacket comes without lapels but is cut as though it had them to frame the face better.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Understated glam

Ben de Lisi’s show offered some of hits and misses.

Baby-doll dress with lace overlay, and rosettes at the hem, by Ben de Lisi.

ANYONE expecting sequins, beads and crystals to fill a bank vault, trimmings galore, embroidery and lace enough to cover a quilt would have been seriously disappointed with Ben de Lisi’s show.

They probably would have had withdrawal symptoms similar to a smoker going cold turkey.

To make the contrast even sharper, the show at the Stylo KL Fashion Festival preceding de Lisi’s was Malaysian designer Khoon Hooi’s spring 2008 collection.

Now, Khoon Hooi is known for his penchant for keeping things simple and elegant with no over-the-top detailing. He stayed true to form. It must be said the collection looked much better on the runway compared to earlier press images.

And on to the eagerly anticipated debut by de Lisi in Kuala Lumpur, let it be said from the start that it did not depart from his usual understated glamour. He has a formula and the man sticks to it. As de Lisi himself has said, one should always play on one’s strengths.

Black tiered dress with lace top. – Pics by KAMARUL ARIFFIN / The Star

The collection showcased clothes that generally flattered the body. Most of the clothes outlined the silhouette at all the right places, emphasising the form in a fluid way.

Some were more figure hugging like the metallic gowns (which were stunning) and the embroidered wool body suit. The embroidery print was also used in tops, gowns and dresses but the standout was a scoop neck top paired with a skirt with buckle details.

As for his trademark gowns, many featured his tried-and-tested one-shoulder diagonal straps. In fact his finale piece – a purple gown with floral details – looked as if he wanted us to remember his red-carpet Oscar moment with Kate Winslet in an identical chilli red number. Memories!

There were also some moments when it looked like the wrong end of high street was on the catwalk. A couple of tiered dresses with lace seemed out of the written script.

The crowd favourite (and deservedly so) was a baby-doll dress with lace overlay that had rosettes at the hem. Drool-worthy!

Fluid draped gown with diagonal oneshoulder strap.

The shoes for the collection by Lewré for Ben de Lisi were stunning to say the least.

In the end it was a smörgåsbord of Ben de Lisi for those who have had no previous exposure to his work. Was it a satisfying “meal” though? The response would probably be mixed.

Gracing Stylo

THIS is one man that apparently never stops working. After the press conference was over, Ben de Lisi was seen checking out the furniture and the drapes outside the function room.

The New York-born designer has been based in London since 1982 and involved in fashion for 27 years. de Lisi has been showing at the London Fashion Week since 1995 and in recent times, Paris as well.

CEO of Lewre International, Lewre Lew (left), and designer Ben de Lisi at Stylo KL fashion event. They are looking to launch the de Lisi label in Kuala Lumpur.

So what’s furnishing got to do with the man who dressed Kate Winslet for Oscar night? Plenty, as journalists covering the Stylo KL Fashion Event discovered.

de Lisi confessed that he’s a slave to the business and that includes interior design concepts. He has done projects for residential projects and hotels, and has a line of bathroom and kitchen furnishings as well as a diffusion line of limited home furnishing with British department store Debenhams.

The world may know de Lisi for his glamorous, elegant and uncluttered clothes, especially his stunning eveningwear. And that explains why he was in Kuala Lumpur recently.

He presented his Autumn/Winter 2008/09 collection fresh from the runways of Paris and London last week at the Stylo event. His clothes were showcased together with designs by Lewré, Malaysia’s footwear success story, whom he is collaborating with for a footwear project.

It was a real treat for Malaysian fashionistas as he’s never shown his line in East Asia before. While some critics say he’s predictable, his designs are always visually pleasing and certainly wearable.

So how do you define a Ben de Lisi woman?

“She doesn’t use a private plane to travel. She’s a woman who lives life on the right side of dangerous,” commented de Lisi.

Aside from Winslet, his clientele includes Hollywood celebrities like Anjelica Houston and Rachel Weisz to European royalty.

So what brings the man to our “muddy estuary”, which doesn’t quite qualify as a fashion capital (not yet, anyway)?

“I’ve known Lewré (Lew Fong Voon, CEO of Lewré International Sdn Bhd) for about five years now and we have worked together for London Fashion Week. There is a keen sense of fashion in KL and people are well dressed. We’re looking at launching the label here. And I haven’t been to the East for such a long time,” explained de Lisi.

He expressed surprise at how polished and slick the Stylo events were. de Lisi added that even though he didn’t come with expectations, there were thoughts that it might turn out to be parochial.

He said that there are three categories of designers in London and he falls into the last group – the established. Perhaps, after being at it for so long, some of the appeal of being a designer has worn off.

When asked to rate his favourite area of work which he’s involved in currently, he cited being a designer as third, with the interior business coming in second.

“I’m not jaded but it’s just that it’s something that I’ve been doing for so long. I still love clothes. But I love doing TV, as it is up close and personal, and it’s about you helping a future designer,” said de Lisi.

And by TV he meant his role as mentor and judge in Project Catwalk, the British equivalent of Project Runway.

