Local designers light up the runway at Sands Macao Fashion Week
Last month’s first Sands Macao Fashion Week, held from October 19 to 24, featuring the latest designs of leading international brands, ended on a high as more than 50 creations by local couturiers appeared on the runway at Shoppes at Parisian.
Eight local designers and their brands took part in the show during the six-day fashion extravaganza – part of Sands China’s campaign to support cultural and creative industries in the city. They were Isa Tang, chief designer and founder of Alexis Jordan; Ella Lei, of ella épeler; Jade Leong, of JADE.L; Kitty Ng, of La Mode
Désir; Ng Sao-chan, of Agência Comercial Nubiano; Isabella Choi, of NEGA C.; Leo Wong, of SOUL; and Vincent Cheang, of Worker Playground.
The show was organised by Macao Productivity and Technology Transfer Center (CPTTM) – a non-profit organisation set up by the Macao government and the private sector to boost local businesses’ competitiveness and promote new enterprises. All the featured designers were part of CPTTM’s Fashion Incubation Programme (MaConsef) 2017, which helps to train those entering the industry.
Leong, 26, who launched her eponymous brand, JADE.L, three years ago, presented five of her earth-tone womenswear designs from her British-inspired autumn/winter 2017 collection.
“I started to be interested in fashion design as a child,” said Leong, who has followed the work of American designer Marc Jacobs since she was a teenager. At secondary school she took fashion design-related courses run by CPTTM, and later went to Taiwan to study fashion design at Shih Chien University.
She hopes to be part of next year’s Sands Macao Fashion Week. “No one would turn down such a good opportunity,” she said.
Leong explained that Macao’s population of only 600,000, plus the presence of many leading international brands in the tiny local market, have meant that in the past it has been difficult for local designers to gain a foothold in the industry. She believes, however, that the Sands Macao Fashion Week runway show has provided excellent publicity for local talent.
“People attending this show were totally different from the audiences at earlier events in Macao and Hong Kong,” said Leong, whose designs are available on Facebook and online retail platform Pinkoi. “There were foreigners from many different countries so we got much greater exposure.”
Veteran designer Ng, whose creations were also featured in the runway show, is best known for her extravagant and elegant evening gowns and haute couture creations. “Sands Macao Fashion Week features a lot of international brands,” she said. “So I think featuring local designers in the closing runway show was an amazing opportunity and offered tremendous encouragement. When I received an invitation to be part of the show, I immediately said yes.”
Ng, one of the pioneers of Macao’s designer-brand scene, founded her own brand, La Mode Désir, in 2004. For the Sands Macao Fashion Week runway show, she presented something new to the audience and followers. “I usually do evening gowns and haute couture, but this time I changed the style and created a collection of smart-casual outfits and party dresses,” said Ng.
Proud of being an “authentic” Macao designer, she said all of her outfits are produced by a small group of experienced local seamstresses at her design studio near Avenida do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida.
“As we are a local brand, I want everything to be done by Macao people in Macao. This is something I’ve insisted on doing, even though it’s quite a challenge.”
Premium men’s outwear brand Alexis Jordan – established in 2014 in partnership with a local garment manufacturer – unveiled its simple and stylish autumn/ winter 2017 collection. The brand, which sources fabrics from leading Europe and Asia, focuses on men who are looking for comfy, high-quality clothing. Ana Lei, marketing manager of Alexis Jordan, has worked closely with Tang – a collaborator with designers at brands such as Burberry, Coach and Polo Ralph Lauren – to develop the brand in Macao and Hong Kong.
“We’re very excited about being part of the show and it was so satisfying to see our outfits on the runway,” Lei says. “We’ve received positive feedback from the audience, which has been a great inspiration to us. All our outfits are made in Macao and of very good quality – things of which we are very proud.”
Alexis Jordon, which has opened a showroom on Hong Kong Island, aims to expand its brand in overseas markets in the next few years. “The local market in Macao is small,” Lei said. “We hope we will be able to boost our brand recognition outside Macao. We will promote our brand more aggressively in the coming years and setting up our own store is the company’s ultimate goal.”