Of peacocks and perfection

Behind the scenes: Shoot for the lookbook. Many months of hard work went into the latest collection, which is currently being shown at trade shows in Europe.

PHEW! Finally, the export collection is done and ready to fly off with me tomorrow to trade events in Europe.

This may sound very glamorous, but it actually boils down to hard work. Initially, when we were asked to join some trade events for Spring Summer 2014, we were not sure whether to say yes.

We had stopped exhibiting at tradeshows overseas a few years ago when the global economy took a turn for the worse, and buyers became very reluctant to spend. But it would appear that they are back in full force, which is good news for us, and we are once again working happily with our agents and buyers.

In fact, the sudden burst of international trade has inspired us to set up a unit dedicated just to export – Melinda Looi International. For this team, which was formalised just some months ago, I have brought together amazing people whom I’ve had the good fortune of working with for many years. We all share the same dream – to bring Malaysian fashion to a higher level.

But back to my ready-to-wear Spring Summer 2014 collection. Once again, I have succumbed to my love for birds, and the collection has been inspired by none other than the king of the feathered kind – peacocks. If you have been following this column, you would know that I have always found birds fascinating.

I am in awe of the freedom that being able to fly brings; the ability to soar and traverse land and sea. I love the way these creatures of the sky look – so regal and graceful – with their wings outstretched as they swoop and glide. Who knows, perhaps I was a bird in my past life!

To me, the peacock represents glory, immortality, royalty and also incorruptibility. Inspired by the elaborate colours of the bird, I have introduced bright royal blue, shades of green from jade to aqua, amber and orange, lemon, black and ivory into the collection.

Using my perennial favourites of flowing chiffons, seductive lace, rich jacquard, duchess satin, silk crepe and tulle, I have maintained my signature look in which colours and textures are mixed, and different layers create interesting effects.

In many ways, this comeback export collection marks a new beginning for the label. Inspired by the near-perfect peacock, which stands as a reminder of what we are capable of achieving, if we put in the effort, I have resolved to further improve myself – both in my professional and personal spheres.

Professionally, I feel it is time to reassess all I have learnt over the years and start from the beginning again. I believe in any creative space, one should always be open to new influences so that one’s designs keep evolving. And this is what I intend to do. I have received many comments on my ready-to-wear export collection, and will bear these in mind as I prepare my next, improved collection.

It is funny because, as I was flipping The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, I stumbled upon a couple of life lessons advocated by the author, Robin Sharma, which resonate perfectly with my recent resolve.

One lesson, as Sharma puts it, is: “to lead your best life, do your best work”. By this, he means that we should all work with passion, so that what we do will have impact and make a difference in the lives around us.

In fact, all his lessons are reminders on what it means to live a good life, which has nothing to do with owning 10-bedroom mansions, driving fast cars and holidaying in St Moritz. Rather, Sharma believes our lives are about giving and contributing, and the lasting impact we make on those around us.

He describes it as “standing for something bigger than yourself”, by which he means that everyone is here on earth for a reason and we all have a responsibility to make our lives matter; to “be of service to as many people as possible”.

I did not have time to read this book properly, but was sufficiently intrigued by it to want to do so. I also felt it was appropriate to think about “the good life” and contributing to society, especially as we celebrate the 56th year of Independence of our country.

Malaysia may not be perfect, but which country is? More than most countries, in fact, it has given us a generally peaceful and comfortable environment in which to live. For our part, we should “live our best lives” and contribute towards the nation’s further progress.

I already have a long list of things to do once I am back from my trade tour. I will have to start my couture 2013/2014 which will be showcased in November at the Bangkok International Fashion Week at Siam Paragon. I also have to design my collections for the year-end festive season.

So, the next half of the year promises to be supremely busy, but I am glad. I feel blessed to be occupied and, hopefully, to be able to add to a more beautiful life.

Mel’s Place is a fortnightly column by Melinda Looi for The Star newspaper.


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