THESE days, when you attend a student fashion show, be prepared to be blown away because young designers really know how to impress.

 Last week, I attended my second Raffles International College fashion show and I was amazed by what I saw.

 The 20 fashion designers were no less impressive than their predecessors. Each designer displayed five items, which were showcased by models almost as stunning as the designs themselves.

Of the group, three designers stood out and received accolades from the industry experts that were there that night. They shared with me what their collections were about, and the inspirations for their work.

Jonathan Liang, 22

Madamme, I Ate An Orchid

One of Jonathan Liang's designs.

One of Jonathan Liang’s designs.

The Penang native took up fashion after trying his hand at fine art. Jonathan’s designs have been featured in major fashion events like last year’s Malaysia International Fashion Alliance (MIFA), where he was named most promising designer with classmate Tengku Syahmi.

At last week’s graduation show, Jonathan presented his fall/winter 2010 collection called Madamme, I Ate An Orchid, a collection that showcases the use of different fabrics like polyester, wool and chiffon.

”The collection was inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It revolves around the emotions invoked in the play such as humour, love and sexuality,” explained Jonathan.

”The use of different fabric creates textures that contradict one another but, at the same time, matches well when paired. This is reflected on Shakespeare’s characters in the story where lovers from different backgrounds were brought together.”

The pieces were stunning in black, grey and nude, with bits of gold to spice things up.

”The gold adds to the ‘key look’ of my collection,” said Jonathan. His favourite designers include Yves Saint Laurent, Ricardo Tisci, Nicolas Ghesquiere and Alber Elbaz.

Debbie Chung Kwee Ching, 20

Awakened Emotions

Debbie Chung (left) and one of her models.

Debbie Chung (left) and one of her models.

Debbie was inspired to create a collection that displays the human emotion of discomfort when one is misunderstood.

Confused? Debbie, who hails from Malacca, explained that the whole concept revolved around stereotyping and pre-judging.

”When we see tattoos or piercings on a person, we almost always consciously or subconsciously form an impression, good or bad. It is very normal for a person to assume that only trashy or attention seekers would have them. It is these feelings of being pre-judged that I am intrigued by,” Debbie noted.

The collection was not specific to tattooed and pierced individuals, but these elements were used to emphasise the point of the designs.

”The five final looks I presented were basically an extension of that. Each piece has a tattooed, faux-tough exterior made of leather, representing the human shell.

”The inner pieces were more chaotic. Loose knits were used to show the true humane vulnerability within, of emotions awakening. I like designs that are unusual but still wearable and versatile,” said Debbie.

Her designs are even manifested in her personal style, made up of body adornments like grunge-y metal accessories.

Silas Liew, 26


Silas Liew and his creations.

Silas Liew and his creations.

”My collection is entitled Coalition because it felt like a conceptual mash-up of unrelated visual sources during the design stages of the collection. It’s also true to the way I like to research and develop ideas,” said Silas, who, upon discovering a book of paper airplanes by Klara Hobza, was drawn to the art of pattern drafting.

”Pattern drafting is something that I’m always actively seeking to develop because it’s essential to understanding the physical possibilities of a garment. This is most apparent in the funnel-collared vest piece with the folded lapel and back panel construction.”

Silas added that his interest in costume history from the Far East resulted in a collection of various images of traditional and ceremonial gowns from China and Japan.

”I also collected images of military aviation; stealth planes and fighter pilots which inspired the jumpsuit piece with the sculpted sleeves in the collection,” said Silas.

* To check out some of the other designs from the designers who showcased their collections that night, head to

Here are some of the other designs.

The Loneliness of a Fairy by Christina Kwan

The Loneliness of a Fairy by Christina Kwan

Divided to Complete by Madeline Tanamal.

Divided to Complete by Madeline Tanamal.

Optimism by Ezzati Amira.

Optimism by Ezzati Amira.

Forbidden Love by Elham Mehrabian.

Forbidden Love by Elham Mehrabian.

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