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.