Touch of Tradition
Extracted from article by Sunita Chabra and Rachael Philip
Nuance, New Sunday Times
The colour, the collar, the cloth or the cut – just one or more of these is enough to inject Chinese cultural elements into your choice of festive outfit. The Oriental nuances in some of the creations this year are so subtle that they will appeal to all races, not just the Chinese. To help you celebrate our unique multi-ethnicity this Lunar New Year, we did a little boutique-hopping and found that nothing beats tradition when it comes to dressing elegantly.
True to its name, That Special Occasion produces made-to-order wedding, cocktail and evening wear designs. Store owners Anna Lee Rajakumar and Kris Wong, both in their early 30s, gave up jobs in the advertising and corporate world two and a half years ago to follow their hearts.
They abide by a quote taken from Victorian artist, poet and philosopher John Ruskin : “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece”.
In every cheongsam and cocktail gown, That Special Occasion promises exclusivity.
“Every piece is one-off. Even if there is a replication, we will use different fabrics to bring out our clients’ individuality,” Wong says from his boutique which is in Desa Sri Hartamas.
Although it carries off-the-rack designs, most clients step into the boutique for made-to-order pieces. According to Wong, That Special Occasion has a sufficiently broad clientele base to keep the boutique busy all year round.
“From May to June and November to December we get students coming in to order gowns for their proms. From September onwards, our clients are those who want something special for their annual company dinner. Brides-to-be also drop in about this time as the Chinese like to hold their wedding at year’s end,” he adds.
Gowns for a Special Occasion
Article as featured in “Sen & Sensibility by Hisham Harun”,
a weekly column devoted to made-in-Malaysia products, services, concepts and companies
Life & Times, New Straits Times
That special occasion is near. And because it’s “that special occasion”, you must, of course, look fabulous. The event could be a wedding … yours. Or, your best friend’s. It could be an engagement, a party, a special dinner this coming Valentine’s Day, an occasion where you need to make a statement.
The right clothes for the right occasion can be a hassle when you can’t find the right shop that stores exactly what you want. But chances are, if you walked into That Special Occasion, you could find what you were looking for. It’s because, That Special Occasion is a boutique which specialises in evening, cocktail and bridal wear. It’s their business to know what works best, when, where, why and on whom. And how best to show off the outfits.
Co-owner Anna Lee says : “The shop is built on a philosophy based on practicality and getting the best mileage out of every ringgit spent by the client. We focus our efforts on made-to-measure wear, and each gown is a one-off piece. In this way, some level of exclusivity is maintained for our customers.”
Kris Wong, the other half of the company which opened about three years ago, adds : “We enjoy sharing our ideas with our female clients who are always brimming with enthusiasm when it comes to designing their outfits.”
For now, That Special Occasion’s focus is on the all important ballgown which has become familiar in recent times. “The search for the ideal gown is therefore top priority for many,” says Lee.
Lee adds that “dressing up for that special occasion” is also now a big deal among the more urban school and college students, especially during proms, where the task of “looking like a million dollars” is not taken lightly.
To meet this demand, the boutique owners stock an assortment of fabrics as well as a range of swatch samples from which clients can make their selections. The two even go as far as providing ideas and suggestions in terms of hairstyle, shoes and accessories.
“It is always wise to plan ahead,” Lee advises, “afterall, the greater the effort put in, the better the outcome”.
Prices for the evening gowns start from RM 400, and a lead time of three weeks is preferred. However, last minute shoppers can also choose from a selection of ready-made outfits that are available off the rack.
Currently, the popular theme here seems to be shiny and glitzy glamour. One particularly daring ensemble takes on a fusion of Chinese and Indian influences. It is boldly presented in a silver Chinese brocade, choli-inspired top, matched with a bronze-coloured paper silk lengah skirt. Another outfit comes in the form of a raw silk, gold and black tie-back top, that is paired off with a glimmering, shimmering, gold organza A-line skirt.
