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In The Press
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Prom night, say most parents, is an American fad but just like any other American product, the trend is fast gaining interest among local students. University students have their prom nights, so do students from colleges and private institutions. But how about 12-year-olds, who a year on, will step into secondary school?  

“Oh, they have prom nights too, only at a different level,” said Kris Wong, one half of fashion house That Special Occasion located at Desa Sri Hartamas. Kris said these pre-teenagers were mostly from international schools.  

Kris, and his partner Anna Lee Rajakumar, is one among many fashion designers in the Klang Valley that caters to the growing need among students residing in Malaysia . Prom nights are like weddings. They are seasonal, celebrated twice yearly, in June and July or November and December. These are the busiest months for the two and while a majority of their customers come from around the Klang Valley there are others from as far as Seremban and Johor, too.  

Most of those who come to That Special Occasion are youngsters with money to boot and are not satisfied with off-the-rack pieces. “Money is a small thing to them as their parents are just as enthusiastic to see their youngsters looking good on the night,” said Kris. Most of the clothes at the outlet are made-to-measure, the preferred designs being large flowy gowns worn with tube tops.

“I think it is a very American thing. It’s something they gathered from watching American movies and what goes on in Hollywood,” said Kris. While the younger girls prefer the more girlish designs, those in colleges prefer something mature and sophisticated. “They want to reveal more skin,” laughed Kris.  
Kris and Anna take about three weeks for made-to-measure costumes. There would be at least one fitting before they are ready for collection. Besides the made-to-measure designs, there are several ready-to-wear pieces for last minute buyers. After a selection is made, the clothes are then altered to fit to size, which normally takes about two to three days to complete. These are done at no extra charge.  

The preferred material is usually shantung silk but there are no real preferences for colour. “We only oblige specific colours when there is a theme to a party,” said Kris, who admitted having catered for a Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Secret Garden theme parties. The shop caters for the fairer sex only although there are the odd requests from men sometimes.  

Anna also designs and hand makes her floral corsages, that decorate the gowns. These are made from chiffon in the shapes of ribbons, flowers and butterflies.  

“Our young customers normally walk in with a budget and they leave the decision and recommendation to us. We try our best to give them the best deal possible,” said Anna. All the clothes tailored at That Special Occasion are fully lined. The workmanship depends on the fabric used. Interested customers can come with their preferred designs, as well as material, and Kris and Anna will charge them on tailoring accordingly, depending on how difficult it is to handle the material.  

While the younger girls come with their friends as they want something that is similar to one another, the older girls prefer individualism.  

The outlet has associations with other establishments that provide accessories such as shoes and handbags, make-up and hair styling services to complement the outfit.  

Kris provides a rough guideline on the price range for some of the items featured in the shop. Cocktail wear starts at RM 300, evening wear at RM 400 and bridal gowns at RM 950.