For one week Pavilion, Malaysia’s most popular shopping destination, becomes a fishbowl of sorts. International media, bloggers and local celebrities flood the gates and hundreds of consumers look down on its Centre Court from the rafters.
The reason? Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW) Ready To Wear 2015 – five days that expose the burgeoning fashion capital as one where guests and residents from all walks of life drop everything for the local and international designers on show.
Now in its third year and having welcomed 100 000 guests in 2014, KLFW is gaining traction. This year the stakes were as high as ever, with five foreign invited designers from Singapore, Indonesia, Turkey, the UK and our very own Aussie representative parading models alongside dozens of designers participating in 27 shows over the 5 days.
The lineup stayed true to the country’s eclectic nature, discovering new talent in the Air Asia Runway Ready Designer Search, paying tribute to Malaysia’s religious roots in the Islamic Fashion Festival and giving voice to designers locally and globally.
“My tagline is ‘Malaysia for the world’! With the economy crisis we want to push our local consumers to buy local and look global,” revealed KLFW Founder Andrew Tan. “KLFW is progressing, it is now a national event and the plan is to promote our talent. We have so many Malaysian designers that we are very proud of, some of whom have made it into the fashion capitals of the world.”
Backstage, the hair and beauty teams are given rather difficult tasks. Five or six shows a day, some with up to six designers, two or three hair and beauty looks for each show and nary a break in sight. It’s no easy feat to create looks that complement each varied design aesthetic and an array of roughly sixty models from Malaysia, the Ukraine, New Zealand, the Philippines, Brazil, Italy and other international destinations. However, the teams from L’Oréal Professionnel and Bobbi Brown handle it with aplomb.
The secret for Hair Director Vincent Ting, the Brand Manager of KLFW’s salon partner Miko Galère and the operator of their Pavilion branch, was L’Oréal Professionnel’s Techni.Art Fresh Dust, used to continuously refresh the hair whilst the styling team piles product onto repeat models. Another necessity was softer hairsprays – keeping hair intact during the shows, but workable straight after.
Another seemingly insurmountable task? Handling the beauty amidst Kuala Lumpur’s intense August humidity, a haze of heat that makes 34 degrees feel more like 50. “The key to adjusting your skincare for humid climates is to apply moisture mainly to your cheeks,” shared Australian native Felix Ngyen, Bobbi Brown’s Education and Artistry Manager for Asia-Pacific. “If you keep your T-zone sheerer, it will balance out as the day goes on.”
As a Ready to Wear fashion week, the hair and beauty looks had to have a commercial appeal. In makeup, soft brows, nude finishes and bare lips dominated the trends. In hair, the L’Oréal Professionnel team created glamorous curls, angular ponytails, detailed braids and sleek buns – often all in one show.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Take the KLFW opener, Kittie Yiyi, which paired multi-coloured pigtails with an even brighter hair accessory and big stick on lips. The men’s looks also dabbled in creativity, with a unique fringe making an appearance for Commodity, Zakwan Anuar and Freedom by Eric Chong.
Graphic eyes were the focus in the makeup sector. This was highlighted in the 0 to 10 show that utilised strong black liner right down the centre of the eye, reflecting a strong anime aesthetic. BSN’s Fashion Night Out complemented three design teams with bold, top-heavy black eyeliner that switched mid-show to tribal-style white liner for closer Hatta Dolmat.
These more artistic looks stay true to the aesthetically adventurous, beauty addicted and fashion-forward city. One where women are opting for brighter hair colours and shorter, fashionable crops (in part due to the extreme heat), men place a heavy focus on skincare, foundation and concealer and the consumers turn out in droves to witness KLFW from the sidelines.
Pavilion, which anchors what has been referred to as the ‘Champs-Élysées of Malaysia’, is the ideal place to witness these trends. High ends brands neighbour Islamic dress, whilst the colourful fashion choices of the KLFW front row prove that this is a fashion city to be taken seriously.
In the middle of KLFW came Aussie invited label Saveus by Jarred Baker, whose mix of commercial and artistic designs were united by bold stripes, crisp whites and an interesting animated dog pattern. Coral eye embellishments and a slicked back wet look complemented the show.
With models, designers and media hailing from all over the world, the focus was dually on multiculturalism and the opportunity to showcase Kuala Lumpur as an international fashion haven.
“We want to make sure that local and foreign visitors are aware of what Kuala Lumpur is all about,” Andrew said. “It’s very important to take our local designers and use the international models to give them that confidence that they can break into the global market.” For Andrew, Malaysian designers learning from the international talent on show whilst foreign journalists discover just how much Malaysian designers have to offer is a win-win.
“People are very fashion forward here, they take it very seriously, which I find really inspiring,” Felix confirmed from his experiences at KLFW. “They are really committed to it, they own it. They’re like ‘this is who I am, this what I wear’, and they’re really proud of it.” Through more than 90 designers that took the stage, that confidence emerged as the must-have accessory of the season.
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