Abstract Design

Abstract Design
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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 27, 2016.



KNOWN for mixing textures and dramatic finishing, celebrated local designer Khoon Hooi’s spring/summer 2016 collection does not disappoint with his signature brand of sophistication and femininity. Titled Gouache SS16, the collection stays true to its name, mimicking the painting technique used with watercolours on a blank canvas.

Establishing his eponymous label in 1999, Khoon Hooi has received recognition both locally and internationally. He has certainly taken the Malaysian fashion scene by storm, making headlines for his immediately recognisable dose of glamour and romanticism.

Held at Uppercase, APW Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, the Khoon Hooi spring/summer 2016 show was presented against a backdrop of creativity and nostalgia with the space exuding a strong retro vibe. The collection was debuted to a packed crowd that ranged from chic socialites to the young, edgy and fashionably inclined — it was apparent from the beginning that everyone felt as though they had got themselves a hot ticket to one of the most anticipated fashion shows to kick-start the year.

As the lights dimmed and models made their way down the catwalk, it was easy to see upon first impression that the collection plays on silhouette and volume. By emphasising the movement of fabrics, the skirts from the collection are draped asymmetrically, allowing them to flow freely on the wave seams. Imitating the petal folds of the calla lily flower, the backs of the dresses and tops are pleated to accentuate the volume of the outfit.

The nylon dresses from the collection contain an ethereal element, which is further accentuated with a generous use of pastel shades. Apart from softer colours, the use of black fabric in the collection enhances the strong romantic element that has become intrinsic to the Khoon Hooi brand. This was also further highlighted with detailed lace and beaded flower embellishments.

The use of luxurious materials and fine detailing emphasises the label’s vision of complementing indulgence with delicate beading techniques and feather embellishments. Different textures and prints come together in a unique harmonised blend with materials such as lace with nylon and raffia with brocade, which bring to mind a brush mix on a colour palette as models sashayed down the runway.

The feather embellishments with the use of raffia on dress and jacket hems give the outfits a softer look and a grassy element to them. Several items from the collection such as wide-legged trousers and brocade jackets can easily be worn as separates, allowing the wearer to mix and match.

Aside from its play on textures and delicate detailing, there is also a nod to futurism in the collection with an interesting use of alien motifs in the floral beadwork. With wild flowers as the inspiration, the motifs and avant-garde shapes give the collection a sense of uniqueness. The futuristic element was also highlighted on the runway with several models wearing lace headdresses walking down the catwalk to the tune of an eccentric soundtrack playing in the background.

With this impressive spring summer 2016 collection, expect to see many Khoon Hooi pieces on a red carpet or magazine cover in the near future.