These designers have made a name in local and international high fashion runways with their unique fusion of urban, contemporary and ethnic motifs upholding their rich roots and heritage.
Edric Ong • Datuk Tom Abang Saufi • Ramsay Ong • Tanoti • Neng Kho Razali • Priscilla Ong Shunmugam
Where does one start to describe Edric Ong, whose achievements and innovations in fashion, design, art and crafts is nothing short of legendary? Edric Ong is renowned for pioneering new design with traditional artists of Sarawak in the area of textiles, basketry, fibers, ceramics, wood and stone.
In recent years, his focus has been on eco-friendly natural textiles incorporating traditional techniques with innovative contemporary twists and the use of natural dyes. His designs, often a feast for the eyes incorporate Sarawakian motifs fused with hues of the rainforest.
Sometimes called a “Hero of Heritage” in fashion circles, Tom Abang Saufi is well-known for her fusion of the traditional and contemporary in her richly colourful collections spanning over three decades.
The inspiration for her unique expression of upholding her Sarawakian roots is diversely drawn from textiles and techniques such as traditional ‘Pua Kumbu’ and contemporary ‘Batik’ through to the style of the Lady Brooke, Ranee of Sarawak.
Often referred to as a pioneer in Sarawak art circles, Ramsay Ong, over five decades has explored diverse techniques ranging from batik painting to recycled materials such as bark, paper and wood. Constantly creative and striving to evolve with the times, one of his modes of expression is in exuberant jewellery which can best be described as vibrant and texturized art-pieces.
Boutique ‘Songket’ atelier Tanoti, houses a community of master weavers and designers in Sarawak dedicated to the ancient art of ‘Songket’ hand-weaving. Each Tanoti piece is a celebration of craftsmanship where soul becomes infused into each thread and so unequivocally, luxury enters a new realm.
Whether one calls her creations wraps, headgears or turbans, one cannot deny that Neng Kho Razali has transformed them into fashionable head turning accessories. Women now have another way of expressing their individual style with textiled ‘coiffures’ in imaginative compositions of colour and texture through the use of fabrics; traditional and contemporary.
With a contemporary twist on the use of ‘Pua Kumbu’ fabric, layers of Asian aesthetic and sartorial history inform Ong Shunmugam’s new take on old fashion and its mission to engage the modern woman in dialogue about origin and identity.
In seven years, with a list of awards and accolades behind her, Ong Shunmugam has emerged as one of the most promising fashion brands in Asia. Based now in Singapore but drawing from her multi-cultural Malaysian background for inspiration, her designs provoke a re-evaluation of traditional Asian dress beyond assumption and stereotype.