“I was in Rio (de Janeiro) recently for a holiday recently. I normally go to South America for inspiration. I was in a club and two Canadians approached me and asked if I was the guy from Catwalk. Imagine being on another continent and someone from Canada knowing who you are. That’s quite a thrill.”

A journalist asked de Lisi for his opinion on the Stylo shows of the previous day. He was quite fair in dishing out the good with the bad and the ugly – from the creative way of infusing local culture into the fashion to the long overdrawn walk by the models and the irritating incessant drumming.

There’s never a constant in fashion. As model/TV host Heidi Klum loves to say every week on Project Runway, it’s a case of one day you’re in, the next you’re out. With this credo in mind, kudos to de Lisi for spreading his wings.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

All-in-One jumpsuit

TIRED of matching tops with the right bottom in your dressing lately? One simple and quick solution is the all-in-one jumpsuit. It’s easy to wear and all you need to add on is a belt, the right shoes and plenty of accessories.

Once popular in the 1970s, this one-piece design is back in fashion this Spring/Summer, appearing in a variety of styles from designers such as Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan and Giorgio Armani.

Jumpsuits are essentially one-piece garments used for parachuting and skydiving, hence the name. It has later come to be used as a common term for any one-piece garment with sleeves and legs. In the context of fashion, it has been called a playsuit or a romper when the length is shorter, or a cat suit when it’s skin-tight with leggings.

Originally, the design of the jumpsuit is to minimise the risk of covering the handles and grips for the skydiver. Today, it has found other specialised use by aviators and astronauts who wear insulated, fire-retardant jumpsuits for their missions while motor racing drivers wear fire-resistant jumpsuits to protect them against fire and abrasion.
Competitive skiers and speed skaters, on the other hand, wear their jumpsuits skin tight to provide freedom of movement while minimising air resistance.

Fashion works in a peculiar way and creates a trend out of it. In the 1970s, the shockingly new anti-fashion spirit was inspiring style pundits to start mixing genuine work wear with their high-fashion labels.

The industrial boiler suit and the military aviator jumpsuit were such garments and the one-piece style soon segued into the design pads of the fashion designers who created a variety of styles inspired by this all-in-one look. Celebrities of the 1970s disco days like Bianca Jagger and Diana Ross were spotted in them at the infamous Studio 54 in New York City during its heyday.

For this Spring/Summer 2008, the retro jumpsuit is reworked and restyled in different lengths and different fabrics making this easy-to-wear outfit ideal for day and night. At DKNY, the collection was right in tandem with the 1970s resurgence in the season’s fashion direction. Jumpsuits are a new favourite with Donna Karan who reportedly said “my life is in a jumpsuit and I’m so glad it’s back. To me, it’s an icon”.

Cut in wool or silk, the jumpsuit gets a feminine touch with puffed sleeves and cinched at the waist with graphic obi-belt and neon T-bar platform shoes. The one-piece icon also appeared in a playful, silky romper with jumbo leaf prints and long puffed sleeves.

In a collection where colour was chosen to define shape and emphasize the return to minimalism, Giorgio Armani applied a natural colour palette of sand, dusty grey, sage green and mineral light blue to his Emporio Armani for Spring/Summer 2008.

In this display of apparent reductions, clothes are transformed into jumpsuits or rompers which were soft and sensual without a hint of active sport or tiny cat suits with mini-trousers beneath a cloud of sequins.

The result was a signature Armani fluid look that was softened with a drape held together with a silk flower or dressed up with a matching jacket and metallic heels. Similarly at Dorothy Perkins, the jumpsuit gets a softer touch with a khaki version in fluid jersey that gathers at the ankle for a “harem pants” effect.

The halter top is sexy with a built-in necklace of huge white beads. Worn with leg lengthening heels, a textured belt and plenty of attitude, you are set for a look that will take you from day to night.

The night look seems to be the focus for Graeme Black’s final collection at Salvatore Ferragamo where the jumpsuit gets a coat of sequins and sparkled at a recent showing in Kuala Lumpur. The jumpsuit here cuts an interesting early ’80s silhouette with lightly padded shoulders and a slim cut legs.

More variations of these comfortable and retro jumpsuits from well-known designers can be ordered by mail from which stocks a good collection of these all-in-one garments. For casual daywear, “See by Chloe” offers a grey heavy cotton jersey sleeveless jumpsuit with ruche detailing on racer back and shoulder straps. It has a V-neckline, double drawstring waist, two zipped front patch pockets and can be simply slipped over a tank top.

Black and white graphic pebble prints decorate the “Natasia” halter romper by Diane Von Furstenberg which is a perfect outfit to pack for that exotic getaway. This sexy linen jumpsuit has a V-neck and two front patch pockets and complements the season’s large tote bags very well.

More holiday-inspired garments can also be found at Antik Batik which offers a colourful graphic print jumpsuit in comfortable cotton. The “Turel” halter has a self-tie neck, a deep V-neckline, an elasticised empire waist, two slit side pockets and wide legs.

