KL Fashion Week: Beyond the glitz and glamour


Nikita Nawawi
Written by Nikita Nawawi

KUALA LUMPUR – August 21, 2015: It has been almost a week since the third instalment of Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week Ready to Wear 2015 (KLFW) came to an end, but the fashion realm is still exalting over the imposing presentations by the featured designers.

From Sazzy Falak’s Malaysian-flavoured kimonos and bandeaus to Khoon Hooi’s edgy-luxurious ensemble which sprinkled a taste of high fashion into street wear, KLFW was nothing short of glitz and pizzazz.

For transforming the Pavilion centre court into a flair and panache galore, the fashionistas owe it to the man with the magic wand, Andrew Tan – the founder of KLFW.

Speaking to The Mole, Tan divulged his vision of KLFW and elucidate why the event is more than just about pretty garments and camera flashes.

“All these years, I have been producing fashion events for other organisers namely the Malaysia International Fashion Weeks but they were not spot-on in delivering the mission which supposed to be for the amelioration of local designers.

“In 2013, I took the challenge to launch the very first KLFW. I felt like Kuala Lumpur needed it, we needed it. Establishing our own fashion week signifies that our fashion identity is already visible in the global map,” he said.

Looking back at the past three glittering years, Tan believed the local designers have grown a whole heap not only as trendsetters but also as business figures.

“From the first year, we have been pushing our designers. We want to see our designers to be aggressive as it is no longer just about creating designs anymore. It is about selling those designs and pushing for sales.

“The evolution in the designs over the years is eminent which is on-point with our tagline this year – Malaysia for the World. We want our designers to extend their reach to the European and American markets,” he added.

Prior to the glamorous event, Tan admitted that his team had an arduous task of sorting out and deciding the designers who would grace the runway with their collection, stressing that the selecting process was not as easy as one would expect.

The hopeful designers were required to present their body of work to Tan’s team and elucidate the fabrication of the collection.

“The designers also had to explicate to us on their business idea. We wanted to know how they expected to push their designs further in the future,” he said.

KEL_1492 KEL_8840 KEL_6273Among the standouts at the KLFW 2015. (From Left – Street Fashion By Sazzy Falak, Khoon Hooi and Man Chien)

Instant designers conjecture

In advance of the star-studded event, KLFW was scrutinised by some for its line-up.

Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) senior lecturer at the Faculty of Art & Design Faizal Hamid had indirectly criticised the event organiser for their selection of designers.

Faizal claimed that numerous designers on the list were ‘instant designers’ with no background or education in fashion. He then envisaged that the KLFW this year would promise nothing but a catastrophic mess.

Tan, however, feels that Faizal and other critics of the same opinion were being unprofessional for making such remarks without knowing the facts.

“A lot of creative directors own their own brand because they can afford to do so. They employ a group of aspiring designers and work together as a team.

“These creative directors are actually opening job opportunities to young designers who are looking to catch a break as some of them are just starting out; they cannot afford to start their own label,” he said.

Backing his argument, Tan asked whether those critics considered international fashion mogul Victoria Beckham as an instant designer as she is in fact a music icon before investing in fashion.

“Beckham did not build her fashion empire unaided. She has a team of designers under her and they would sit down and brainstorm for their line; that is how she does it and that is why her line is selling well.

“Those critics, have they seen these ‘instant designers’ working? Have they seen their designs beforehand? No. Take actress Nur Fazura of the House of Dolls for example; she had her debut at KLFW this year.

“I myself have seen how involved she is and how particular she is towards her collection. I saw dedication in her as creative director of her own brand, so the matter does not arise,” he said.

Screenshot_2015-08-01-02-30-03-1 hi_03-2 1418103449Fazura-E Emelda Rose and Nur Fazura are some of the celebrity-turned-fashion-designer that were said to be the object of ridicule over the ‘instant designer’ disparagement.

Haute Couture Outlook

In the midst of KLFW, Tan had slated some designers who have been abusing the term ‘Haute Couture’ in their name brand, affirming the appellation is a certified honour from the Fédération Française de la Couture (The French Federation of Couture).

Among the designers and couturiers who are recognised by the federation are Alexander Mc Queen, Balenciaga, Balmain, Christian Dior, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier and Pierre Cardin.

“Some of our local designers do not even know what haute couture means. It is not even a word they are allowed to use, they could be sued! The ‘couture’ stamp is exclusively for the certified designers and couturiers.

“If they meant to say ‘Made to Measure’ where they specifically attend to a client’s demand for a specific collection, then yes; there is such a thing. It is just that the word ‘haute couture’ has been erroneously used,” said Tan.

On that note, he turned down the possibility that a separate fashion week for the ‘Made to Measure’ collection would be brought to fruition in near future as what has been done in the international fashion league.

“Fashion weeks around the world are predominantly about Prêt-à-Porter (Ready to Wear) collections, even in Paris or New York. They annually attributed two seasons for the fashion weeks – Spring/Summer and Fall collections.

“This coming September to October, the Spring/Summer 2016 collections will be unveiled which all designers are showcasing their Ready to Wear collections. Of course there will also be Spring/Summer Haute Couture fashion events but they are not meant for all designers or couturiers – only the certified ones,” he added.

Given the astounding support the KLFW had received from the sponsors, designers and fashion aficionados this year, Tan shared his excitement over what he has in store for next season.

“KLFW next year would focus more on differentiating between Ready to Wear’s luxury and mass collections. Some designers create their own version of Ready to Wear collections which the fabrication and design are leaning more on luxury style.

“If we look into the global market itself, there is a significant differentiation of brands like Zara, which is a mass Ready to Wear brand and Versace or Valentino which both are couturiers and Ready to Wear producers but they are more selective, more luxurious,” he said.



About the author

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi is an up-and-coming writer who started his involvement in the media industry serving established local English daily, before joining The Mole in October 2014 as journalist.