Melinda Looi Interview

Hello everyone. I hope you have all had a wonderful new year’s. I have a delicious new article for you all, with the uber cool designer Melinda Looi. Melinda is a Malaysian designer who has put together a Spring Summer 2014 collection using colours of the peacock bird, electric blue and jade green with raw silks and chiffons. Fortunately Melinda has created a number of garments which can be placed into neon’s, bright’s, prints, beading, tailoring, lace, overlay, metallic, feminine and full skirts to name a few trends coming up. I got the chance to interview her by email, so let’s take a look at what she said shall we?!

Hi, how did your passion and enthusiasm start for fashion?

Fashion is my life. Being born into a family, which has been in the fashion industry long before I was born, I grew up working in my parent’s company sewing, ironing, and basically learning everything that was involved with it. Back then, what I really wanted to do was graphic design, but my parents felt it was not a “safe” career option, so I went into fashion design instead. This was when I discovered the “art” of couture, and truly fell in love with fashion. I could still pursue my dreams of being an artist, with the only difference being that fabric is my canvas, and I am using needles, thread, and scissors instead of a paintbrush!

Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?

I suppose it was fated! I was born into fashion, and ended up studying it. When I won my first award which came with a scholarship to pursue my studies in Fashion Design at the La Salle School of Fashion in Montreal, Canada, it pretty much set the path for what was to come in the life of Melinda Looi, fashion designer.

What is your favourite part about being a fashion designer?

Getting to exercise my creativity through my work, loving what I do everyday. Meeting lovely people from all walks of life and forming lasting friendships with them. Exposure to experiences and opportunities that are uncommon in 9-5 desk jobs.

Which designers have inspired you, and how have you found entering the fashion industry?

I have always been an admirer of Jean-Paul Gaultier; being inspired by the way he plays with colour and the placement of cultural elements in his creations. He makes such great work. I hope one day I will get a chance meet him in person and learn from him.

How would you tell somebody starting in the business to go about it?

Nothing comes easy. Don´t expect to excel or become successful overnight Always remember: DO your best and not TRY your best, that way you will not be missing anything and you will be are successful to yourself.

For creating your own design/style: Know yourself first. Have your own style and identity. Dont follow others blindly. Dont care about what other say about you and your style, it’s not important as long as you believe in yourself.

What are your 3 essential garments you need to have in your wardrobe, and what do you think are a few essential garments everyone should have in theirs?

For myself, I must have collared shirts, a perfectly cut dress, and a pair of tailored trousers which are pieces that I can always dress up and down with my mix and match.

Where does the inspiration for your collection come from?

I have always loved birds. These beautiful creatures have regularly served as a source of inspiration for my work. For my SS14 collection, I was inspired by a painting by an artist friend of mine, Nini 

Marini. The colours and strokes on the canvas really spoke to me, so I stood there admiring it for some time before realizing that it reminded me of peacock feathers!

Peacocks are majestically beautiful, and have long been associated with glory, immortality, royalty, and incorruptibility. I felt that this would be a great underlying theme for my collection. The vivid colours, textures, and patterns of their feathers provided a perfect palette that would translate effortlessly onto any garment. We also ended up recreating Nini’s painting into a custom silk print, which was used to create everything from a sporty cropped halter top and draped harem pants to a sweeping floor-length evening dress.

What is, for you, your ideal client?

I perceive her to be a modern day warrior. She has a soft, feminine appearance, but is strong in character, and unafraid of challenges or new experiences. She is independent, confident, and knows what they want out of life. I don’t have any one muse in particular. When I design, I think of my clients and the people in my life whom I admire (who bear the characteristics of the Melinda Looi woman). I would love to dress any woman who is strong, independent, and confident

I absolutely love your collection, especially the breath taking dresses, in beautiful colours and fabrics, what would you suggest someone wear these with?

Thank you! The best thing about these dresses is that they can be mixed and matched to create unique styles representing the wearer’s personality.

I personally love chunky bangles, rings, or earrings, and toning down on the “pretti-ness” by pairing dresses with high heeled boots or a leather jacket. On the other hand, some women may prefer to go the classic route by pairing the dresses with minimal accessories (pearl or diamond studs, dainty rings) and a beautiful clutch. It’s all about what makes them most comfortable and confident.

What are your favourite pieces from this collection?

The pleated back cape sleeves top with shorts, tube A line dress with embroidery work on the front , puffy sleeves yellow white stripes dress and top, vest top, tulle dress and many more…it’s hard when you ask a designer to choose from her own collection! Every piece is a favourite!

How did you select the materials you used?

By following my heart and senses. During the design process, I either pick the materials first before designing, or I develop a storyboard before sourcing for suitable fabrics. The weight and colours/prints on the fabrics also depend on the season, of course.

Where will your clothes be available?

The collection has been shown in the London, Paris, Dublin, Hong Kong, and Taiwan so far. We’re still finalizing the orders at this point in time.

What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses in the art of fashion?

My strengths are my mixing and usage of colours, fabrics, and the layering. I like to create timeless pieces. I think my weakness is that I don’t typically follow trends, especially since I started of in Couture (I tend to work from my heart and imagination), so some might consider me to be designing from within a bubble of my own.

What do you consider as one of your greatest achievements as a designer?

Although I have won several awards, I have yet to feel “very” proud of myself. I always want to work hard and learn every day. I want to learn to be better.

How do you stay on top of current design trends?

I don’t follow “short-lived” trends. I am more influenced by people, nature, travelling or by movies.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to take over the world! Haha, just kidding…sort of. From a fashion designer’s point of view, I would love to dress women from all over the world, which is why we are launching our export collection starting with this Spring/Summer 2014. Other than that, one of my deepest wishes is to open a fashion museum or gallery to exhibit traditional Malaysian costumes from days gone by, and also masterpieces from local Malaysian designers, which I feel are not celebrated enough.  

Thank you for this opportunity, and I look forward to seeing future collections.

image007ooo pp inda llll meli

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