November 01, 2017

The Nasi Lemak Dress for Miss Universe 2017 by Brian Khoo. My outraged thoughts.

Co- founder of Pixar, Ed Catcall said, the greatest enemy of creative success is the attempt to fortify against failure.’ If you want to create the future, the new, and the better… you are going to make some glorious mistakes, graze your knees, and feel a little downhearted. But this is the process we all go through to create the truly valuable and original.

We should not look at what Brian designed but rather ask: What world was he trying to create? It was Brian’s motivation, his purpose, his vision that should inspire us, so we can ask ourselves the same question: What world do I want to create? If you cannot describe a new destination, you will never get there. A world with no nasi lemak design ever existed? A world where creativity has no limits or boundaries? An acceptive community to nurture our future designers? 

I speak on behalf of my generation, who ignorantly only have their heads glued to their phones, I question, who are OUR cultural leaders online who are developing a narrative of our best possible future?
The world I envision for Malaysia, is a close knit industry panelled by powerful visionaries equipped with high technical competence. The industry today has provided the means to mass produce beauty, or at least have an agreed version of it. They say “Put it on Vivy, she looks good in anything.” The concept of authenticity depends on the notions of morality and honesty which is absent in the 20th century. If fashion was easy as you judging it according to your taste, their would not be a whole 3 to 4 year degree in Fashion Design all over the world. You want to blame how ridiculous that dress is? You cant just blame the bad, but you have to blame him for all the good. I quote Tony Robbins, “If you’re going to give them credit for everything that’s fucked up then you have to give them credit for everything that’s great. I’m not asking you to stop blaming. I’m saying blame elegantly, blame intelligently, blame effectively, blame at the level of your soul not the level of your fucking head” . Blame him for all the heads he turned, blame him for making you feel hungry to research better, blame him for going against the stereotypes. If you want to discriminate his design aspect, back it up with technical credibility, you're a designer, there is no one more UNDERSTANDING than you. You want to reject the design, thats fine, but you have to have the knowledge in order to reject or edit. Who else if its not our best designers to educate the society to think more openly, make them understand a creative process, to create intellectual creative dialogue. It is absurd in to persist in refusing to see, that designers, are cultural shapers. Muhammad Ali was once asked what his shortest poem was, he replied  ‘Me, We’. In these two short words Ali gave  insight into our true human nature. We need to be truly ourselves as individuals, but we can only be one when connected to greater ‘We’. The Me needs the We to create more than what is possible as a an individual; and the We needs Me - every Me - to come with their full capacity and vibrancy in the community. 

Im sick of us bullying each other, not only that, but allowing us amongst designers to shame? Ask yourself a simple question: Do you want to create an ugly society or a compassionate one?  I come from a perspective, that i witness way more ridiculous designs made on a DAILY  basis than that, WAY MORE. Designers, are strange, egotistical people. Sadly, this is true. But one thing my baba taught me, be kind, talk humbly and politely in any situation you find yourself in. Im sure all our fathers had said that once or twice. 

Lets talk about the dress. 

There is the potential for inspiration in virtually everything around you. Nasi Lemak, long story short, from attending UCL for business, the portfolio I submitted to London College of Fashion that got me accepted, was a collection inspired by nasi lemak. What I was inspired by was the, that textures of the crunchy anchovies, zesty oily sambal , fluffy coconut rice, jelly-like egg all packed in one-freaking-spoon. Have you tasted anything like it before? Also, in my point of view, I love striking, clear, ridiculously in your face kinda-things. Does Nasi Lemak carry a low cultural capital based on the discrimination it has been receiving? Cultural capital  argued by Pierre Bourdieu written in Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, published in 1979, is that taste, is the ability to choose and is socially shaped and culturally learnt, something deep rooted in a class-based hierarchy that is imposed on society by the culturally dominant. Having said this, lets be frank, nasi lemak is uncategorizable, the nasi lemak is able to significantly transcend from lowest class house-made-of-wood/kampung dining table, to the most extravagant families in Malaysia. Us Malaysians, we simply could not live without it. We all have our favourite nasi lemak stall. Still, why nasi lemak? Theres something about it that reminds you of your grandma, or your date with your late-dad you used to go to together, those times you were in the hospital bed dreaming of nasi lemak the first thing you get out, you remember those breakfast meals out with your school mates. “You remember Malaysia - her pettiness and greatness, her beauty and squalor, her din and disorder and wonderful warmth” described Adilah Amin in her book, As I Was Passing. 

