Those celebrating Eid are probably ready to splurge on their clothes this year as most Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted. Options speaks to three homegrown fashion designers about the inspiration for their Raya 2022 collections designed to welcome exuberant customers, and the challenges they faced during the pandemic.
Fashion and bridal designer Nurita Harith is most well-known for her use of chiffon in soft and neutral colours to create sophisticated pieces. “The material has always been my first choice. It is soft, lightweight and flattering for most body shapes,” says Kuala Lumpur-based Nurita.
She has launched the Lebaran Luxe 2022 and ready-to-wear collections for this Raya season. The former, which consists of bespoke pieces, was launched in early January, giving both patrons and the designer ample time for consultation sessions as well as to prepare orders.
Meanwhile, the ready-to-wear line, still available to order on Zalora, presents 58 looks. The wide range of baju kurung comes in plain and floral designs in chiffon and satin, and are enhanced with shantung lace and pleats.
When the occasion calls for glitz and glamour, pieces like Zahara, which has a dramatic drape around the chest, are ideal. On the other hand, Eden and Bloom are designed with minimalists in mind. The flowy chiffon dresses have classic cuts and are accented with lace of a similar colour.
For this year, Nurita incorporated the magnolia flower motif into her designs. “We have always kept the main feel of our Raya collection as soft, feminine and elegant, and this flower has all those qualities.
“We strive to make our dresses as unique and exclusive as possible. We customise the colours to a specific tone, using unique placings for our own print to make each design different, besides experimenting with different silhouettes,” she explains.
While the clothes turned out as conceptualised, Nurita says the process of working on the collection was not as smooth as she had hoped because many Covid-19 restrictions were still in place at the time.
“It was tough as we weren’t able to work efficiently for the first three months due to unexpected problems. We needed to start sampling early because there were many stages to [the process], such as dyeing the materials and printing samples before we could start sewing them. Everything was delayed and directly affected the other plans we had for the brand,” Nurita reveals.
The disruption forced the label to withdraw its participation in Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week last November. “We were only able to focus on one major thing. It usually takes eight months to prepare a collection. The intensity of making sure the stocks are as accurate as our samples, and maintaining the quality without compromising the timeline is very tough,” she says.
Despite the obstacles, the label managed to collaborate with local fashion accessories brand Milliot & Co for the Pastel Allure collection. This partnership resulted in Nurita Harith’s maiden involvement in designing shoes and handbags. The aim is to match Milliot & Co accessories in neutral palettes with the fashion brand’s ready-to-wear baju kurung.
According to Nurita, festive style should be “elegant and comfortable, but it’s got to be you” as well. “I love good shoes, which is why I decided to work with Milliot & Co to complete our Raya series,” she explains when asked about her go-to festive accessories.
More than 50 bags and shoes have been curated for customers to choose from. The bags have geometric shapes while the footwear — flat and platform sandals — are open-toed and have a square base, ensuring breathability and stability. The collections can be viewed and purchased at its shared pop-up store in Bangsar Village 2, KL.
Over at Innai Red, founder and managing director Izrin Ismail says the brand, as with most businesses, faced challenges in the past two years.
“We cannot help it when our staff sometimes contract the virus. When we come to work, everyone’s a close contact at the end of the day. I have many elderly workers who are above 65 and they have been with me for more than 14 years. I need to think about them first by monitoring them for two to three days.
“We have problems with the supply chain as well. Our ready-to-wear [line] is produced in China and there was a lockdown recently at the port, causing a two-week delay. There are also strict rules newly imposed by the authorities that say workers can only work at certain hours of the day. A lot of these latest regulations have disrupted plans to deliver products in a timely manner,” shares Izrin.
Realising that some things are beyond her control, she divulges that she has become more patient both as a person and a business owner. “I practise Zen energy a lot more nowadays. Whenever I hear an issue arise, I am more relaxed and will not be so caught up in it. When I’m told the factory’s operations are shut down for two weeks because half of the workers are Covid-positive, what can I say?”
Obstacles aside, Innai Red never fails to impress with its impeccable tailoring. The Majestic Raya theme from the label’s luxe line is a continuation of last year’s ready-to-wear collection, Gula Melaka. “We got a very good response from customers. Seeing that the whole collection was sold out online during the MCO (Movement Control Order), we thought it would be a good idea to expand the concept and do something with Melaka.”
