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10 of the best fashion designers in Malaysia


Last year’s inaugural fashion week in Kuala Lumpur was the first official platform for the country’s design talent and an important boost to Malaysia’s ever-more-important fashion industry. Beth Druce charts the fashion creatives who are helping to shine the spotlight on this corner of Asia

Beth Druce portrait
Beth Druce,

1. Bernard Chandran
The father of Malaysian fashion design, Bernard Chandran was thrust into the limelight after being the first non-European to win the highly regarded Silk Cut Young Designers Award and the Open European Contest for Look of the Year 2000 in 1991. In the decades since, he has built his name with a distinctive approach that favours an exuberant, architectural style, which has been worn by the likes of Tori Amos and Lady Gaga.

2. Yii
Drawing heavily on his own experiences, Yii is inspired by ideas about fashion and design as seen through the eyes of a child, which produces a new take on both womenswear and menswear. The result is the perfect balance between inventiveness and wearability, with the SS15 womenswear collection showcasing clever folds and shapes combined with innovative illustrated sweatshirts and boxy cropped tops and tunics.

3.  Zang Toi
One of the first Asian designers to be championed by US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, Zang Toi has a distinctive, cutting-edge approach that takes inspiration from influences as diverse as Marie Antoinette and the Serengeti in Africa. For SS15, masculine tailoring is combined with monochrome and dandy stripes for a sharp and quirky aesthetic that confirms Toi’s position as one of the most accomplished Malaysian designers in the industry.

4. Cassey Gan
Fusing functional design with comfort, Cassey Gan’s designs have a directional, urban feel executed via the use of cuts and folds. The designer was included in Vogue Italia’s ‘future generation of talents’, and her unique look is fast emerging in the shape of the non form-fitting silhouettes that characterise the bulk of her creations. Gan studied at the London College of Fashion before returning to her native Kuala Lumpur where she exhibits today.

5. Edmund Ser
Synonymous with directional corporate attire, Edmund Ser’s eponymous label was founded in 1981, and has thrived thanks to its designer’s flair for creating desirable and functional clothing for men and women. Ser is a household name in Malaysia, his refined approach to tailoring for both men and women resulting in collections that offer coordinating separates with quirky details, fusing workwear with ready-to-wear each season.

6. Farah Khan
As president of luxury retail company the Melium Group, Farah Khan was particularly well placed to launch her own brand, thanks to her acute understanding of the way modern Asian women want to dress. Enter her eponymous label, founded in 2007, which fuses intricate Asian beadwork with versatile fabrics. Characteristically glamorous, Khan’s one-of-a-kind pieces range from separates and cocktail dresses to dazzling red-carpet creations.

7. Melinda Looi
Melinda Looi is one of the most influential fashion designers working in Malaysia today, having dressed both royalty and celebrities, and won numerous awards. Looi’s creatively experimental style has afforded her an instantly recognisable design signature. For SS15 she explores colour, attacking the fabric with a ‘radical obsession’, as she puts it.

8. Maricel Pamintuan
Offering a youthful take on elegance, Maricel Pamintuan creates desirable dresses and separates that the designer describes as ‘ethereal, with a modernist tone’. She favours small, luxurious embellishments, a legacy perhaps of her time at Marchesa. The soft pastel colour palette for her Maricel SS15 collection feels fresh and clean, and Pamintuan’s accomplished and refined style feels just right for the current season.

9. Salabianca
Designers Tino Soon and Allan Chan launched Salabianca in order to offer the women of Malaysia directional clothing and accessories all in one place. The result is a collection of exuberant, eclectic pieces with embellishment taking centre stage. Here, silk, velvet, satin and organza are adorned with semi-precious stones, freshwater pearls and shining baubles for an inventive and romantic take on glamour.

10. Vinn Patararin
Vinn Chokkhatiwat and Patararin Pongprast pooled their talents in art and architecture to launch their own label. Their conceptual approach explores structure, culture and identity to create a modern, cutting-edge brand that champions directional, wearable pieces. Always pushing the boundaries of design, the label illustrates how far Malaysia’s fashion industry has come since its earliest days.

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