Thursday January 31, 2013
Mayfair Designs’ Chinese wear collection
By WILLIAM K.C. KEE
Local designers tackle traditional apparel in meaningful ways.
WHAT has serendipity got to do with Mayfair Designs’ Chinese wear collection?
“It’s not even an auspicious word,” said Leung Thong Ping, the founder of Mayfair Designs. “But then people have come not to expect the norm from the brand in the way they interpret Chinese clothes.”
Hence, for Leung, serendipity is the thrill of the unexpected find.
“My serendipitous moment was when I discovered that my personal taste in day-to-day wear appealed to others, and I could make a career of it,” added Leung in an e-mail interview.
Leung described her love for the original Chinese dress – which was popular from the 20s to 40s – as “unshakeable”.
“It is the dress exemplified by what you see on Shanghainese girls in the calendar posters of that era. The form, silhouette, fabrics, motifs, fine edging and handmade buttons – they are what inspire the Mayfair look.”
According to Leung, this year’s look may be funky but it’s still reminiscent of the traditional garment. “It is traditional cool with a rich eclectic mix of textures and tones, bold florals and quiet colours, flowy lines and lean shapes. A look that’s best complemented with flat shoes, slides or wedges.
“It is all about a feeling of comfort, ease and a new attitude. It’s apparel not only for the 15 days of Chinese New Year (CNY), but a lifestyle, one that celebrates vintage finery,” explained Leung. “Fashion is meant to excite, and Chinese wear always needs a shake-up and constant renewal.”
Mayfair’s treatment of this refined look is typically sensible.
Fine cotton is a firm favourite and this year is no exception. There are border prints used to great effect: large floral bouquets splashed onto pale or bright backgrounds, flexible knits that mould and flatter, crisp cottons and sharp linens. The range comprises finely trimmed, brightly coloured tops and cheongsam with muted lace-edged monotones.
If you can’t find your size or length in ready-to-wear, Mayfair will make it for you. “But remember, a Chinese dress with all the attendant features that make it so unique – fine trims, well-structured collar, handmade buttons, impeccable slits – needs skill and time to put together,” said Leung.
Prices are from RM299 to RM999. Mayfair is located at Bukit Bintang Plaza, Kuala Lumpur (Tel: 03-2145 9936).
Dedicated to mama
MOTHERS is a major influence in Melinda Looi’s latest ready-to-wear collection this year.
Looi’s CNY range, entitled The Qi Of Qipao, is inspired by vivid childhood memories of her mother’s hour-glass figure displayed in an elegant, fitted qipao, her dainty feet encased in pointy shoes, her face framed with cat-eye glasses and holding a clutch in one hand.
As soft and feminine as she looked, there was also strength in her persona, an energy (or qi) that her whole being emanated. As a seamstress, Looi’s mother possessed a gift for creating the qipao, earning recognition for her precise cutting of the figure-hugging Chinese garment.
At the height of her career, she would often be at her sewing machine late into the night, working to complete a seemingly unending stream of orders from her clients. Till this day, she still sews the qipao, evidence of a spirit and passion that transcends the passage of time.
Hence, The Qi Of Qipao celebrates strong women who are fuelled by passion and a dedication to their art and families. Inspired by these attributes so evident in her mother, Looi created a collection of knee-length qipao.
The collection consists of tops and bottoms in pure silks, printed chiffons, cotton and georgette – all in vivid colours, retaining a sense of fluidity and femininity. Pivotal shades include yellow (her mother’s favourite colour), red, green, ivory and coral.
“This CNY, you can expect lots of block colours,” says Looi. “In my collection, for example, I have contrasted blocks of red with teal, mustard with coral, mustard with blue, and experimented with many other interesting colour combinations.”
Looi, who is now a mother of three, expressed that her collection is about a deep-felt appreciation for women’s dedication to their families. “Strong women have kept their families together over the ages, and it is only fitting that we celebrate them on occasions like CNY, which is all about family unity and togetherness,” explains the designer, whose campaign stars actress/TV host Angel Wong Chui Ling.
Prices range from RM299 to RM899. Available at Parkson @ Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, online at parkson.com.my and Looi’s showroom at Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, KL.