For a full retro look, there is a canary yellow silk bandeau jumpsuit with a self-tie belt from Paul & Joe. Called the Lapaulet silk jumpsuit, it has a deep V-neck with an elasticised bust panel. Paired it with metallic heels and chunky accessories for a night out at the clubs.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Japan mobile fashion event showcases girl power

Ladies, who needs a wallet to go shopping when you've got a mobile phone? A Japanese company has put a girly twist to an everyday convenience - shopping using a cellphone - to attract young fashionistas with cash to spend on high-street garb rather than Chanel and Valentino.

Over the next two years, Japan's retail sales from mobile phone sites are expected to surge 60% - three times faster than the country's mail order industry - to about 300 billion yen (US$2.59 billion), according to researcher Fuji-Keizai.

Privately owned Xavel Inc. has been making inroads into that industry since it was set up in 1999, and over the weekend, it organised a grand shopping event which attracted nearly 20,000 women in their late teens and early 20s.

In a giant stadium outside Tokyo, the women crowded around a cross-shaped catwalk for the "Tokyo Girls Collection", a six-hour extravaganza featuring T-shirts and jewellery from labels such as Rich and Cecil McBee, little known outside Japan but popular among local students.

And to lure young fans, the event used models from teen magazines instead of catwalk professionals.

"She's so cute!" screamed a group of high school girls as models Yuri Ebihara and Moe Oshikiri stepped onto the stage.

For many, the show was about getting a glimpse of the more than 70 idols they see in fashion bibles "CanCam" and "Vivi". But other girls were there to spend.

"I think it's great we can immediately buy the clothes from cell phones," said Sachie Ishikawa, a 23 year-old student who attended the event for the second time.

"It's groundbreaking."

Traditional trappings

IN the rush to keep up with the latest fashion from the west, we seem to have forgotten the beauty of eastern style.

The grace and simplicity of the kebaya, the elegance of the cheongsam and the richness of the sari.

The mystery and enchantment of the East are there for the taking. And it needn't be old- fashioned.

Drawing from traditional inspirations, today's designers use modern fabrics and designs to define a couture that is uniquely Asia.

Bollywood glamour

For the latest designs from Bollywood, hop along to Mombai Fashion.

You'll find fashion garments for men, women and children, accessories, handicrafts and soft furnishings -- all imported from India.

From simple to breathtakingly elaborate, the shop is a treasure trove of luxurious fabrics and gorgeous beadwork.

Women will glory in designer saris studded with semi-precious stones, Punjabi suits of pure silk and shawls of Banaras silk, silk brocade, Jamawar and Jamdani silk designs.

For men, casual and formal khurtas made of cotton, raw silk, cotton silk and pure silk.

There are also lovely beaded bags ( and fairytale "Cinderella shoes".

Made of leather, the shoes festooned with sequins, embroidery and beads are described as lightweight and comfortable.

The store also caters to home décor as well as Chinese and Malay fashion. It is located in Mid Valley Megamall, KL (03-2283 6878) and Berjaya Times Square KL (03-2145 6878).

Ms Saigon

We're all well acquainted with the ethnic fashions of our own country. But why not borrow some styles from our neighbours?

Manis Pear is a unique store that claims to sell only non-Malaysian items. Its merchandise is imported from Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal, Cambodia and India.

Here is where you'll find the traditional Vietnamese costume, ao dai (left).

With its simple and graceful lines, the ao dai highlights feminine beauty and yet is practical and comfortable to wear.

Hand-embroidered and made from cotton, polyester and silk, prices for the ao dai range from

Deck yourself out in fabulous costumes made from Thai silk. Dresses made from this lush and rich fabric.

Manis Pear also sells bags, shawls made from Thai silk, Laos silk and even cashmere pashminas.

It also carries decorative items for the home and some pieces of jewellery. The shop is located in Amcorp Mall, PJ. Call 03-7958 3031.

Ethnic fusion

E'tho has been a leader in Malaysian fashion for over a decade. Eric Tho, one of Malaysia's top designers, has taken ethnic looks to new heights with his unique fusion of Malaysian cultures.

Using silk, cotton, lace, linen or brocade, he has clothes for men, women and children of all ages.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why New York Fashion Week won't be banning skinny models

As they stride down the catwalk with their long, slender legs, they seem almost perfect and in a way untouchable, these young women who will be showing off the creations of the top couturiers during the New York Fashion Week that starts today.

But now these much-admired models - for many years icons for millions of women - are having a critical eye cast on them.

"How thin is too thin - and how thin is potentially fatal?" is the question on many lips.

The death from anorexia of Brazilian supermodel Ana Carolina Reston at the age of 21 has caused consternation in the fashion world.

Just as sad was the case of Luisel Ramos, who broke down with heart failure at the age of 22 during a show in Montevideo, after she had recently lost a full 12kg.

In Italy and Spain measures have been taken to keep over-thin models off the ramp, and the theme has become a hot topic in the USfashion industry.

The industry does not want young women to starve themselves tobecome a "parade of skeletons," as Italian designer ValentinoGaravani has put it.

Three weeks before the New York Fashion Week, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), which represents 280 influential designers and is headed by Diane von Fuerstenberg, published a set of guidelines.

There has been long discussion ahead of this "health initiative"on whether there should be a ban on underweight models with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of under 18. The BMI is calculated by dividing the mass of the body in kilogrammes by the square of the height in metres.

