In light of the recent Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week, say hello to six of the most talked about designer talents this year.
A graduate of Raffles College of Higher Education, Lisa F has already carved out a career as a fashion stylist – not content, the fashion insider’s favourite recently debuted her ready-to-wear brand at KLFW, a spring/summer collection centred on playing with pastels in sporty silhouettes. ‘The [collection] is greatly influenced by the deconstructivist postmodernism movement; it’s about distinctiveness, unconventional creativity and controlled chaos,’ says Lisa F, nodding to the details and forms of Philip Johnson’s architectural achievements. Think muted colour blocking: pale and pretty pastels paired to echo retro preferences of the ’50s and ’60s; daffodil, mint green and periwinkle set off by crisp nudes and chromium greys.
Lisa F slithers with structured sugary sweetness; instead of fluttery chiffon, there is a high-neck one-piece with slits up the thigh, a one-shoulder shift dress, and tulle-like touches draped over boxy shirts. A certain kind of chalky, almost Impressionist wash – reminiscent of Degas and Manet – is present in the artistic air; a Marie Antoinette subtlety to style, a Wes Anderson-like imagery, updated with tailoring and technique. It’s feminine, but not womanly, soft yet strong – and perhaps the word ‘strong’ is apt in describing Lisa F’s debut. ‘The journey has just begun,’ she tells us, and rightly so.
Verdict: Pretty pastels in sporty silhouettes
The notion of a nameless label isn’t something new – but in a post-modern, over-sharing day and age, anonymity can be powerful, rewarding, subversive. Designs with no names, labels minus the titles: look at Vetements, the Düsseldorf-based collective of young designers who snub the trappings of traditional luxury; look at Maison Martin Margiela, the most famous designer you’ve never heard of.
HIDE has had the scene buzzing for a while now, provoking intrigue behind a mask of mystery; the new label, which launched its first showcase at KLFW, is designed by a fashion photographer, one with a distaste for the spotlight and a professional focus on the product. The end result is cutting-edge, hard-hitting cool that is ‘minimalistic in nature’; modern, yet referencing monk robes, Japanese aesthetics and cultural norms, and the ‘shifting shapes of desert dunes’. There’s a touch of deconstruction – something raw and rough – to the (almost) all-black-everything collection (‘Black is not a colour, but a style’, the designer tells us, and we agree); it convinces from the get-go and at first look, a painted stroke bodysuit paired with pinstripe hakama pants, tied with an oversized leather obi belt. Everything else we love too, drapes, pleats and all – the chiffon slit dress, the floor-length wool vest, and the karate belted suede biker jacket. What’s in store for the near future, you ask? ‘Unisex wear and unexpected textures’.
Verdict: Minimalistic Japanese cool
The art of fashion, the fashion of art, and so on and so forth; the age-old question of whether fashion is a true art form is almost answered in Man Chien’s avant garde artistic aesthetics. As opposed to fine art, some might say fashion is more of an applied or decorative art, but according to Man Chien, ‘Everything can be perceived as art’. Influenced by a family of artistic abilities and an aunt and uncle who were fine artists, Man Chien grew up painting, sketching and visiting art galleries.
A graduate of Raffles College of Higher Education, few designers of her generation have produced more work of ideas. Beyond the glitz and glamour, she took to the runway – barefoot, we might add – at KLFW with a collection inspired by Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’. The allegory, of course, describes prisoners chained in a cave, mistaking appearances – echoes and shadows of passing puppets – for reality; one might presume that her presentation was a playful-yet- profound poke at the pomp and circumstance of fashion.
That aside, her signature styles come across clear and consistent. Think abstract, hand-painted full skirts; black, bold brushstrokes on a sheer, structured white dress; Chinese calligraphy, doodles, soft water colours on breathable linen and pure silk. With a background in industrial design, her Charpente Collection is lust-worthy: a series of bags, released alongside the label’s ready-to-wear that parades her workmanship in carpentry with assorted textiles.
Verdict: Wearable pieces of art
The Malaysian winner of Harper’s Bazaar Asia New Generation Fashion Designer Award put out a collection inspired by the magnificent Grand Canyon: all bright colours, crop tops and geometric panelling.
A friend and frequent collaborator of Joe Chia, Justin Chew’s second appearance at KLFW strengthens his signature streetwear style with oversized T-shirts and ripped jeans.
Look to Tsyahmi for minimalist, monochromatic clothing; the designer drew sartorial inspiration from the supple movements of Siamese fighting fish, showing loose pleat tops with billowing trousers.