Datuk Sri Bernard Chandran can now add another feather in his fancy cap. Malaysia’s ‘King of Fashion’ has amassed new fans at the inaugural Commonwealth Fashion Exchange (CFE), an initiative by Eco Age’s founder and creative director Livia Firth to connect established and emerging fashion talents from across the Commonwealth’s 53 countries. It’s a platform to “showcase the power and potential of artisan fashion skills, deliver new networks, trade links and highlight sustainability through the creation of a one-of-a-kind sustainable outfit”.
CFE patron, the Duchess of Cambridge, was among those who were enthralled by Chandran’s works.
Presented alongside prominent designers such as UK’s Stella McCartney and New Zealand’s Karen Walker at Buckingham Palace in London, Chandran gave our traditional heritage a modern boost through a bustier dress and a dramatic floor-length overcoat.
The bustier, crafted from songket updated with stripe motifs, gives off an illusion of a straight-cut shift dress. Marrying luxury fashion and tradition, Chandran has also enveloped the bottom of the skirt with a kerawang (Malay cut work)-inspired pattern laced with contemporary leather material in baroque designs.
The beauty of songket also extended to Chandran’s edgy overcoat, woven in electric blue thread in geometric motif and embellished with ‘knitting’ detailing in the form of black peonies. Another favourable oriental icon – phoenix, the queen of all birds – encircles the bottom left and right of this elaborate piece that also resonates with the Chinese culture.
The designs for the fashion exchange will also be displayed in other locations around London for public viewing, culminating with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in April.