The World Health Organization regards a BMI of under 18.5 as indicating underweight.

But the CFDA in the end decided not to press the issue, saying the intention was not to impose controls but to raise consciousness overthe issue.

Some models were by nature thin, while eating disorders were complex and often had a psychological or social background, it said.

In concrete terms this means that the modelling industry is not to blame.

The CFDA instead issued recommendations that anorexic models should receive professional help and be told about the dangers of starvation in workshops.

And backstage there should be sufficient healthy snacks for themodels to enjoy.

Models should also not be under the age of 16 and models younger than 18 should not work after midnight.

There is thus no ban on skinny models at the New York Fashion Week this year. Any such ban would have rendered many of the girls and their agencies unemployed.

One US survey put the average BMI for top models at 16.3.

Cathy Gould of the Elite modelling agency in North America expressed understanding for the Madrid decision, but added measures of this kind would be "discriminatory" in the case of modelsthat are extremely slim by nature.

David Bonnouvrier, head of DNA Models, takes a different view. "I am kicking and screaming about it now because this should be an industry of beauty and luxury, not famished-looking people that look pale and sick," he told the New York Times.

"We are minutes away from a catastrophe."

The message appears to be getting through - albeit slowly.

Linda Wells, editor of the magazine Allure, says: "What becomes alarming is when you see bones and start counting ribs."

Even supermodel Jessica Stam has expressed her concern. "I don'tknow if they are healthy or not, but I don't think the frail, fragile look is very feminine, and I don't think it's attractive," the 20-year-old Canadian says.

There are many who think like Stam. But Reston weighed just 40kg on her diet of tomatoes and apples just before her death and was nevertheless photographed for the Armani Catalogue.

By the time her agency L'Equipe sent her home, it was too late.

The stars, fashion scouts and stylists joining the rich in the front rows at the Fashion Week will not be able to discern how many of the catwalk models they are watching are suffering from eating disorders.

But perhaps they could take the time to visit the exhibition Dangerous Beauty in the Chelsea Art Museum.

Here a critical look is taken at how the beauty ideal is manipulated for mass consumption by means of exhibits that are sometimes shocking.

Those entering the exhibition first have to walk across a floor covered with bathroom scales.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentino’s swan song collection bears his signature traits and more.

Flower power: Puff balls on the neckline and hemline make this an interesting outfit.

ONE of the last fashion greats and his last ready-to-wear collection – now, surely that’s something worth recording for posterity. After 45 long years, 75-year-old Valentino Garavani finally bade farewell to the fashion world with a prêt a porter show in Paris last October, and with his haute couture collection, also in Paris, last month.

Already, we have Alessandra Facchinetti replacing him for women’s wear, while Ferruccio Pozzoni, formerly from Prada, steps in for men’s wear. Will they steer the fashion house (bought by a British investment fund last May) to new heights design-wise, or is it going be a slow gradual change so as not to upset Valentino’s legion of fans, and his wealthy and influential clientele?

Perhaps the spring/summer 2008 women’s ready-to-wear collection, retrospective of his extensive work, provides some pointers on the choices that will be made.

Sheer elegance: Bodice with crocheted effect and layers of ruffles.
Valentino’s final bow should fittingly have his trademark bows, and he did not disappoint. A case in point is a vintage Valentino one-shoulder aquamarine gown with a bow at the strap and another on the side. A sheer white sheath with plunging neckline held together with a bow and a row of bows at the back with a peek-a-boo effect proves his classic appeal.

The classy display of flesh is one of the more prominent looks of this collection. Swathes of material are cut into strips and crafted together expertly, done in his signature draping style that exposes a bit of skin here and there. The use of see-through lace and other sheer material is also thrown in.

Ruffles rule in flirty red numbers – giving a feathered effect – and layered hems.

The perfect accessory to go with many of the cocktail dresses (never mind the matching shoes) seems to point towards the Dalmatian. Polka dots, mainly in black or white, seem to be a common theme (though there are colour variations). Cruella de Vil would surely be pleased with Valentino.

Some of the outstanding pieces from the collection use the floating tie detail to perfection, particularly a stunning sheath ivory gown with thick sequined layers at the bottom of the gown.

Puffballs (reminiscent of sea anemones, perhaps?) on hems and necklines (and even sleeves) also figure prominently in some outfits. Utilised well, they look quite stylish but in some pieces, they look rather dated.

If it’s something trendy that you’re angling for, Valentino’s toga adaptations are aplenty, in variations for day to eveningwear.

Aside from his signature red, the colour palette took a cue from the rainbow as outfits appeared in a riot of colours and didn’t seem to gel with the seasonal thinking.

Some critics say that Valentino was stuck in a time warp (while others feel he never quite left the 80s) when he designed this collection. As his swan song, this collection should be celebrated for all that he’s been noted and acclaimed for.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The focus was on fur and artists, on Milan’s runways.

NEXT winter will be warm and cosy for Dolce & Gabbana’s male fans, with big, fluffy sheepskins, chunky jumpers, wraparound wool scarves and cloth caps, the designers suggested in their menswear show in Milan last month.

