Whether on the feet of an English princess, at the red carpet on a Hollywood star, or being strutted down the runway in London or New York, the designs of Malaysian fashion designers have definitely made their mark on the global fashion scene. Bringing in inspiration from local and foreign elements, our Malaysian designers have made fashion design an art to be appreciated with their delicate and eloquent application of aesthetics to clothing and accessories. Their work and expertise are definitely valued by the fashion savvy whether local or abroad, and have definitely brought Malaysia’s fashion scene and standard to a whole new level.
They have infused life to what we wear and choose to showcase, with their skilful combinations of materials, colors, designs and patterns transforming what would be a mere garment to a piece of artwork, a tangible form of their artistic expression. Here, we at Top 10 of Malaysia would like to pay tribute to the 10 most highly esteemed fashion designers in Malaysia.
Jimmy Choo has become a worldwide known brand. One associated with class, style and high fashion. Not surprising then, would Dato’ Jimmy Choo top our list. Born into a family of shoemakers, Jimmy Choo made his first shoe when he was only 11 years old. His fashion industry beginnings can be traced back to his workshop in Hackney, North London which he opened in 1986 by renting an old hospital building. He came to the verge of international notability when his creations were featured in a record eight pages in a 1988 issue of Vogue. Patronage from Diana, Princess of Wales, from 1990 further boosted his image and by 1996, he co-founded Jimmy Choo Ltd with British Vogue magazine accessories editor Tamara Mellon. After selling his 50% stake in the company in 2001, he has since concentrated his work on the exclusive Jimmy Choo Couture line produced under license from Jimmy Choo Ltd.
To make a woman feel bold, beautiful, sexy, dramatic and glamorous is what ZangToi’s designs strive to do. And that is precisely what ZangToi designs have achieved, which is why he is second on our list. Not surprising then, would this New York-based designer have styled many glamorous celebrities such as Sharon Stone, Ivana Trump, Kirstie Alley, Meg Ryan, and many others. Be it the House of Toi signature collection or the “Z” collection, his moderately priced bridge line, his creations continue to pamper today’s woman with uncompromising style, glamour and romance.
Third on our list is none other than Bernard Chandran. After graduating from the Paris American Academy, Bernard Chandran became the first non-European to win the coveted Silk, Cut Young Designers Award and the Open European Contest for Look of the Year 2000 in 1991. Two years later, he returned home and launched his own line of clothing. In 2005, his first Autumn/Winter 2006 Ready-To-Wear collection was showcased at the London Fashion Weekend and since then, Bernard Chandran pieces have caught the eye of celebrities including the likes of Lady Gaga and Estelle, who wore his designs when she won her first Grammy at the Grammy Awards in 2009. London loves him and so do we!
The driving force of international high end fashion and its presence in Malaysia, Farah Khan definitely makes our list at number four. Dato’ Farah Khan is most known for being the President and Founder of The Melium Group. Created in 1989, it is the cornerstone of Malaysia’s luxury fashion and lifestyle retailing industry and has over 50 international brands under its umbrella. Other than being a renowned and respected style icon and high end lifestyle entrepreneur, Farah Khan is a respected fashion designer in her own right. In 2008, Farah Khan launched her fashion label FARAH KHAN, of which her Spring/Summer 2008 collection was sold in as many as 31 cities worldwide.
Melinda Looi is an award-winning fashion designer famous for her signature avant-garde and vintage style. She has won numerous accolades including the title Designer of the Year three times, twice at the Malaysian International Fashion Awards and latest in 2009 at the Mercedes-Benz Stylo Fashion Awards. In fact, within a 10-year span of creating her unique pieces, the designer’s prêt-a-porter wear and couture line has won an international clientele from the US, Middle East, South Africa, China, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Celebrities seen donning her designs include the likes of Cameron Diaz, Britney Spears and Mena Suvari.
Faisol Abdullah was the man behind the world’s most expensive dress, the Nightingale of KL, in 2009. Created at a cost of RM100 million, it is encrusted with 751 diamonds weighing over 1100 carats from international jeweller Mouawad and includes a spectacular 70 carat tear-drop diamond which sparkles on the gown’s left bustier. It is not a surprise then with such formidable creativity,Faisol Abdullah would be named Malaysia’s Designer of the Year 2011. He is also currently the CEO and Creative Director of Jendela KL, an award-winning lifestyle brand.
Hailed as “the man who defined the club-obsessed fashion of the early Nineties” by UK’s The Independent, Dexter Wong definitely deserves his mark on our list. His designs have been worn by famous musicians such as David Bowie, U2 and Robbie Williams. In 2004, Dexter Wong launched a diffusion line named Peoples Market, targeting the youthful generation that are passionate about music and lifestyle. His other projects include designing his own successful range for Lens at Topman.
Lew Fong Voon
Lewre, none other than the brainchild of local designer Lew Fong Voon, boasts worldwide stores in Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, United Arab Emirates and many others. All these started with a dream Lew had since young in building a brand that could rival international labels. Lewre has succeeded in doing precisely that by focusing on its core competency - its niche design and good quality.
Khoon Hooi rode against the conventional tide when he found success abroad, although first launching and basing his career in Malaysia. Breaking into the fashion scene when he won the Asian Young Designers Award in 1997, KhoonHooi’s success can be attributed to his perseverance and never-give-up approach, seen when during a holiday trip to Paris, he lugged along his portfolio and boldly knocked on the door of as many fashion agents as he could. His hard work paid off when in 2006, he was one of three designers, and the only Malaysian designer chosen by an agent to be represented in the US while showing at the Singapore Fashion Week.
Edmund Ser is a locally-based designer best known for his Edmund Ser, Spade, and SER fashion labels. Trained in London, he started out as a tailor in 1980 at the legendary West Point Fashion House in Pertama Complex before he opened his first Edmundser shop in Merlin Hotel (now The Concorde) in 1990 specializing in made-to-measure women’s office wear. Ser has been a guest judge on Project Runway Malaysia, the Malaysia Young Designers’ competition and the Miss Malaysia Pageant.