I have always known that Joe Sidek (the Festival Director of George Town Festival, Penang) was talented and used to organize fashion shows, but he proves that creativity can surpass itself over and over again.
With boundless energy and sparks of delightful genius, he directed and conceptualised the inaugural Rainforest Fringe Festival in Kuching, Sarawak 2017 including its fashion show. The festival aims to highlight the delights of Kuching city and Sarawak culture through exhibitions, talks, musical performances, food, bazaars and fashion.
The Theatre of Fashion was a real treat for me. It really was fashion with a difference. Rather than just the usual models, we were treated to a procession of Sarawakians sporting different designs of intricate tattoos on their bodies appeared on the catwalk.
Whoops of delight and surprise followed. The showcase of Sarawakian designers was diverse, textured and replete with cultural references – Tom Abang Saufi, Edric Ong, Ramsay Ong, the artisan house of Tanoti all had something different to offer.
Edric Ong especially heightened the sense of theatre in fashion. His amazing intricately handwoven and tie dyed textiles and clothes unravelled stories familiar to us all using his own, unique design language.
Another unexpected delight was how the pop-coloured handwoven baskets of Sarawak found their way into the catwalk with style. With David Cheah as stylist, the clothes were specially designed, screen printed and sewn to complement the baskets.
Dresses were screen printed with designs resembling Mondrian paintings with bold colours to match the baskets. Other dresses were made with textiles that looked like colourful computer pixels. The effect was fresh, playful and ultra-modern – a gorgeous contradiction with the baskets. Guess who grabbed two pieces to bring back to KL?