Debonair: Slim-line suit jacket by Lars Nilsson for Gianfranco Ferre’s Fall/Winter 2008/09 men’s collection.
The duo, the first of the big names to air their ideas for winter 2009 in Milan, focused on blacks, midnight blues and charcoal greys.

Models were wrapped up in huge sheepskin coats or jackets, while gilets looked snug over big-knit baggy jumpers in misty blues and greys.

The designers draped soft wool scarves once or twice around necks and tied them loosely at the back while, to keep ankles warm, ribbed wool cuffs finished off low-slung slim-line trousers.

There was a nod to equestrianism with jodhpurs and high leather boots, or leather patches on the inside of velvet trousers and shirt elbows.

Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce even turned out one model in comfy coffee-coloured combinations – juxtaposed with tough leather knee-length boots.

Accessories – important for luxury brands as they have strong returns and require small amounts of retail space – were also on a generous scale, with soft holdalls in brown and black leather that needed long legs to keep them off the ground.

And flat caps were de rigueur, whether in rough wool, fine wool for smarter wear or a shiny sateen look for evening.

British label Burberry went for a thin silhouette inspired by the paintings of northern England artist L.S. Lowry, said its designer Christopher Bailey.

“I really wanted to look at all the old Lowry paintings ... there’s something quite nostalgic, there’s something (in them) a little romantic, something a bit industrial,” Bailey said.

Smart and well-tailored jacket by Nilsson.
His collection featured peaked dark wool caps and long trenchcoats –reminiscent of the thin, dark figures which populate Lowry’s scenes of Britain’s industrial north in the last century.

Burberry’s men wore small-collared silk shirts with ruched or pleated fronts in coffee and black prints. Slim-line dark trousers appeared stick-like under tweed overcoats or soft duffle coats.

Hats were too big and peaked or knitted, while gloves were oversized in wool or metallic leather.

And bags – like those at Dolce & Gabbana – were big soft grips just right for journeys on a Lowry-era steam train.

Designer Donatella Versace shunned bags, gloves and hats in her show, which was watched by celebrities including pop singer Beyonce.

She used a difficult palette of dull navy, bruise-burgundy and brown which the designer said was inspired by the paintings of artist Tamara de Lempicka.

A focus on tailoring brought back the double-breasted jacket and low-slung straight trousers, instead of the big, snug looks which found favour elsewhere.

Versace’s version of sheepskin was worked hard, for coats with panelling picked out in leather strips – a more penned-in look than the wild and woolly lines at Dolce & Gabbana.

Sparkly cuffs and lapels tricked out a navy dinner jacket while figure-hugging fine knits completed the retro look.

A Burberry bag that’s just right for short journeys.
Lars Nilsson, hired to head designer Gianfranco Ferre after the founder’s death last year, broke with tradition and used a presentation instead of a catwalk show for his first collection.

“I thought this was the right way to present ... my new vision for Gianfranco Ferre,” said Nilsson.

Ferre, known for his skilful tailoring and trademark white shirts for men and women, died after a brain haemorrhage in June 2007. Nilsson promised a catwalk show for his first womenswear collection which will show this month.

The Swedish designer kept the tailored tradition for slim-line suit jackets and overcoats at this presentation, where live models mixed with dummies in a set laid out as four rooms.

Tailoring “is something I like a lot personally and feel very comfortable with. I’m very happy to be able to do that type of work,” Nilsson said.

He made a nod to Ferre’s white shirts only in formal evening wear, otherwise using steely blues, beiges and greys.

Trouser legs were oversized, ruched up in straight leather or billowing in country woollens over oxblood brogues, while he took necks high and buttoned up on warm wool coats and jackets.

“Maybe it’s in the silhouette that I’m breaking away, with more of a fitted jacket and the wider pants,” Nilsson said. “It’s a lot about warmth ... a softness but in a very masculine way.”

At Emporio Armani, ski wear turned urban chic with black and white techno fabrics and jackets or trousers speckled with snow-like sparkles. The Alpine mood ran on in sweaters inspired by Scandinavian patterns with trailing scarves to match.

Cool: Versace’s menswear collection had a more penned-in look.
Giorgio Armani, Italy’s best-known designer, also showed some womenswear at Emporio, which is his less formal line. Girls in short white skirts and black fitted jackets paraded alongside a man in black velvet curved-closure jacket and grey trousers.

Long-flowing women’s trousers and a silvery silk top with bows and pearls were paired with more velvet for a man’s evening suit.

For accessories, Armani had scarves that were swathes of rust and grey wool, while caps had earflaps or were knitted pull-ons – an emerging trend for the season.

Bottega Veneta designer Tomas Maier said he drew inspiration from workmen’s clothes for his collection, which mixed soft fabrics and sharp lines.

“I was very inspired by the workmen’s uniform, what a docker wears to go to work, what a painter wears, what a carpenter wears,” he said.

Maier dressed men in square-cut heavy wool jackets that echoed those worn by roadworkers.

