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A Tryst with the Avant-Garde at MBFWKL

All eyes were on the capital over the elections weekend, and not just because of the obvious. As the sun set on what was arguably one of the region’s most exasperating administrations, so did freedom of expression flourish in pale moonlight at the heart of historic Kuala Lumpur under the auspices of one of the world’s most electrifying innovator. By launching its namesake Fashion Week in the country, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has elevated Kuala Lumpur’s prestige and appeal among blue-blooded fashion elites, attracting names such as Boggi Milano, Thomas Wee, and Julien Macdonald to grace the runway with their collections.

We at The Grid were fortunate enough to snag an invitation to this stylish affair on Saturday, May 12th, which was when they hosted the gala dinner in the four-night event. As per custom at these sorts of soirées, everyone arrived fashionably late, which meant the only thing that dwarfed the impeccable stitching on the designers’ clothes was our impeccable Malaysian timing. Though understandably so, for what event hosted at Chin Woo Stadium if not the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week could compel the darlings of Malaysian high society to brave the Saturday night traffic along Jalan Hang Jebat after a heavy rain in their best outfits? This was the first of its kind by Mercedes-Benz in the country, and no sane individual would miss it for the world.

While a few eyebrows were raised at the choice of venue initially, we’d have to give props to the team who successfully transformed the stadium from being just an indoor stadium, into the moody, broody, and oh-so-très-chic destination. Instead of the white tents at Bryant Park, we had the de rigueur black drapes of Chin Woo that were necessary to accentuate the beautiful reflective runway that they’ve set up in the middle of the stadium. Why they didn’t flaunt the Concept EQ (parked outside in a tent) on this before the dresses eludes us, but hey, it’s a food for thought.

After a light banter between Mercedes-Benz CEO & President, Dr. Claus Weidner, and VP of Sales and Marketing, Mark Raine, host Hannah Tan introduced the first act of the evening, the Fashion Futures Design Competition. Five designers, four designs, and one winner: the stakes were high for the aspiring and talented five, as not only were their prêt-à-porter collections subjected to scrutiny by leading authorities in the local fashion industry and the grand master of precision tailoring himself, Thomas Wee, the winner would also walk away with an all-expenses-paid trip to attend an international Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which we’re interpreting as one of the Big Four (New York, London, Paris, and Milan).

​Fingers crossed then to Eddie Cheow who emerged victorious with his neoteric collection that just screams experimental millennial. Taking cutting edge literally, Eddie’s work is an exemplar of deconstruction fashion, beating out Cing Siu Gin’s flamenco-inspired pieces, Tan Chun Yong’s thunderous outfits, Rachel Kong’s pastel ensemble, and William Goh’s tri-coloured quartet.

Past the exciting entrée, while Boggi Milano’s palate-cleansing collection reintroduced a momentary state of equilibrium into the stadium as we ruminated over the second course of the night, it was Thomas Wee’s penchant for the dramatic that made everyone ignore the third course. Hardly anyone looked away as the models strutted the entire length of the runway—from the moment a crimson-clad pheasant stepped into the spotlight, to the surprise reveal of the final dress at the end.

The other pleasant surprise of the evening was the lucky draw session when, for a brief moment, everyone thought they would be walking away with a massive blue diamond ring by Ceres, the official jeweller for MBFWKL. Alas, the ring was claimed by one lucky bloke, who undoubtedly now have the luxury of deciding who to give it to. 

The night ended with King of Glam, Julien Macdonald, presenting his Spring 2018 ready-to-wear collection that set the stage ablaze with fringe, prints, and enough sequins to cover the moon, though not quite enough to conceal the amount of skin bared on the runway. By living up to his name, Julien did what he did best by making the sexy sexier, and successfully transforming a fashion show into a glitzy after-party.

From the new to the established, it was evident from Night 3 that MBFWKL has sealed its place in the capital’s bustling fashion calendar by becoming an industry launch pad for the former, and an exclusive sales event for the latter. How the Fashion Week will transform in subsequent incarnations remain to be seen, but we’re confident that Mercedes-Benz Malaysia will continue to beguile and uplift fashion in the years to come.

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