Where there’s life, there’s hope. Where there’s hope, there’s a way forward. Brian has spread and shared with others the sensitivity and mind of a designer through this medium that we call clothes. In terms of design, its difficult to analyse it without physically looking at the seams, hems, and cut. It is clear that he aimed to design a dress visually symbolic. I feel like if Brian had two more weeks to go into research and development, he could have created something greater, more in-depth to interpret the Nasi Lemak in more thoughtful representation that would have been controversial in a glance.  However, Brian sourced out the right materials brilliantly, to represent each nasi lemak element, and the hand-sewing was impeccable, more than 30 THOUSAND beads on delicate fabric. This was not sent to factory in India, this was made in-house ok, hashtag I am home grown. I can't stress enough how incredibly challenging that must have been in the time span they were given. For him and the team, it must've been a torturous experience.
Photo courtesy of Brian Khoo

Brian, thank you for creating a conversation that is going to be taking place in 5-10 years time. A design student in a class can directly reference in his presentation “in 2017 a nasi lemak dress was created, that inspired me to design my collection fearlessly, nonconforming to the rules”. And in Malaysia, we need that more, more starters. We express opinions as if were on par with the Italian or Parisian fashion industry that have matured over 100 years forgetting that our industry still has a long way to go. One of us has invented a nasi lemak dress, fantastic or outrageous it maybe, its historical. Its a beginning of a new creative chronology. Young designers who wants to challenge this, go with all your might. 

Also, thank you for creating a way to run away from the harsh reality to build a new one. The dress was a miss, but what you did was reveal how much time and effort these “designers” took to let them judge something that was not according to their beauty standard. 3 minutes? Did you know Leonardo da Vinci before arriving to the Mona Lisa, he was interested in human ugliness as human beauty. Picasso did crazy shit. In Prada’s Autumn/Winter 2010 collection, Prada intentionally chose various shades of fecal brown because it is “difficult and unappealing”, yes the colour of poop. Jeremy Scott for Moschino. We do what we do as designers because our creative brains are gifted to think beyond what is normalised. Lets be powerful creatives, cultivate growth, inspire each other, help each other and create a damn good fashion industry for generations to come. Collectively.

Anisah Mohd Farid
Second year in BA Fashion Pattern Cutting
London College of Fashion

p/s I wrote this so impulsively, my thoughts are so scrambled,  im dead scared to press publish but here I go. in my About page i state, the firsts, never comes out straight or logical anyway.


September 03, 2017

David Hockney with the soul of the sixties.

Put 10 passionate creatives in the same exhibition and you will get 10 different versions of David Hockney. You may think, "what a nightmare". Yes its exactly just that. 

David Hockney as an inspiration was actually given to us. At the time, his 80 years of work exhibition was going on at the Tate, and it was being celebrated all around the UK. We wanted to do something to show honour to his work and celebrate him. As students, and practitioners, we asked ourselves, what could we take back with us and what could we do to push our visions forward. In this collaboration project, we dared to ask, what if we could make his art come to life. 

Visuals was Hockney. Two main elements from his work, distortion and his portraits of loved ones, became our main focus (after many meetings). He often was drawn to create portraits of his close family and friends as his subject and so, moving forward from this idea, each of our team members contributed a photo of our loved ones to be used as primary research. To turn it up a notch, we made the portrait distortion experimentations marry Hockney's landscape paintings because nature played a big role in his life's work.

“If you want to replenish your visual thinking, you have to go back to nature," - David Hockney

Colour palette was also Hockney. Vivid, muted.

Silhouettes came from his pool series. For example, A Bigger Splash (we all admitted it was one of our favourites), was made in the late sixties. Thats where the idea rang from. The collection that we wanted to create was to encapsulate the late sixties. Connection was made, dived into vogue archives, pin-pointed and formulated strong garment details. Designed about 80, 10 made the cut, 5 made it to production. 

Im not gonna even go into construction, production and scheduling everything. It. Was. Bonkers. Those are notes from one meeting and a frontsheet sample. Yes I'm showing you a collection but bare in mind, we had a long checklist of what needed to be submitted to university. Portfolio, design development, technical folder, sketchbook etc etc etc. Im talking heaps of stress. And every little detail had to be thoughtfully refined throughout.

Combining creativity, scratch that at the end of the day, every inch of will power from each member of the team, we aimed to take a twist and create a collection that is an extension of David Hockney but with the soul of the sixties. Meeting in perfect harmony. This is what we gave birth to and I very much hope you like it.

p/s its so much harder to write for myself because Ive looked at it too much! 

Collection was featured on @toksickmagazine, here.

Also on @noctismagazine, here


August 21, 2017

Istanbul I

Shot with 
Diana F+
Lady Grey ISO 400 120mm film from lomography.

My approach is really to take photographs which paint a picture. Whatever photograph I take, I try to endow with a meaning about a place or an event in my own place.

Istanbul, Aya Sofya, its religion duality within its soil, reminded me much conversations Ive had with my dear mother, Sha, & Sarina. Ones about how to find God's energy, or love and peace in things and beings, how to be gentle to yourself. 