Innai Red conducted the campaign’s photo shoot at YTL’s The Majestic Malacca to showcase the dresses’ luxurious detailing. “The VP of marketing from YTL is a dear customer of ours, so we wanted to do something together. As our concept was more towards heritage, I thought the hotel was the best place to shoot the collection. With The Majestic Malacca as the backdrop, our clothes really stood out,” the founder of the 17-year-old label says.
The collection, limited to only 100 pieces for the 20 designs, showcases Innai Red’s expertise in using brocades, floral jacquards, Chantilly lace, charmeuse satin, shantung silk and organza.
As for its ready-to-wear Chinta Raya collection, Izrin had to deal with unforeseen circumstances. “We were supposed to work with a celebrity but she contracted Covid when we scheduled the photo shoot. The shoot was on a scale where it involved a lot of team members; it was so hard for us to change the date.”
Instead, they decided to shoot at Istana Bandar in Banting, Selangor, which was supposed to be the setting for their bridal collection. “I’d always wanted to shoot at an istana lama. Since we were short on time, we just made use of whatever ideas we had in our archives.”
The Chinta Raya outfits have classic names such as Embun, Amina and Kuntum, inspired by the glamorous era of Studio Jalan Ampas and its stars Saloma, Mariani and Normadiah. Chinta Raya invites women to explore a modern style of traditional dressing. The contemporary dresses can be worn as complete traditional outfits or as separates paired with everyday pieces.
When designing Raya collections, the founder of eponymous brand Alia Bastamam always keeps in mind how her creations can be worn again or restyled after the festival is over. “I make modern tops that are also suitable to pair with jeans, tailored shorts, on top of long skirts — whatever suits your style. I pay attention to the colour palette because for my Alia B girls, if there are no pastels, it’s not Raya. I always stick to the core aesthetic of Alia B as well, which is resort,” the designer says.
The Alia Bastamam Eid 2022 collection has expressive designs that allow the wearer to be chic in monochromatic beige one day or look like a goddess the next.
As she focuses more on resort wear each year, Alia has designed the collection to segue from Raya to resort — sleek and modern outfits interwoven with traditional elements.
The secondary line of Alia Bastamam’s 2022 Raya series is named “Dreams”. This collection captures the costumier’s journey in reclaiming a sense of calmness within herself after living with the pandemic for the past two years. “While working on the ensembles, I found something to beautifully reflect hopes and dreams that I could share with my Alia B girls. So I aptly named the collection ‘Dreams’ as it is wrapped in effortless romance fleeting above the clouds.”
A student of architecture before embracing fashion design, Alia employs clean lines for her designs. Pleats are used to create lines, while the soft fabric flows and drapes curves at every move. The sarong features prominently in both collections.
The versatility of these collections can be seen from sarong ensembles that will pair well with white tank tops, and three-piece outfits that can be split up to be worn for entertaining at home, attending dinner parties or visiting the beach.
While the sarong has always been part of the brand’s Raya collection, she has given the garment an update. “This season, I’ve developed an innovative slip-on sarong that’s very easy to wear. The Nova Sarong in sage is the best-selling look so far. And it’s a personal favourite,” Alia shares.
Celebrities Ameera Khan and Daiyan Trisha have been named the faces of the Dreams collection. “I call them my angels and no other girls would have been more perfect for this than them. Ameera and Daiyan were my first choice,” says Alia.
To realise the dreamy aspect of the series, the brand teamed up with long-time collaborator Kayangan Gallery, which brought its dream sequence to life, while AM Studio captured the mood and story perfectly. Ameera and Daiyan were photographed wearing pieces from the collection against a backdrop of clouds. “What’s dreamier than being up in the clouds?” the designer asks.
The pandemic has drastically changed the way people work and Alia and team have adapted to the new way of getting things done. “Having to follow mandatory SOPs is just a part of the routine, so it was no challenge at all,” she declares.
At the early stage of designing, the idea of incorporating the loungewear concept into her Raya collections did cross Alia’s mind as it was unclear if Malaysians would remain at home again this Raya season. But upon seeing that people were eager to have a big celebration during Eid, she made sure the outfits were fancy and festival-appropriate.
That aside, the choice of fabric was still her top priority. “Wearability in our weather is a very important factor when it comes to fabric selection. I will always improve materials based on feedback. I test them myself because I personally need breathable clothes in our climate,” says Alia.
This article first appeared on Apr 25, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.