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In the world of contemporary design, the past still reigns supreme

The winning garments of young Thai designer Anuruq Jaidee, who earned top prize in this year's AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search competition

The winning garments of young Thai designer Anuruq Jaidee, who earned top prize in this year’s AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search competition

Desaturated color nature prints and bursts of bright appliques adorn a trio of white outfits. The clean white fabric serves as the perfect canvas for the modern print. The bottom edges of the garment are cut according to the shape of the print, showcasing an interesting finish to relatively classic silhouettes.

Pinay student designer and finalist Mary Camille Veloso's modern ensemble that was inspired by traditional Filipino costumes

Pinay student designer and finalist Mary Camille Veloso’s modern ensemble that was inspired by traditional Filipino costumes

This is the modern take of young Thai designer Anuruq Jaidee on the traditional costumes that were once worn by nobility in the palaces of Ayutthaya, the old capital of Siam, the old kingdom of Thailand. Most of the traditional costumes are inspired by nature that surrounds the palaces—from wild orchids to colorful butterflies to bird’s nests.

“I’ve taken inspiration from the fashion of the palaces of the court of Ayutthaya and turned it into something wearable in modern times, something you can buy from a store,” explains the 23-year-old designer. “I also took inspiration from the colors of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), which represents us, the region. The print is more modern, which is more appropriate today.”

Anuruq’s design was the top choice of the judges in the recently concluded AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search held during the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week Ready to Wear (KLFWRTW) in Malaysia. The grand winner of the competition bested 14 other artists coming from different countries in Southeast Asia. Now on its second year, the design competition aims to nurture young talents in the region.

“We are amazed with the quality of work from these young aspiring designers, which highlights just how much undiscovered talent we have in the ASEAN,” says AirAsia Berhad CEO Aireen Omar. “We are here to help the development of new talents and we are pleased to once again collaborate with KLFWRTW team.”

Anuruq celebrates his win.

Anuruq celebrates his win.

In this year’s competition, AirAsia went around Southeast Asia—Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia—looking for fresh talent. Only Malaysian designers competed last year. They picked the three best designers from each country to compete in the finals in Malaysia.

Three student designers represented the Philippines, Mary Camille Veloso and Bea Samson of Slim’s Fashion School; and Ron Xavier Santos of Fashion Institute of Design and Arts. Besting other student designers from different fashion schools in the country, the three showcased the heart and the art of the Philippines.

Although unsuccessful, the young designers definitely brought their A game to the competition. Camille, Bea, and Ron took inspiration from the Philippines’ past and rich culture. Taking inspiration from history and traditions seemed to be the theme during the competition. Besides the Philippines, designers from Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia drew inspiration from their respective cultures.

Camille played on the evolution of Filipino costumes starting from pre-colonial times. Getting inspiration from indigenous fabrics and textile design, she created modern silhouettes like asymmetrical pants and tops. Bea, on the other hand, was inspired by the terno and traje de mestiza. She adapted modern prints like stripes and plaid on mermaid dress and skirt silhouettes. Her vivid oversized coat with graphic print stood out from her collection.

Ron was also inspired by traditional Filipino costume, specifically the Filipiniana—the barong and terno. Mixing traditional and modern fabrics, he designed for the modern Filipina like the modern crop top barong paired with sheer striped pants. He says that his collection is aimed at the “modern Maria Clara.”

The other designers who paid homage to their cultures were Sara Devina Susanto of Indonesia who was inspired by the Indonesian batik from Pekalongan, a city in Central Java; Imme Kristiani Firman, also from Indonesia, drew inspiration from the Balinese purification and ceremony ritual called Melasti; Hanifia Rahmadiani was inspired by rice mixed with Indonesian folklore, the Legend of Dewi Sri; while Supustorn Teamsak of Thailand was inspired by the poems of Thai life.

The grand winner took home several prizes including RM25,000 (approx. P275,000) sponsored by Malaysia’s Fashion Valet to produce a capsule collection which will be sold at fashionvalet.com; 150,000 AirAsia Big points; a confirmed show for next year’s KLFWRTW; and a year-long mentorship from KLFWRTW team, including its founder Andrew Tan.

Andrew says that more than recognition, what they are giving these young designers is a a boost in their careers. For competitions like these, it is important to support the winners.

“This competition has a purpose. Most competitions just give the winners the trophies and prizes and that’s it. We are here to help launch the careers of the designers,” Andrew says.

Follow AirAsia’s YouTube channel for webisodes featuring the journey of the young designers, youtube.com/user/AirAsia, Facebook/AirAsia, Twitter @AirAsia