The Occasion of a lifetime
Article as featured in the 5th Issue of Bridal Gallery
As the centre of attraction at any wedding, a bride places great emphasis on her wedding gown, hair, make-up and bouquet. Everyone knows that a radiant bride walking down the aisle is a sight to behold. In reality, it takes months of careful planning and attention to detail to pull it off. Nobody knows that better than That Special Occasion, as they have been involved in numerous nuptials, translating many a bride’s dream gown into reality.
The design process is long but fulfilling. Many hours are spent exploring ideas and options, selecting fabrics and perfecting the finer details, such as make-up, hair and choice of flowers for the bridal bouquet. A couple of fittings and many hours of work later, the result is definitely a labour of love. In today’s economic climate, the trend is to be prudent yet stylish. So they work hard towards meeting various budgets, without compromising on quality or workmanship. By offering a made-to-measure service, complemented by a ready-to-wear range, they are able to remain flexible and respond to market needs.
Their product range includes bridal and evening gowns, bridesmaids’ dresses, accessories, ring pillows and party favours. They also cater to mothers of the bride and groom, and other ladies in the wedding party.
A little bit of glamour for That Special Occasion
Story by Mayang Ismail
Star Metro, The Star
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.
Stitching Masterpieces by Jamie Khoo
As Appeared In The Sunday Star
AFTER diamonds, clothes are a girl’s best friend – we all want to be the belle of the ball; we want the perfect prom dress and a magical bridal gown that will make our wedding guests weep for joy. Owners of That Special Occasion boutique in Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur, Kris Wong and Anna Lee Rajakumar, make every little girl’s dream come true with their collection of custom-made gowns for “any occasion you deem special – a prom night, an anniversary, a wedding …”
When they first started the service, every gown was individually drafted, cut, sewn and beaded by hand. They now have seamstresses and cutters to help with the workload but are still very much involved in designing, drafting (drawing out the pattern on which the fabric is to be cut) and putting in the finishing touches.
For both Kris and Anna, doing the hands-on, behind-the-scenes technical work is just as important as the creative side of designing.
“I’m quite creative and I really like doing everything from beginning to end. I even hand-make corsages to go with the gowns. Being involved at every stage also means that you do not have to depend on anyone,” says Anna.
She adds that designing is not just about putting fancy ideas on paper. A thorough understanding of the technical work behind the finished product is essential for the construction of the actual garments: “When you put a design on paper, you have to think what it’s going to be like when finished – how it will fit, where the zips will go, how it will flow, how the person will get into it.”
Kris says: “If you know the basics of drafting and cutting, it will help you determine how much fabric you need and to cut down costs. You can tell seamstresses how you want it sewn and finished so as to minimise work should you need to make alterations later. No matter how big the business gets, we will still do the drafting as that is what the whole construction of the garment is based on.”
Both Kris and Anna also tend to the business side of things – they deal with everything from publicity to writing out cheques and negotiating with dealers. They do their own website, take photos, write press releases and, when they first started out, even went around putting flyers into mailboxes.
At the end of the day then, That Special Occasion is special not only for the occasions it caters for, but also for the highly specialised, and personalised finish that both Kris and Anna invest in each and every one of their creations.
What kind of training did you have before setting up your boutique?
Kris was working in advertising for seven years, and Anna was in the secretarial line before they both decided to take study part-time for a Diploma in Fashion Design. It took them two years to complete the diploma.
Kris: We were taught fashion design, how to draw sketches and put detailing on paper. We were also taught how to draft, cut and construct a garment entirely on our own from scratch.
Anna: It means we can both sew zips properly!
Kris: It is also important to work with someone who has a business background. I had the advantage of being in the corporate world before this, so I was trained in things like business administration, how to set up a business, inventory control etc.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Anna: From watching MTV and Channel V, and looking at people’s party-wear when I go to pubs. Obviously, people don’t wear gowns for pubbing but I incorporate party-wear motifs into my gowns.
Kris: I keep track of the trends – colours, cuts, silhouettes – from surfing the Internet, and by reading a lot of foreign and local magazines. Normally, we do our best work when our clients leave the designs up to us, though we can’t be too crazy with the designs.
How do you compromise creativity with the technical side of fashion?
Kris: It is usually not so much about creativity versus technicality, but rather creativity versus commercial viability and whether it is suitable for your target market.