A short-sleeved black sweatshirt was worn with a blue-grey waistcoat and baggy drill trousers, while roomy denim pants were paired with a smart navy overcoat.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Designing their dreams

TWINS Putri Azalea Ashram and Putri Yasmin Ashram look set to become Malaysia’s very own Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Yasmin makes the clothes while Azalea designs the accessories to go with them – now how much more compatible can a pair of twins get?

The 25-year-old duo, like the Hollywood wonder-twins, is set to take the local fashion world by storm. At least, they will not rest until their dream come true.

Having opened their first store, PU3, at The Curve, Mutiara Damansara in early 2007, the twins are fast gaining recognition as the young and talented fashion designers to look out for. In December, they opened another store in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

Putri Yasmin (left) and Putri Azalea Ashram make PU3 jewelleries and clothes at their home studio in Ampang.
“In the beginning, it was only Yasmin who was interested in doing fashion,” Azalea, who instead opted to study International Business, explains.

With a degree in Fashion Design and Marketing from Middlesex University in London, Yasmin was looking forward to help expand their mother’s already booming handbag business.

Azalea was then working for her brother as an accountant and only got a taste of the fashion world when she, too, started to help out in her mother’s business.

“I was fascinated with the things that my mother created and would add my own style while making them,” says Azalea.

An intricate design by Azalea for PU3.
She then realised that instead of just helping her mother out for fun, she could venture into the industry seriously. So, in 2005, Azalea enrolled in a three-month jewellery-making course in Morsley College, London.

When she returned, Azalea found herself ready to create the accessories to go with the outfits that Yasmin makes from scratch.

It was then that PU3 – a play on their name Puteri – was born.

Through their funky, youthful and trendy designs, Azalea and Yasmin have garnered a vast number of fans including local personalities like Sazzy Falak and Nora Danish, who wear their outfits.

“It’s nice to see people supporting a local brand and giving a chance to young designers like Azalea and myself,” says Yasmin.

A chance is also what up and coming designer Jay Lim hopes the public would give to his peers from the local fashion industry. The 25-year-old co-owner of JayLimDesign produces T-shirts as well as the Your Mind Is Your First Enemy brand pillow range.

“It’s quite difficult to get people to trust local brands, but thank goodness people are starting to recognise mine,” he says.

Jay graduated from Dasein Academy of Art in Kuala Lumpur and has been involved in digital design for four years, but only started the business when he met his business partner Vivian Toh. Their meeting and eventual partnership happened through an encounter on an Internet forum. They were introduced through a mutual friend, and later discovered their common interest in art and design.

“I leave all the design work to him, and I suggest words to put on the T-shirts. After that we coordinate exhibitions and do the promotional work together,” explains Vivian.

Though they have yet to open a store, their collections can be found at Headquarter in Cineleisure Damansara, Mutiara Damansara or Radioactive in Midvalley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur.

His latest range features the fictional Cheongsam-clad Miss Hua, who is proving to be a big hit among his fans. Miss Hua’s popularity is pushing Jay to expand the line to China.

“People like the range because it incorporates retro style into the Chinese culture,” says Jay, who proudly adds, “Only a few people in the whole world will wear the same design.”

“I make only a few pieces of the same design because people want their clothes to be more personal and less commercialised.”

That sounds like exactly what Raeesa Syahirah’s designs are like. The 19-year-old designer created the Lady Esah brand and draws on T-shirts and shoes without even planning her designs in advance. This way, her work is definitely personal and one-of-a-kind.

“It’s very hard to duplicate a design because each is unique in it’s own way and there’s no chance in making two designs look 100% the same,” she says about her method.

“Which is why they are only one of each of my designs in the world,” she says with a smile.

Raeesa, who is currently pursuing her degree in Graphic Design in Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, is proud of her unique and creative designs.

Starting off as a street artist (a “passion” she has long given up on), Raeesa incorporates her street style into her designs, making them funky and a must-have thing among her friends.

The eldest daughter in a family of four talented artists, Raeesa cheekily claims to be a better artist than her sister. However, she readily admits that her parents, especially her father, are very artistic and creative.

“I guess I got the genes from my parents, and it’s a good thing that I didn’t let it go to waste,” she adds. Raeesa hasn’t opened her own store yet, but during university breaks, she can be seen around town setting up temporary stalls exhibiting and selling her designs.

Her T-shirts prices start from RM35 depending on the clothing material and the intricacy of the designs.

Jay, on the other hand, prefers to keep his designs simple.

“Too much artwork makes a piece too complicated – my designs are simple but meaningful at the same time,” he explains, adding that teenagers are his target market as they would be able to relate best to his designs.

He doesn’t play with too many designs at one time, and limits his designs to only a handful of colours, which is also the factor that makes his work stand out from the rest of the designers out there.

Jay also says that there are many young designers who are just waiting for their lucky break.

“I don’t see them posing any threat at all. That is because I know that my designs are different and people would still be interested in buying my items because I have a message in each of my work,” says Jay.

Raeesa also feels that she’s different from most of the designers out there because of her passion.

Some of the young designers out there, she says, are only getting into the business because it is a cool venture to explore.

“I know people who print things off the Net and paint them on T-shirts and then sell them as their designs. It is not original and won’t last,” Raeesa says.

