Fashion weeks and fashion shows have seen much upheaval in format in the past two years, given the obvious constraints of physical distancing. While many chose to go virtual or “phygital” (a form of omnichannel marketing), one thing is certain — most brands have upped their game to elevate the experience of viewing their collections. For the recent Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Kuala Lumpur (MBFWKL) 2021, the luxury carmaker opted for a more traditional runway format, but holding the event in an arts space — that, too, one of the most architecturally interesting in KL — gave fashion brands and guests alike a touch of the unusual.
This was a low-key, elegant affair that kept schedules short: The whole event, which comprehensively showcased the Malaysian fashion landscape through the decades, took place over three nights from Dec 1 to 3. At klpac’s versatile Pentas 1 space, Mercedes-Benz created a theatrical atmosphere with two cars flanking a slender runway — fashion was given the top billing, of course. Guests were thrilled with the chance to glam up again and posed for photographs at the red-carpet walkway leading to klpac as well as the reception space right outside the theatre entrance.
Naturally, all precautions were adhered to: Everyone maintained their distance and Mercedes-Benz even handed out bejewelled masks to keep guests safe and stylish. The celebratory setting was more than deserved after at least two years without such events, and MBFWKL is much anticipated as it is a platform for up-and-coming as well as seasoned local fashion designers to showcase their collections.
“At Mercedes-Benz, the company expresses modern luxury in the 21st century with an acute focus on creating ‘sensual purity’ designs through traditional craftsmanship and innovative technology to create authentic and emotional experiences. Similarly, we aim to push boundaries in other areas that can provide a holistic lifestyle experience to our customers, who understand and appreciate luxury in all forms, fashion included,” said Sagree Sardien, president and CEO, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia.
“MBFWKL also highlights Fashion Futures, a design competition that aims to promote and support budding talent among young designers in the industry. Through the Fashion Futures Initiative, Mercedes-Benz endeavours to create the opportunity to nurture these innovative and entrepreneurial talents by providing them with a platform to catapult their careers further in the fashion industry,” she added.
While the bulk of the 11 participants sent their creations down the runways on the first two nights, the finale saw collections by industry veterans Eric Choong, Samantha Chua from Emmanuel Haute Couture, and Khoon Hooi. Also of great interest was the MBFWKL Fashion Futures Design Competition, a new annual initiative that will become a key component of the event. It targets Malaysian designers with six months to four years of working experience in the industry, and requires the five finalists to produce four sets of original ready-to-wear looks based on a theme set by the organisers.
This year’s winner, Liew Hung Yi, was awarded top marks for his impeccable construction and couture-like sensibility. Titled Who Killed the Butterfly?, his collection combined Western clothing with silhouettes from Japanese kimonos, exploring imperialism, orientalism and cultural conflict. Liew won an all-expenses-paid trip to attend an international Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week event, which will afford him the chance to meet renowned international designers and gain invaluable exposure to the industry.
Mercedes-Benz is committed to future-proofing the responsible growth of its fashion partnerships. Highlighting best practices and aligning itself with creatives who champion values such as outstanding and intuitive design, creativity and innovation, the carmaker has supported nearly 170 designers in over 30 platforms around the world, becoming a leader in ensuring a responsible future in fashion.
For more on the participating designers and their collections, see here.
This article first appeared on Dec 13, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.