I wrote this in my notes in my travel diary:

14 Dec 2016

When I moved to a different country, (this slipping away process was so slow i barely realised I was going through it) my faith and my easiness towards people and surroundings shaked, because Im not seeing the usual things I found as ordinary before that reminded me of myself, home, & my beliefs; who I am. I get easily anxious of unfamiliarity. So I built my own walls and my own world. But with patience, time and knowledge,  I taught myself to see God and bits of pieces of myself in everything. Its easier to establish a connection with yourself when you are less afraid, open to openness, and be nameless. So, in whatever phase of life I'm going through, wherever I am, whoever I encounter, simply be kind to it, for when kindness becomes apart of something, 
it beautifies it. 

a thousand year old tree

Hagia Sophia on one end, the Blue Mosque on the other

 up & up



 a mosque in Bursa and a badge

 tip of the snow mountain

views + cablecar cable


Aya Sofya


Amsterdam I

Shot with 
Diana F+
Lomochrome Turquoise 120mm film from lomography. (discontinued till further notice)

Amsterdam with my parents was a coincidence. What made it even more priceless was that I had a unique portrait of myself up in an exhibition in Fotomuseum Den Haag, Netherlands. That photograph session itself was coincidental. We didnt decide to go to Amsterdam because of the exhibition, no, my parents literally had business in Leiden. Just one of those things, where everything falls into place oh so perfectly.

I could not have been happier to celebrate that moment with the two most important people in my life, it was okay they were being super normal embarrassing parents, making sure everyone who entered the exhibition got a good look at my portrait and tell them with their beaming proud faces smiling ear to ear, "THATS MY DAUGHTER!" 

Amsterdam is such a good place to go with your parents, especially during the tulipy season. Dont ask why. Just go. Netherlands is a place where sights are soothing and time slows down. 45+ year olds kind of appreciate that. My dad has always been "meh drugs overthere no no bad bad" towards Amsterdam, but he reaaaally did find solace in this city. Leiden is worth a visit too! Its a town filled with character and its down a notch from Amsterdam. Something like Oxford or Cambridge.


Amsterdam in two words, bicycles and canals.
whatever that is and Rijksmuseum
oh hi.



theres a duck. somewhere in here.
Den Haag city


May 26, 2017

issues and my welcome back hello.

Hello blog! HI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have been wanting to start writing again for quite some time. What stopped me before was my ever-busy university schedules, inner sufferings, and doubts like "other people's blog is so much more fun to read/much more helpful/like who am i to__?/my writing skills is so bland and bad", and did i mention the busy-ness of life! Ive been working on my communication skills, in-class confidence (yes its real, you do need confidence in class to ask questions and because my studio classes are so open, like everyone will see what your experimenting with on the mannequin, sometimes it can get sooo nerve-wracking!), my reading skills (I take longer to finish books nowadays and thats annoying), attempting to restyle myself (I used to use self-style to channel my creativity, it was nothing to do with fashion, clothes were merely acting as my tools, it was faster to dress than to paint, but now since i express my creativity in uni - FULLTIME, that style-box in me rusted>brokedown>died), and in general as what i like to call it getting lost in the maze of my life, really.

I always feel burdened with the fact that the content I aim to put on my blog should be thoughtfully constructed to be understood by anyone's reality whoever wherever they may be. They say "pick your target market, be so good you drive the weak out and own it", thats how it is these days, but i dont want my readers to be just one type, i really want to speak to hearts, have that sincere emotion so everybody can understand, pinkdurian is meant to be universal. Why do you think I chose the word pink?

Its really an exciting time for a woman like me (or Emy! i simply adore this woman), in my early 20's, tasting life, understanding the world at a different level. If you're not in your early twenties yet - then be prepared, if your currently in it - go get it, if this is already your past - warn me of whats yet to come.

Im writing this, because ive been thinking too much, I was on the tube the other day just staring at my reflection on the tube window and I just thought, what is it that I really want to do? Why am I so scared of restarting to write again? Whats holding me back?

I love reading other people's writing, theyre sooo good. It makes me question am I able to write at all. and due to the acceleration of the world, marketing and advertising is on its peak on social media, now we have social media content makers as a professional job! That means, more people on the internet expressing themselves through photos and captions. I became too ignorant to think I could make content any better then any creative out there because I cant even get myself to write. I also feel the world's interest in reading blogs is declining. And the world is quite loud right now, its exhilarating yet exhausting to keep up. Im scared i'll be pressurised so much it turns to hate.

Up until...this happened at 4 am

I was recently so moved by Mark Zuckerberg's commencement address at Harvard

"To keep our society moving forward, we have a generational challenge — to not only create new jobs, but create a renewed sense of purpose......But it’s not enough to have purpose yourself. You have to create a sense of purpose for others.....It’s good to be idealistic. But be prepared to be misunderstood. Anyone working on a big vision will get called crazy, even if you end up right.... JK Rowling got rejected 12 times before publishing Harry Potter. Even Beyonce had to make hundreds of songs to get Halo. The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail. In our society, we often don’t do big things because we’re so afraid of making mistakes that we ignore all the things wrong today if we do nothing. The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future.... But that can’t keep us from starting. Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them.
You just have to get started."

So here I am giving this beginning thing a go. Lets give this lost girl a chance.