Colourful season

str2_db_p4_4cols                                  Visitors at the columnist’s booth at the Pure London trade fair.


A collection inspired by paintings is in store next year, while a disappointing getaway leaves our columnist annoyed.

After months of Spring/Summer 2015 sampling and Raya tailoring, I finally gave myself time to recharge. While I’m currently on a week off, my sales team is in London for the Pure London trade fair with the new collection. This is our second time at the fair and I’m hoping the results will be even better than the last season!

Next year’s Spring/Summer collection is the most colourful ready-to-wear I’ve designed to date. For the collection, I worked closely with André Mendes, a very talented Brazilian artist whom I got to know as a friend recently. I used his paintings as prints for my designs and am very pleased with the outcome – in my opinion, the pieces look spectacular!

When I first saw Mendes’ paintings, a quote from Canadian author Julie Hockley’s book, Crow’s Row, came to mind: “Colours. Would it be green or blue today? Maybe white – my favourite. A dark voice in the back of my mind offered no colour at all as an alternative. I smothered that voice.

“The days of no colour were simply too hard to bear. I needed color today.” In other words, his paintings are a riot of colours, which is what attracted me to his work. And this attraction has only grown over the years, as I’ve got to know the artist better.

The prints in my Spring/Summer 2015 collection are based on two works by Mendes, while the materials used are my perennial favourites of lace and chiffon as well as organza and, more unconventionally, Ramie (fibre) and metallic leather.

The designs too are unorthodox, juxtaposing diametrically opposed elements to create an unexpected yet alluring result. Boxy tops are matched with girly-girl cut dresses in summery colours ranging from melon oranges to sunflower yellows and cobalt blues.

Many designs are embellished with crystals and beads, incorporated among patchwork and embroidery to recreate the vibrancy of the paintings as closely as possible. If all goes well, I should be able to showcase the collection in Malaysia soon!

For my Raya break, I decided to spend a couple of nights with a group of friends at a rainforest reserve. Surrounded by bamboo trees, it offers a magical view of a lake. The rooms were great too – clean and modern, with open-air showers as well as outdoor bathtubs.

Unfortunately, the food wasn’t great. The breakfast buffet was very limited and the quality fell below expectations. The disappointment didn’t end with the low quality of the food however – I actually found a piece of plastic tape in my chicken dish.

The manager’s reaction when I complained was less than satisfactory and I got the impression that I wasn’t the first to bring up the issue of unwanted elements in the cuisine. If we weren’t on a package deal, and were paying full price instead, I don’t think I would have been able to keep calm. Even the Raya special wasn’t good, it was too spicy and simply not authentic.

The children’s food cost the same as that for adults, but wasn’t suitable for them. When I requested the chefs to cook some eggs for the kids to eat, they weren’t willing to until I mentioned that I would pay extra for it. Considering how scenic the resort was, the food and service were a great disappointment.

Our package covered some activities such as night-time jungle trekking, cycling and bamboo rafting but we only managed to do the bamboo rafting because neither the trekking nor the cycling was advised for young children. One of my biggest complaints about the resort would have to be that it isn’t child-friendly. Given its great location in the rainforest, educational activities to introduce children to the fragility and importance of the environment would be worth looking into. Nonetheless, the bamboo rafting was a lot of fun, and I would definitely recommend it, but be prepared to get wet!

On our last night, we ended up driving 40 minutes into town to get our hands on some yummy local food – a real treat after the gruel we were served at the resort itself.

It is such a shame that the resort was below par as our natural environment has so much to offer – from beaches to rainforests. I wish all hospitality operators would take a leaf from places like Pangkor Laut and other YTL resorts, which have maintained high standards for years. If you’re thinking of a holiday getaway, I would definitely not hesitate in recommending these places.


> Award-winning fashion designer Melinda Looi tries to marry consumerism and materialism with environmental consciousness. She believes her greatest creations are her children. Send your feedback to

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