Perth Fashion Week.

Runway success

MEL'S PLACE by Melinda Looi

Despite her initial nerves, our columnist was a big hit at the inaugural Perth Fashion Week.
I AM flying high at the moment – both literally and metaphorically. Literally, as I write, I am about 11,580m above ground, flying over India on my way to London, for another round of fashion weeks.
Before this, I was in Perth, Australia, where I opened the inaugural Perth Fashion Week (PFW) with two couture collections. Both were well-received, and I was featured on page three of The West Australian, a leading daily in Perth.
Proud moment : Designer Melinda Looi and celebrity model Jesinta Campbell at the Perth Fashion Week.
I have to say, the PFW was really well-organised. The venue – the Perth Convention and Exhibition Center – was spacious; and the catwalk was well laid out, with a huge screen serving as the backdrop, zooming in on the models as they sashayed for those who were not able to get a close enough view. The people backstage were super-efficient. There were Janna, the backstage manager; Ben, the show director from Silver Bullet; Elizabeth, the stylist; their assistants and dressers. From the moment I met them, I felt I was in good hands and whatever nerves I had about presenting the opening act instantly evaporated.
Our fittings with the models proceeded without a hitch, and the show itself went really well. Backstage, Elizabeth and Janna worked their magic so that I had nothing to worry about. The make-up team, led by Bobby, and hair by Kevin Murphy’s team leader Simon Lee were also fantastic. They delivered exactly what I wanted for the two looks of my collections. The icing on the cake was having celebrity model Jesinta Campbell purposely flown in for my opening show.
Before the event began, we were met by some media – both local and international – for interviews and photo ops. Among the VIP guests were Jessica Bratich Johnson, a new bag designer, and her husband, Mitchell Johnson, a famous Australian cricketer.
The opening ceremony included, besides the usual speeches, a music performance by an aboriginal group playing the didgeridoo and guitar. I thought it was great that the organisers had made it a point to include this traditional element in the event. Later that week, they even had a special showcase of aboriginal designers.
All in all, the show itself was amazing. You can see my showcases at http://livestre.am/1p6Jx and on my Facebook page. For me, personally, the show opened new doors. For example, the World Fashion Week Organization picked one of my gowns to exhibit around the world, and have indicated they may ask me to represent Malaysia in the World Fashion Week to be held in New York next year. I also got to network with some international designers and exchange ideas with buyers who can introduce us to new markets. Overall, though, I felt the organisers could have done a little more to market the event, especially with regard to the media and buyers.
A touch of whimsy is evident in the Melinda Looi Couture collection shown at Perth Fashion Week. — Photo by Six 6 Photography
Other than the show, our three days in Perth were wonderful for the sightseeing. We know a Malaysian who is now based in Perth – Timothy – who was very kind and took us around while we were there. He met us the very evening we arrived, and took us to downtown Perth for dinner. What amazed us was, although it was not late – only about 6pm – the city centre was deserted! All the shops were close and there was hardly a soul to be seen walking on the streets.
That didn’t deter us, of course. We walked down the posh King’s Street, where all the designer shops are. I spotted a modern restaurant, King St. Restaurant, with an industrial themed interior – the kind I like – and decided to have dinner there. After that, we walked some more, and managed to cover the entire shopping area – Murray Street, where you will find The Margaret River Chocolate Co.; William Street, which is famous for shopping and Asian dining; and Trinity Arcade with cute little stores that sell all kinds of everything.
Tim had to go back to work again, but suggested that we go to King’s Park which is on a hill, from which we’d be able to enjoy a good view of Perth. It was a great idea, for the night was cool and the walk up the hill was lovely. The walk took about 15 minutes, during which we passed some beautiful (and expensive) apartments and houses. It was quite a climb, but the breath-taking view at the top was well worth it. From the summit, we could see the Swan River and the Darling Range beyond, the buildings and city lights. It was beautiful … and pin-drop silent. Although it was not even 10pm, it felt like midnight. From the park, we took a slow walk back to our hotel, enjoying the fresh air.
We didn’t get to see much of Perth the next day, because that was the day of the PFW opening, and most of our time was spent backstage. For lunch, however, we decided to try out Lido, a Vietnamese restaurant on William Street which Tim had recommended. It was only about 15 minutes away from our hotel on foot.
On the way, we saw at least four Malaysian restaurants and even more Chinese eateries. I ordered my favourite Vietnamese dishes of rice paper rolls and chicken noodle soup. The portions were huge – none of us could finish our dishes. After lunch, we wandered into all the stores on William Street. Although I was drawn to some vintage and second-hand stores, there was no time to do any real shopping as Dirk and I had to rush back to hotel to get ready for the launch of the PFW.
I must say, that was probably the best solo show I ever had.
On our last day, Timothy showed us more of Perth. This time, he took us to Fremantle, which is about 30 minutes away by car along the coast. It was a warm, sunny day and the view of the blue ocean was truly refreshing. Fremantle has an old-world feel about it with some nice restaurants and stores. But what really captivated me was the market, selling craft, fruit, food and interesting knick-knacks. Unfortunately, our time here was short as we had a flight to catch.
Indeed, our entire stay in Perth was far too short, but long enough for me to discern that the people here truly appreciate art. There were paintings at office block entrances, sculptures and art pieces on the streets. Anyone with an artistic sensibility would fall in love with this city. I myself am determined to come back, to explore the city and get to know it better.
Meanwhile, London here I come. Somehow, I suspect it’s not going to be as sunny as Perth, but London has its own special attractions. No doubt, I’ll be sharing my adventures with you in my next missive. Till then, take care!

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