Thursday January 3, 2013
Inspired by Ipoh
By BERVIN CHEONG
Fashion designer Eric Choong draws from his small-town upbringing to unveil a menswear collection.
THE fashion industry has always looked to the past for the inspiration of glamour and it is not uncommon to witness the appropriation of retro style in modern times.
In this regard, couturier Eric Choong has unveiled a menswear collection which looks to past elements of the Malaysian heritage for aesthetic references.
Choong, 48, says: “As someone who grew up in the 60s and 70s, I have always held those eras close to my heart. Naturally, I chose to make them my inspiration for my first menswear collection.
“For the collection, I drew inspiration from the heritage buildings in Ipoh – where I was born and raised – particularly the old shop lots, alleyways and the renowned Ipoh kopitiams where many people would meet and relax after a hard day’s work.”
Choong also names the music and dance of that era as an influence on his designs: “I distinctly recall the times when my parents used to frequent a dance hall in Ipoh’s famous Jubilee Park to joget and dance the ‘agogo’. I have strong memories of the dancers during that era wearing lots of checks, patterns and contrasting colours.”
Freedom By Eric Choong is a collection of ready-to-wear menswear pieces that can be described as a mash-up of all those elements. The one-off, limited-edition capsule collection features various combinations of patterns such as broadcloth checks combined with pin stripes, and a multitude of bold, contrasting colours. Materials used range from cotton and chinos to multi-textured hand-woven fabrics.
There is also versatility in the designs with shirts consisting of both long and short-sleeved varieties, while trousers come in both flat-front pants and slim-fit shorts. There are also different tailored jackets and blazers, and these are matched with accessories such as bow ties for that old-school, retro vibe.
While this is Choong’s debut menswear collection, he is no stranger to the trade. He first launched the Eric Choong Evening label in 1990, and this was followed by other labels comprising collections that ranged from bridal and cocktail to corporate wear in the following years.
Choong describes his philosophy on fashion as one that expounds on the expression of individual style and personality. His designs are observed to be able to transcend fads and he often integrates Malaysian cultural influences into his works.
Choong has received numerous awards and accolades for his talent. He was nominated by the Malaysian Tourism Board as one of Malaysia’s Top 10 Designers for three years running (1990-1992). From 1997 onwards, he was regularly invited to represent the country in fashion shows such as the ASEAN Designers’ Fashion Show (1997), Asia Pacific Young Designers’ Show (1998), Asia Pacific Bridal Summit (2001), Show of Asian Cultural Garments (Asia Annual Conference of Cultural Exchange, 2003), Swarovski Asia Fashion Tour (2004), Sydney Bridal Fashion Week (2009), Pakistan Fashion Week (2010), Asia Fashion Awards (2012) and Harbin International Fashion Week (2012).
Choong’s designs are best encapsulated in his womenswear where he often depicts strong, independent and feminine styles. To this effect, while the Freedom By Eric Choong is a collection for men – a first within the 22 years of his career – he still sees it as something that can fit women too.
“I specifically designed this collection to be versatile so that it can also be worn by the fairer sex because of its cheery colours and patterns, modern slim cuts and dandy appeal,” he concludes.
> Freedom By Eric Choong pieces are priced from RM129.90 to RM329.90. The collection will be available from Jan 15 at selected Robinsons, Tangs, Parkson and Ruffey outlets in Malaysia. Visit www.ericchoong.com for more information.