Quintessentially yours

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THIS year, I was not able to be a part of the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week. I didn’t even get to see any of the events live, but managed to follow it on social media. And I must say I thought Andrew Tan (the genius behind Andrews Models) and everyone else involved did a fantastic job. There was so much creativity, and so many talented young designers – it’s exactly what we need to bring KLFW to the next level!

So, what kept me away? Well, for the last two months, I’ve been spending a lot of my time – almost every day recently – at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas in Kuala Lumpur. No, I don’t have any classical music talent that I’ve kept secret. I was asked by dance doyen/choreographer Datuk Ramli Ibrahim to help with the costumes for Quintessence – a collaboration between him, Dua Space Dance and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), conducted by Fabio Mechetti.

To be honest, when Datuk Ramli called me out of the blue, telling me about Quintessence and asking if I could design the costumes, I was hesitant. With Raya round the corner, my clients are my main priority. But I realised that opportunities like these are few and far between, and since designing for the theatre has always been one of my passions, I didn’t need much convincing.

And I’m so glad I took this on. It was wonderful working with Datuk Ramli, not only because of his amazing work ethics, but also because he is kind and very humble. His team at Sutra foundation and members of the Dua Space Dance were equally lovely to work with. It was a great experience working with the best dancing talent in the country. Thank you, guys, for this unforgettable experience.

Quintessence uses seminal works by Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky – Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Shéhérazade (costumes by Sutra) and The Firebird (in collaboration with Dua Space Dance Theatre and costumes by myself) – which were re-envisioned by Datuk Ramli. Typically, he explored indigenous Asian dance vocabulary to redefine Asian contemporary dance. The costumes I designed for The Firebird were inspired by his Asian touch to the piece. For the costumes, I had to do quite a bit of research on the music and dance. I also worked closely with everyone in the group, trying to understand what a dancer needs for easy movement and what would look best under stage lighting.

For the costumes, we had to design head-to-toe outfits for the four main characters (the Firebird, the main Princess, the Prince and the magician) as well as six monsters, six other Princesses and the Golden Apple tree. I used mainly tulle, silk saree material, linen, lace and jersey. In addition, I was also involved in the props.

The shows were a huge success, with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah gracing the premier on June 21. The Dewan Filharmonik Petronas was bursting at the seams that night, and the performers received a standing ovation – I couldn’t have been more proud to be part of such a wonderful team!

Aside from Quintessence, I’ve been busy designing and marketing my Raya 2014 collection for both Emel by Melinda Looi ready-to-wear as well as my tailor-made couture clients. It’s wonderful to be productive, especially at this time of the year. With every project that I take on, I learn so much from everyone around me – clients, partners, everyone.

Be sure to check out my new Emel Raya collection at www.emelbymelindalooi.com. You will see an exclusive collection designed in collaboration with Diana Danielle – whom it is always a pleasure to work with. As most of you may know, Emel is my annual Raya collection, part of the proceeds from which are donated to charity. This year, Diana has chosen IJN Foundation to be the recipient of our donation. We found out that there is a two-month-old baby girl due for heart surgery and have requested that our donation be channelled towards her procedure. Let’s all pray that everything goes well and she recovers as soon as possible.

I have one more important announcement to make. This year, not only will you be able to wear your beautiful new Raya clothes, but you also stand a chance to win a new car to drive back to your hometown in style! Check out our website for more details – you might be the lucky owner of a brand new Volkswagen car. We thought we’d add something extra in this year, to say thank you to our fans for their continual support.

Happy shopping and good luck!

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 star2@thestar.com.my.

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