We do get to exercise a lot of creativity. Every gown is a one-off piece and we cater for different events and people – annual dinners, proms, brides, wedding guests, ballroom dancers. Once we had the challenge of making a tattered bridal gown where we had to rip the bottom to shreds. We’ve also designed gowns for a wedding based on the English tea party theme, and a prom night themed A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Anna: A lot of people don’t realise that what you see on the catwalk is not actually wearable. Catwalks are really the chance to express creativity; the garments usually have to be adjusted to be suitable for everyday wear.
Is it very glamorous being in the fashion industry and getting to mingle with other designers?
Kris: It’s a lot of hard work, sacrifice and commitment. Actually, we hope that other designers don’t think we’re snooty because we don’t mingle with them, and we don’t attend society events. We don’t feel the need to be with the in-crowd – you won’t see us in The Tatler.
How far could you go just pursuing the technical side of fashion – drafting, cutting, sewing etc
Kris: You could make a very good career out of being a good cutter, drafstman or seamstress; you have to have good workmanship and technical skills. You could be so good, you could be indispensable!
What’s your advice for aspiring fashion students?
Kris: You have to identify which market you want to cater for and where you want to place yourself. We decided to enter a segment of the market which is between the top designers and the department stores. It is tough to compete – for example, with top designers such as Bernard Chandran and Rizalman Ibrahim, so we don’t try to compete with them. It is also very important to know about both the business and fashion aspects. If you are planning to start up on your own, you have to know about the business side. And possibly expect a drastic pay cut!
Anna: Service is also very important. All of us can come up with and do the same stuff, but human relations are still what will make you stand out. You must be very focused and personalised. For us, we sit down with all our clients to discuss what they want and to brief them on designs. We want to give 110% of our attention to our clients.
My Gown and I
C L O V E
What’s white, worn only once in a lifetime and leaves you with memories that last forever? Three women tell BOEY PING PING how their wedding gowns grew from a single thread into a vision of a dream. YOUR wedding is your chance to live out a fantasy, be a princess for a day, walk down the bridal runway and take everyone’s breath away. Renting a gown is the easiest, fastest, and most convenient way to get a gown. Buying a gown from the bridal shop means you get to keep it for yourself while designing your gown gives you the satisfaction of seeing your ideas materialise.
Whether you decide to rent, buy or design your own gown, there are two sides to a story. Three women tell their story of why they chose to have their bridal gown made to measure.
All dressed in white
After her sister’s successful attempt to look gorgeous on her wedding day, Elizabeth Chen followed in her sister’s footsteps by hiring Eric Choong to design her wedding gown. She said, “I wanted something simple, nothing lacy or complicated. And I wanted a very soft look.” The result was an empire-line, bustier dress made up of layers of silk chiffon and silk satin covered in organza embroidery lace, attached with an organza train.
Why I decided to tailor my wedding gown:
Chen, a 30-year-old restaurateur, relates her sister’s wedding gown nightmare: After paying the bridal shop a deposit for her wedding gown, she had gone looking for an evening gown and chanced on Eric Choong’s boutique. She liked Choong’s style and let him tailor her evening dress. Two weeks before the wedding, she went to collect her wedding gown at the bridal shop but after trying it on, felt something was wrong. The design was similar but the colour was different. After much argument, the shop owners admitted they had sold off her gown. Luckily, Choong came to her rescue and in two weeks produced a better gown than the one she had booked.
Working with the designer:
Initially, Chen had planned to have a garden wedding and wanted something light, comfortable and easy to wear. Choong suggested creating something akin to a second skin that would allow for easy movement. Although the wedding was finally held in a hotel, the dress was equally appropriate.
“My designer was very open minded,” she says. With a budget in mind, Chen and Choong collaborated and discussed ideas, design, material and colour. Chen says: “Having a designer to exchange ideas with is good because you get professional advice and it felt like he was fitting in the missing pieces of the ‘jigsaw puzzle’.” Choong let Chen make the first decision before giving his opinions. He respected her ideas while trying to improve on them.