She hopes that people actually do more research and put more effort into their designs if they really want to make it out there because people, she adds, do appreciate talent.

She’s speaking from experience because a local film director who saw her work online was so impressed by her designs that he invited her to become the stylist for the cast in his upcoming movie. Unfortunately, her class schedule collided with the movie’s filming date.

“My parents would never agree to me skipping classes just to be part of that movie. It’s such a wasted opportunity but I know that there will be many more to come if I keep on doing what I do the way I do it,” she says.

Azalea, Yasmin, Jay and Raeesa are only a handful of young local designers who are starting to make their way into their industry.

Their works have proven to be unique, edgy and contemporary and surely, these are some of the names that will stick in our heads for many years to come.

Except that, as with any other local products, they need support from the public

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Defining freedom

Independence and personal freedom are often hot topics for multi-cultural, multi-faith societies. In a joint exhibition, Malaysian and Australian artists question what it really means to be free.

IT seems more than fitting that The Independence Project, a collaborative exhibition featuring works by contemporary Australian and Malaysian artists, is held in the lofty, wide spaces of Galeri Petronas, in the Twin Towers. While the buildings signal the growth – and increasing independence – of Malaysian’s economic and political standing, the artwork within reflects how individuals see their own personal freedoms.

Jointly curated by Gertrude Contemporary Art Space director Alexie Glass and Galeri Petronas’ senior curator, J. Anurendra, The Independence Project brings together recent works from seven Australian and nine Malaysian artists.

Part of an untitled series by Boatpeople.

The exhibition is broad and diverse in its scope, reflecting the predominant theme of Independence and Freedom itself: as artistic boundaries are pushed, the artists also have the opportunity to kick start new dialogues on what independence can mean on a personal, emotional scope.

Among the videos, paintings, sculptures, photography and installations, the artists explore how the notion of independence can vary depending on cultural, sociological, traditional and personal contexts. There are triumphs within the works – where personal freedom finds its place amid oppression – but also frustrations, boundaries and challenges.

Issues discussed range from the personal “restrictions” of conflict, to what seems like the insurmountable social challenges of racial and religious equality.

An untitled series of archival giclee prints, paired with a flag, by Boatpeople, forewarns of the dangers of extreme nationalism in multi-cultural societies. As if in premonition of the Cronulla riots of Sydney in 2005, the images of people’s heads wrapped in Australian and British flags mark the effacement of all personal identity and belonging in the face of establishing “national” identities.

A tongue-in-cheek look at the phenomenon of debt brings out the irony behind the bright and colourful future that money lenders promise us. Hundreds of neon flyers advertising loan sharks and debt repayment schemes are pasted together to construct the word “DEB”. We are attracted and mesmerised by the colours enough to overlook the seriousness behind what it actually all means – just as every contemporary Malaysian consumer overlooks what it actually means to overspend.

Mark Hilton’s lightboxes explore aspects of tragedy, conflict, crisis and human behaviour.

In addressing the contemporary global discrimination against Muslims, Australian artist Zehra Ahmed constructs a mixed media installation that speaks strongly for both contemporary Australian and Malaysian Muslims. “Permission to Narrate”, comprising a video projection, sound and acrylic paint, features a dark man in a kulta break-dancing over a beat box accompaniment; the words “permission to narrate” in Arabic, are interspersed behind the video.

Borrowed from the works of Edward Said, Zehra explains that, “the notion of requiring ‘permission to narrate’ alludes to the dominance of media and academic stereotypes surrounding Islam and the Arab experience.”

By fusing Islam and hip-hop, high and low cultures meet to challenge the established binaries of “us” and “them” to create new spaces for other voices, narratives and personal, social and national identities to be constructed and shared.

Then, in the midst of all seriousness, there is the overlooked aspect of play and the personal freedoms that are all too often forgotten in the search for the larger social, ideological or material freedoms. Independence can be something as simple as reserving the right to be silly.

Vincent Leong’s “Shut up! You’re not Real” installation features images of talking lips projected on stationary soft toys. Born out of self-professed “boredom”, Leong’s artwork is about seeking out ways to create something fun and entertaining.

The prejudices against Australian aborigines are challenged in Richard Bell’s work.

“Entertainment, as part of play or having fun at work is often overlooked as a vital aspect in art making. This installation challenges the emphasis on being ‘practical’, ‘sensible’, ‘serious’,” explains Leong.

In its vibrancy, the works in The Independence Project bring a pervasive light-heartedness to the whole exhibition, in spite of the largeness of the subject matter. It opens up dialogue and, through its creative range of multi-media works, encourages the viewer to look at life, love, debt and restrictions with a little more humour. For how else can we really overcome the obstacles to our independence?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ethnic but modern

PART of the joy of welcoming the Chinese New Year for some people is the opportunity to get some new togs for themselves.

A dainty white dress with a red and grey border.
A dainty white dress with a red and grey border.

While some people may enjoy shopping for traditional classics, the more adventurous souls may be looking for something appropriate to wear for the Lunar New Year, but with a funky and modern skew to it.

Happily E’tho’s Spring 2008 collection designed by Eric Tho strives to satisfy all tastes. The collection not only features clothing for women but men and children as well.

