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Pictures by SIA HONG KIAU

The Piala Seri Endon aims to take batik to the world.

MALAYSIAN batik crafted for the world – that’s the noble aim of the Piala Seri Endon batik design competition. Since its inception in 2003, it has provided greater exposure to many budding designers and those with higher aspirations outside the Klang Valley.

At the grand finale of the competition this year, held at the Merdeka Hall of the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, new talents with potential were unearthed.

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The Chendering Team: from left, Zalipah Ismail, Rosman Abdul Ghani and Fazlee Abd Rahim won RM30,000 with their collection entitled Dancing Guppy.

The first-prize winner was a trio of young artisans from Terengganu who call themselves the Chendering Team. Fazlee Abd Rahim, Rosman Abdul Ghani and Zalipah Ismail work full time in a silk and batik enterprise. They were overwhelmed by their win last Sunday.

Rosman and Zalipah had taken part in the competition four years ago but it was 24-year-old Fazlee who provided the winning touch.

“We decided to base our three outfits on the guppy because they are so colourful. The aim of the competition is to take batik into international markets and since the guppy is found everywhere, we thought everyone could relate to the designs,” said Fazlee.

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A bubble dress that transforms into an Empire-line gown from Hayden Koh Chean Peng and Chloe Ng Huei Teng.

Contestants were required to design a man’s and woman’s formal outfit in addition to a casual outfit for women.

Chendering offered a riot of colours that thankfully weren’t jarring unlike some contestants who didn’t combine colours in a tasteful way.

The evening outfit was a stunning interpretation of the modern baju kurung. The fusion of modern batik patterns and traditional block prints was arresting. The casual layered ruffled bustier dress stuck closely to the theme, too.

The men’s outfit had a black long shantung coat with similar design motifs on the front and back, with a matching shirt that stayed with the theme without going over the top.

Second-placed Slash Saiful Hassan, with his Illusive collection, was a personal favourite. Seven years in the business (he’s an in-house designer for a design house) saw him coming up with pieces that, in his own words, were “soft and elegant.”

You could see that he understood the focus was taking batik out of Malaysia. His designs were strong but toned down with subtle colours. The cropped two-tiered empire-line silver-grey dress with blue geometric lines and whorls would look at home in any international city. So too would the silk-chiffon bustier evening gown with pebble details.

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Mesmerising outfits from the Illusive collection by Slash Saiful Hassan (left) who was second in the fashion category.

The icing on the cake was probably the men’s outfit that was the only one that really cut it that night – a shirt using the same motifs cut like a cropped jacket with a unique shawl and matching up-turned trousers. The collection offered the elusive touch missing in many of the other collections.

Hayden Koh Chean Peng and Chloe Ng Huei Teng, both assistants with established local designers, took home the third prize. The duo said they based their collections on ethnic designs from a place called Arusha in Africa. They went with a strong blue base with prints that looked like an adaptation of batik, using acrylic paint.

The piece that probably earned them third place was the short bubble dress that could be untied and transformed into a swirly gypsy tiered gown. Dramatic to say the least!

It was an afternoon of hits and misses. Unfortunately, the hits were few and far between as many of the 12 finalists didn’t have that global reach needed in their collections.

Very few came up with wearable commercial and fashion-forward attire for men. Many of the shirts were too long and unflattering to the male form, and appeared more theatrical than functional.

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Stylish design from Slash Saiful Hassan

There was the usual assortment of fish-tail gowns and bell-shaped sleeves. There was nothing new in the interpretation of the modern baju kurung although one or two outfits from the consolation prize winners were quite creative.

The Red Jungle Fowl team and the duo from Pucuk Rebung deserve special mention.

While the future looks bright for Slash, hopefully he doesn’t fall into the trap of complacency like some of the past winners. This could be seen in the showcase that was held before the results were announced.

Save for the pieces from Azizi and Suhairi Marlina (both third-place winners in different years) the rest came up with mundane outfits. One collection was presented in a colour that was too hideous for words.

This year’s final competition, which drew 102 entries from all categories, was judged by National Art Gallery director-general Associate Professor Dr Mohamad Najib Ahmad Dawa, designer Edric Ong, Melium Group president and designer Datuk Farah Khan, designer Datuk Tom Abang Saufi and Tunku Dara Tunku Tan Sri Naquiah Tuanku Jaafar of Negri Sembilan.

The event was graced by the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah who also presented the prizes.

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Nice play of colours in this short dress with matching jacket from consolation prize winner Red Jungle Fowl.

Among those in attendance were Star Publications (M) Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Datin Linda Ngiam, Penyayang chairman Nori Abdullah and Penyayang chief executive officer Datuk Leela Mohd Ali. The Minister in attendance was Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Results for the other categories – soft furnishing and handicraft – were announced earlier. For Soft Furnishing, the first prize went to Roslan Hussain and Mohamad Yusoff Ibrahim (Pucuk Rebung), second placing to Haslinda Abdul Halim and Mohd Firdaus Abdul Halim (Mimosa) while Junaidi Awang and Asmida Che Aripin (Seri) were third.

Under the Handicraft category, Ideal Design House (Fadzli Irwan Bahrudin, Liew Yong Kian and Syahir Mohd Halid) took home the top prize followed by The Art Studio (Mahathir Masri, Khairul Anuar Masri and Aizat Rashid) in second place and N2C (Nazlina Shaari, Norhayati Suleiman and Siti Rohaya Yahaya) in third place.

First prize winners received RM30,000, while the second placing received RM10,000 and third placing, RM5,000. Consolation prizes of RM1,000 were also given out to the top five finalists in each category.

The total prize money of RM150,000 was sponsored by The Star which was also the media partner of the event. The competition was organised by Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia with the Batik Guild under the Malaysia Batik – Crafted for the World movement, which was started by Datin Seri Endon Mahmood, the late wife of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
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