Chen’s designer worked around her busy schedule, dedicating four hours every visit to provide that personal touch. He also advised her not to overspend on shoes and helped her pick a pair that would be suitable for both her wedding gown and evening dress. After four months, the dress was ready.
Chen says, “You cannot compare it to (shopping) at a bridal shop. It’s very personal. My designer treated me like a friend – as if I was his friend who was getting married.”
What makes my gown special:
The A-line silhouette of the gown’s skirt gave the illusion of a taller and slimmer Chen. “The result was very nice because a lot of time and effort, heart and soul had been put into it. He was happy designing the dress and I was happy wearing it.”
What makes it worth the effort:
“Every part of the dress fit me right. I didn’t mind paying a premium price for a gown that I had great confidence wearing.”
What I intend to do with my gown:
Chen says she’ll cut and redesign the gown later. But for now, she still gets a thrill just looking at it.
Tried and tested L’oreal White Perfect Instant Radiance Facial Whitening Mask:
“It’s convenient to use and feels like a mini (brightening) facial.”
After much thought and browsing through bridal magazines, Vivian Chua remembered a gown design a friend had cut out from the newspapers and kept for her some time ago. “She thought it would look great on me when I got married in the future. So I dug up the picture for another look and thought it (might) suit me,” says Chua. The picture was of an empire-line dress with embroidery above the waistline and a simple patterned skirt. She explains her preference for elegant simplicity: “I did not want any extra fuss over the dress like a very long train or a big skirt to distract me from enjoying myself on the special day.”
Why I decided to tailor my wedding gown:
“It was a design that I liked and thought was rather unique. I hadn’t seen anything else like it when I shopped around.” While the 31-year-old music teacher was doing her rounds at the bridal shops, another bride-to-be gave her a contact for a fashion designer. She checked out the designer and was convinced.
Working with the designer:
“The designer was quite accommodating, but at the same time honest and diplomatic about ideas and designs that would suit me. That to me was a rare but valuable quality in tailors. She had some unique ideas which I included in my dress, for example, replacing embroidery with French lace encrusted with crystals and tiny pearl-like beads. The tailor also suggested an A-line mermaid cut for the bottom half of the dress instead of a straight-cut which would help enhance my slim build. All these made the dress uniquely mine.”
The whole process took roughly four months and the end result was, as Chua puts it, “better than I had envisioned it to be”. She adds: “When I tried the final cut and saw it as it should be for the first time, I felt happy that I had made the right choice.”
What makes my gown special:
“Simply because it’s mine. It fits me perfectly and there’s no other dress exactly like this one.”
Why you think it was worth the money:
Chua admits that the cost of making a wedding dress is definitely more than renting or buying one off the rack. “And you can’t really wear it again unless you re-design the dress. But it was worth the RM1,500 I spent as it was what I wanted and suited me well. I know of friends who have spent much more but the dress wasn’t quite what they wanted. Anyway, my husband still complements me on how stunning I looked on our wedding day whenever we look at our wedding photos and if it made such an impact on him, I certainly think it’s worth it.”
What I intend to do with my gown:
“I haven’t made any plans for it, but I think I’ll still keep it as it is for now. It’s certainly a keepsake of that special day and to me, it looks too beautiful to change.”
Tried and tested L’Oreal White Perfect Deep Whitening Double Essence:
“The product is reasonably priced and very affordable.”
My dream gown
Market risk manager Huang Paik Ling remembers the excitement of planning her wedding. She says, “Being an excited bride-to-be, I bought many bridal magazines and surfed the internet for design ideas.” The end result, a replica of a Carolina Herrera gown was inspired by a present from her maid-of-honour, which was a copy of InStyle Wedding Magazine. The gown was a combination of soft chiffon and stiffer bridal satin to create contrast between the top and bottom halves. Capped sleeves, an unusual feature in wedding gowns, were incorporated to suit Huang’s preference.
Why I decided to tailor my wedding gown:
“Initially, I looked at the gowns offered for rental and sale but the designs did not strike me as unique. There were also instances where the top half was pretty but the skirt was not appealing and vice versa. So it was difficult to find something that met all my specifications. Some of the gowns also looked ‘aged’ as they had been left on the rack for some time,” says Huang, 28.