Always advocating ethnic wear but with a modern touch, this latest E’tho collection once again successfully fuses Malaysian cultural elements together for the Year of the Rat.

The launch of the show saw Tho’s creativity in action. A male and female model, both clad in red with fabric featuring a batik rat print, flanked the God of Prosperity as he was introduced to the audience.
Particularly whimsical was the cheery red cheongsam with rat print. Pretty camisoles looked stunning when matched with long pants or capris.

Formal jackets were given a local flavour with songket and double layering of chiffon with intricate beadwork.

For those who prefer contemporary clothing, Western-style gowns and clothes were also part of Tho’s collection. With Chinese New Year just around the corner, naturally there were cheongsams and sam foos to choose from, in a myriad of colours and fabrics such as laces, cotton and silk.

Campaign season

Victoria Beckham for Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2008.

Posh Spice for Marc Jacobs? Whatever next? As one of the most anticipated ad campaigns of the season, the unlikely pairing will see a series of ads with Victoria Beckham seen popping out of a shopping bag, stepping out of a gift box and striking her best pose.

The Juergen Teller photos will start coming out in February and over the next few months. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), Marc Jacobs was quoted as saying he liked the idea of Beckham being a product that the Marc Jacobs label was producing.

Burberry goes colourful this season.

Like the change of the season, British label Burberry also marks a change in their Spring/Summer 2008 ad campaign, which is all about colour and movement.

Burberry Spring/Summer 2008 ad campaign.

Creative Director, Christopher Bailey says, “Movement, energy and character – the defining spirit of this Spring/Summer 2008 ad campaign. Working together with an eclectic, British and talented group of musicians, actors, models andsportspeople to express a fresh new attitude of the Burberry family.”

Famed photographer Mario Testino shot the ad campaign and a whole series of faces reading like the who’s who of British talent, ranging from Agyness Deyn, model and face of the new Burberry fragrance, Burberry The Beat, model Lily Donaldson, Coco Summer, daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler, actor Eddie Redmayne to Liam Wade, guitarist for Courtney Love and golfer Tom Wade amongst others.

The ad campaign will be seen in key publications worldwide this month.

Ferre Spring/ Summer 2008.

Ferré comes to town.

Another new boutique has just opened in KL, the first stand-alone Ferré boutique. Located at Suria KLCC, the Italian label will feature the classic and sophisticated looks the brand is known for.

The boutique will be carrying both men’s and women’s apparel, shoes and accessories.

the Spring/Summer 2008 collections, for womenswear, expect to see lovely flowing gowns, graphic prints on short mini dresses as well as easy, wearable luxury pieces. For men, expect slender fits, well-constructed silhouettes, and great summer wear from large shirts to bermudas.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Arty farty and geometric craze

Contrasting trends and fabulous and wearable clothes mark the Spring/Summer 2008 collections. Over the next weeks, we look at the season’s key trends. We start off with art-inspired and prints.


WHAT: Literally, art work or paintings on your clothes.

Diane Von Furstenberg — Reuters

The Look: Think splashes of fantastical brushstrokes, gorgeous saturated colours, surrealist paintings and the watercolour effect.

This season, something new turned up, in what the fashion world calls “art-inspired”. Literally, material inspired by works of art or the process of creating art.

The most beautiful example, I think, can be found in Dolce & Gabbana’s collection, where it looks like they painted directly onto the material itself.

The duo was inspired by American artist Julian Schanbel’s work (he was one of the most famous artists in the 1980s), and they translated it to their collection by using pale brushstrokes on parchment canvas.

Then there is the current trend towards what I call saturated colours, a gradual diminishing of colours, from light bleeding to dark.

This is also known as tie-dye, (though that might make you think of the 70s hippie tie-dye look which is nothing like the 2008 version) or the more sophisticated name for it, ombre.

It makes for an amazing effect, and some of you might have noticed the ombre effect appearing last season.

There is also watercolour; think pale, washed out colours with some striking overtones such as the collection from Zac Posen, who sent out some fantastical creations, gowns with gathers, drapes and pleats in gorgeous washed out shades of blue, green and dabs of yellow and brown.

Dolce & Gabbana — AFP.

It might take some getting used too, but it’s definitely one of the more interesting looks of the season.


What: Zig-zags, strange looking patterns and abstract in bold colours.

The Look: Go for simple silhouettes as these prints will take center stage.

Prints, always a major splash, has been around way back in the 50s with the “The Prince of Prints”, Emilio Pucci, who created a revolution in the 1950s with his bold, new designs and radical approach to fashion of the time.

And of course, Missoni, with their art- deco-inspired dresses in the late 60s.

And of course, we have the favourite, Diane Von Furstenberg with her wrap dresses in beautiful prints.

Nowadays, we see prints everywhere in a myriad of patterns and designs.

This season, it’s gone graphic and ethnic, and while those two prints are radically different, they make for very striking pieces this season as seen from Fendi and Emilio Pucci. (We will look at ethnic/tribal in the coming weeks.)

What’s interesting is the play of colours and patterns, the abstract designs and the way it can totally change an outfit or if it’s too bold for you, pair it with a single block colour for contrast.