The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Kuala Lumpur (MBFWKL) 2021 returns for its third inception as it brings together the biggest names in local, regional, and international fashion industry featuring designers, such as Andy Sulaiman, Khoon Hooi, and Shaleen Cheah.
It serves as a platform for upcoming and seasoned designers in the local fashion industry to showcase their collections and brand-characterising inspirations. This year, renowned fashion designer and ESMOD KL Fashion Design Programme Leader Eric Choong was one of those whose collection took to the prestigious runway. This year, he celebrates his 33rd anniversary in the Malaysian fashion scene with an exquisite artisanal collection at the MBFWKL 2021.
Eric’s collection ‘Crafting Design, Designing Craft’ centres around his re-interpretation of Batik for contemporary apparel. Inspired by the centuries-old textile art, the veteran designer’s collection created visual magic weaving intricate elements that showcase the beauty of the ancient classic art. The stunning pieces were truly a sight to see.
In conjunction with the MBFWKL, the Fashion Futures design competition which takes place on the final night of the Mercedes-Benz gala was a roaring success.
The Fashion Futures design competition is a platform that highlights and supports budding talent among young designers in the local fashion industry. Targeting Malaysian designers with 6 months to 4 years’ work experience in the industry, five finalists were required to produce six sets of complete looks to be judged at the runway show.
Liew Hung Yi was crowned Champion, taking home with him cash prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to a global Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which is set to take place in Berlin, Germany.
Liew’s collection ‘Who killed the butterfly’ is an exploration on the idea of imperialism, orientalism and cultural conflict referencing the opera ‘ madama butterfly ‘ set in 1950s Japan, a tragic tale of Cio Cio San by Giacomo Puccini.
“In this collection, I wanted to combine the idea of western clothing with the Japanese kimono silhouette. Deconstruction and reconstruction are heavily seen within pieces such as a coat that is torn apart and transformed into a skirt and unfinished lining to expose the inner construction. I also experiment with ‘Kinbaku’ meaning tight binding, which is a type of Japanese bondage, appreciated for both its aesthetic and sexual appeal”, said the winner. 3
Inspired by his aunt who was a seamstress, he was fifteen when he realised fashion is so much more than just sewing, but rather a way to tell stories and create dreams. However, his journey in the art and design scene was not an easy one having been doubted by many on his decision to pursue a career in fashion design. He persisted and graduated from ESMOD Kuala Lumpur and today, is a talented freelance fashion designer.
The preparation for the Fashion Futures competition took place during the Covid-19 lockdown, and Liew, like his fellow participants, faced difficulties sourcing for materials to produce their collection. He turned to online stores and even had to make use of up-cycled dead-stock materials from designers. Nevertheless, all his efforts paid off as he clinched the victory!
Coming in second is Homun Hooi, a 23-year-old born and raised in Klang. She created a stellar collection titled ‘The Bitter Sweet Journey’ which explores the endurance of hardships for future and the idea that there is no pleasure without pain. Drawing inspiration from her own experiences, the collection is based on her own story.
“I was born in a strict family and my parents have taught us invaluable life lessons about work, future and life. However, they also set lots of boundaries, rules and are very strict that sometimes I feel as though I’m being trapped in a cage”, explained Homun.
Choosing plaid to represent a high sense of elegance while advocating nobility and royalty, she said this material perfectly symbolizes her parents. The design retains conservative values while breaking through traditional design.
In third place is Ho Liren, whose collection ‘Epiphany’ touches on the self-realisation of a person and breaking free from old patterns. Through an innovative use of plant leather, her collection proves that luxury fashion does not have to involve animal slaughtering, tapping into new alternative technology that is more sustainable and cruelty-free.
“The collection speaks about being more conscious when it comes to the way we live and think. It applies to everything in life”, she elaborated.
Her advice to future creatives was to always have a clear and positive intention in whatever you do whilst remaining present and enjoying every experience.
It is wonderful to see young Malaysian talents rise up to the challenge and prove they are worth their salt in the fashion design world, albeit being fresh graduates who have just began their careers.
Students of ESMOD Kuala Lumpur are always encouraged to challenge themselves by participating in competitions that expose them to real life industry practice to put to test what they have already learnt from ESMOD Kuala Lumpur, which is under the umbrella of the world’s first and oldest fashion school in the world with over 180 years of history. Just like The One Academy’s commitment to the “Masters Train Masters” coaching philosophy, ESMOD Kuala Lumpur students are nurtured with the best Parisian fashion design education through comprehensive syllabuses that cover not only the creative-based fashion designing, but also high level practical techniques of pattern-making which are led by experienced international fashion designers, most of whom hail from Paris, the fashion capital city of the world.