She felt that tailoring her own gown would allow her to make all the decisions, right down to the tiniest detail. The other plus factor was knowing that the gown was custom-made for her.
The only worry she had was whether the dress would turn out as expected as she had been disappointed by past experiences.
Working with the designer:
Huang was introduced to fashion designer Anna Lee Rajkumar of That Special Occasion by her maid-of-honour. Impressed by the delicateness of her work and attention paid to detail, Huang was confident that Anna would put her heart and soul into helping her realise her dream wedding dress. Huang says, “We were both out-spoken and I felt that we got along very well and Anna knew exactly what I wanted.”
During the first fitting, Huang couldn’t really tell how the gown would turn out as the fitting was only for the top half. “Due to the complexity of making the top half, I had to go for two more fittings to ensure the chiffon folds turned out well.” Other than attending fittings, Huang left the work to her designer who kept her well informed of the progress. She says: “Anna made a few judgment calls for me which turned out really well. She also added extra length to the train of my gown which was a pleasant surprise.”
Huang remembered feeling quite grand watching the gown being developed little by little. “I was overwhelmed when I tried on the gown because it was exactly what I had imagined it to be, if not better. I was so happy that I could not wait for the wedding day to wear it.”
Huang also had her evening gown, inspired by a dress Reese Witherspoon wore in the movie Sweet Home Alabama, custom-made. “I still laugh at the fact that I made Anna watch the movie on DVD to capture the design I fancied. I was told she had to watch the same scene repeatedly.”
She remembers her designer’s dedication, saying: “My designer tirelessly re-did the top half of the dress until the inner lining tore and she had to replace the entire lining piece. She became my confidante, advising me on accessories, ideas for wedding favours, reminding me to buy shoes, print cards and finalise the guest list. In the end, my designer was also my wedding planner.”
What makes my gown special:
“The fact that nobody had worn the dress before, that the designs were exactly what I wanted and tailor-made for me. I spent more than RM2,000 for both the dresses but it was definitely worth the time and money. (Baulking at) the cost involved faded when I heard the ‘wows’ on my wedding day and, especially, saw the appreciative looks from my husband, which were worth a million bucks. I definitely have no regrets!”
What I intend to do with my gown:
“As with any sentimental married woman, I hope that I can hand the dress down to my daughter, although she may also opt for a tailor-made dress. I understand that my designer buys back the gowns but I cannot bring myself to part with them. Just looking at the dress brings back fond memories – from the day the dress was merely a sketch to the wedding day itself.”
Tried and tested L’Oreal White Perfect Deep Whitening Double Essence:
“I can really feel the difference. My skin tone and texture is more even, less oily and less prone to breakouts and the big plus is that the whole product range is so affordable and smells great.”
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Dressing up the bride
It is every bride’s desire to look like a princess as she walks down the aisle, but that picture perfect look may not come cheap.
RECENTLY, a friend nearly called off his wedding because in the weeks leading up to the big day, his sweet, demure and petite fiancée had transformed into a ferocious bridezilla who was willing to employ any means necessary – tears or tantrums – to get her way.
Among her demands was a custom-made gown that cost over RM10,000. Was she being unreasonable? After all, she would only wear it once. Or was he being completely insensitive? After all, she has been planning for this day for most of her life.
Well, to be fair to her, brides are under tremendous pressure to look the part on their wedding day. And, no offence to the groom, weddings are really about the girl. At one wedding, I even heard someone say that a beautiful bride makes a wedding all the more memorable.
No one remembers what Prince Charles or Keith Urban looked like when they got married, but images of the late Princess Diana wearing Emmanuel or Nicole Kidman in Balenciaga – though unfair – are a constant source of comparison for many brides.
“Some customers do come in with photographs of Kidman and say they want a similar gown,” says designer Eric Choong.
“Then I have to sit down with them and tactfully tell them that they’re not Nicole Kidman and then redesign something that is suitable for them. Sometimes they will ask for a ball gown, but if they are short, they will not be able to carry it off .”
The personal touch is essential when dealing with soon-to-be brides. But more important than that is the fact that there must be chemistry between both parties. Choong tries to establish that chemistry by asking his customers about their dream wedding gown.
