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.