In previous interviews, Orson Liyu said that he often asks his customers things like their zodiac sign in an attempt to gauge their personality and figure out what’s suitable for them.
If the designer and customer do not click, it may be best for the latter to explore other options.
“If you get along, the process is smoother and easier to manage, which is good for all involved,” says Kris Wong, co-owner of That Special Occasion.
Those who opt for Choong are obviously aware of his style, which is minimalist, down-to-earth and classic with the emphasis on cut. His expertise is in making gowns that are easy to wear and feel almost like they are “second skin”.
That Special Occasion is a specialty boutique that creates made-to-measure bridal and evening gowns at affordable prices. As such, many of their customers tend to be more practical, and will opt for designs that are elegant and easy to move in.
Those who wish to wear the Eric Choong label, however, should be willing to spend at least RM5,000 though his gowns start at RM3,800. An average-priced gown costs about RM1,500 – and it doesn’t have a prestigious name attached to it.
These days brides also want more mileage from their gown. Thus, as an added service, Choong gives his customers gowns that can be redesigned into more wearable outfits for future use.
Wedding gowns don’t follow trends but tend to be seasonal and can range from Victorian style to empire cuts. Right now, lace seems to be all the rage. Most brides also seem to be moving away from white, opting instead for off-white or pastel colours.
It is becoming increasingly popular among brides to incorporate colour in their gowns. These can range from pink and sky blue to stronger tones of maroon, depending on the preference of the bride. Colours are usually intertwined into the gowns through embroidery, beading or the use of a sash.
“The most important thing is that the designs do not overshadow the bride,” explains Wong. “In most cases there is only one design feature that is dominant. For example, a beaded lace bodice, embroidered organza skirt, or a coloured sash.
“However, there are brides who decide to have a Cinderella-like fairytale gown because it’s the only time in their lives that they will get to wear such a design. We will oblige as the most important thing is for the bride to feel her best on her wedding day.”
Trends for brides are also dictated by culture and ethnicity. A lot of Malay brides have started to have the akad nikah ceremony in mosques, which means that although the outfits can be fitting, they need to comply with Muslim attire.
“The influence has gone back to the baju kurung or kebaya if the nikah ceremony is held at the mosque,” says designer Radzuan Radziwill. “But if they have the ceremony at home, the outfit can be quite avant-garde.”
It is also a misconception that Malay brides tend to be more conservative. While they may not bare their shoulders or backs, they are open to the idea of sheer tops or sleeves.
“A lot of brides these days wear corsets with transparent tops. Three-quarter sleeves are also becoming popular, and lots of layering to the skirt,” says Radzuan.
Heavy beading and intricate detailing continue, however, to be in demand among Malay brides. “Even if the bride has come back from abroad, she will usually be accompanied by her mother and sisters who ask for it.”
All that elaborate workmanship comes with a hefty price tag. A gown from Radzuan Radziwill can range from RM3,000 to RM10,000.
The business of wedding gowns has also become increasingly competitive in recent years.
“When I started 16 years ago, it was very easy,” says Choong. His services have expanded to include flower arrangements and photography. But those in the industry say the increasing competition is not necessarily a bad thing.
“It means that there will be more choice for people who know what they want,” he adds.
Online Contest Brides go for wedding gown fitting
THE top seven short-listed couples in the www.lovemedo.com.my contest went for a gown-fitting session recently. The girls made their way to local designer Kris Wong’s outlet That Special Occasion in Desa Sri Hartamas in search of the perfect gown with their husband-to-be in tow.
Wong was on hand to give tips and advise the couples on choosing the right gown for the occasion before the girls picked their favourite dress.
Among those who were seen looking for gown with much excitement were Lim Meng Fong and his wife Khor Hui Ming, 29 who could not decide on which gown they should choose.
“There are just so many designs to choose from and we can’t decide because every design is so lovely,” Lim said.
While for Poo Ming Lee, she had her husband Cheah Kei Yuen to thank as he brought a digital camera along to snap photos of her in the gowns before they made their decision.
Along with the fitting session the the finalists also expressed their happiness at still remaining in the region’s first ever online wedding contest.
“We both learnt so much about each other since the contest started.
“We had the opportunity to discover more about each other’s traits and it helped in bringing us through the various challenges in the contest. It surely brought us closer,” business analyst Kelvin Teo, 26, said while his wife Kimberly Yap nodded in agreement.
Another finalist Sean Lim Hsien Han, 31 said that without the help of his friends, colleagues and relatives, who voted for him and his wife, they would not have qualified for the third phase.
The contest conceptualised by Berjaya Hotels & Resorts Marketing Communications director Thang Han-Ni, together with her team, offered the seven couples the opportunity to win a designer beach wedding at the Berjaya Langkawi Beach & Spa Resort worth about RM100,000.
Thang said in the third phase, contestants would also be participating in other events such as photo shoots, and beauty workshops, which they could share with the public through blogging.
On Feb 5 and 6 the contestants would be participating in an actual wedding photography session by renowned wedding photo-journalist Edmund Tham,
Donning their pre-selected wedding attire four couples would be whisked away to Berjaya Hills for a highland-castle wedding themed photography, while the other three couples would be photographed at the chic Berjaya Times Square Hotel & Convention Centre.
During the gown fitting session, the finalists were also given tips on their hairstyles by Centro Hair Salon. The public can view the finalists’ blogs and vote at the contest’s site at www.lovemedo.com.my
Voting for the third phase ends on Feb 23 where the top three couples would proceed to the final phase of the contest.
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Dream Wedding Comes True
The Malay Mail
It’s an affair to remember for couple Samantha Lai Yoke Lean and Gavin Clarke as the best in wedding planning industry pitched in.
A WEDDING, for most people at least, is a once-in-lifetime affair.
Girls would start planning their wedding the moment they knew what a wedding was, and would have a dream wedding roughly sketched out in their minds even way before the appearance of any dream guy. So guys, please understand if the girl you just proposed to suddenly loses all focus on you and starts turning into a bridezilla!
Once the proposal is made, time is hardly wasted as the gears in their minds click to retrieve dress ideas, phone numbers and guest list. Every bride needs a little help in planning their dream wedding. For couple Samantha Lai Yoke Lean and Gavin Clarke, it came in the form of Nupts & Such Sdn Bhd as well as a whole bevy of sponsors.
The couple, who had taken part and won the Splendour Of Nature online contest which ran from November till the end of last year saw their special day graced by 30 guests, including their family and close friends at the Clearwater Sanctuary Golf Resort in Batu Gajah Perak.
“Our main sponsor, Clearwater Sanctuary Gold Resort had been particularly generous in their sponsorship for this contest.” said Eileen Lui, director of Nupts & Such Sdn Bhd and also the organising chairwoman for the Splendour Of Nature contest. “They sponsored full board and lodging for the 3N/2Dstay for the couple and 30 of their guests as well as for the wedding industry vendors. Not only that, through Clearwater Sanctuary Golf Resort, Master Chef Ricky Parlanti was brought in to be the maestro behind the customised wedding menu. The entire celebration was splendid.”
Photography for the couple’s wedding day was sponsored by renowned celebrity photographer Kid Chan as well as Sunday Photography’s Lam Wai Cehong to immortalise their wedded bliss, while the outfits for the bride and groom were provided by That Special Occasion and Fit & Match respectively.
“We are so pleased to have won this contest.” exclaimed the delighted bride. “Our wedding celebration was intimate, but we had all the best from the wedding industry! From the photography sessions to the decor and the menu, we were so excited when we heard Master Chef Ricky was going to be the one creating our wedding menu.”
The night itself was magical and filled with an air of romance as the couple exchanged vows and danced to the sultry voice of Janet Lee who provided the entertainment for the night. Even the decor of the tables, courtesy of La Flaire and O’Hara Florist, reflected the nature-inspired theme.
With the success of the contest as well as wedding itself, the organising committee is looking to making this an annual affairs.
“Perhaps, the next theme would be a Spring-inspired wedding.” said Lui, whose wedding planning company specialises in destination weddings and promotes the Green movement. “Whatever it may be,we would still like to keep to the undertones of nature.”