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Fashion

Fashion Files: This Entrepreneur Makes A Bold Style Statement With Malaysian Designer Labels

In this fortnightly column, we go into the closets of some of Singapore's most underrated style stars. Here, fashion entrepreneur Dahlia Mohd opens her wardrobe which is bursting with colourful and feminine threads by her favourite Malaysian designers.

Dressed in a neoprene dress by Malaysian designer Fizi Woo with abstract prints (above), Dahlia Mohd looks like a living Sonia Delaunay painting. Its shape is sculpturally couture-esque while the pattern is positively arty. In short, it’s the kind of outfit you’d wear to make a statement.

“Women always look at details and if they spot something they like on you that always get woven into the conversation,” says the co-founder of multi-label designer boutique En Pointe & Co. Dahlia, 36, spent six years in the finance industry before opening her store in North Bridge Road in 2015 which expounds on that style maxim with her own business.

The store stocks her favourite Malaysian labels like Mimpikita, Tsyahmi, Adila Long, Syomirizwa Gupta, Innai Red, Lynda Rahim, Fizi Woo and Nelissa Hilman, showcasing her penchant for brands which are not afraid of using colours and bold shapes and silhouettes in their repertoire.

Over the years, the store has added indie Indonesian and Singapore brands in its roster and also branched out into being a brand consultancy helping small fashion brands tap into production, marketing and retail channels in Malaysia. Dahlia’s next step for her business sees her expanding the luxury made-to-measure bridal market in Singapore — courtesy of her trusted Malaysian designer labels, of course. Here, she opens up her colourful wardrobe with us.

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Dahlia’s answer to a casual smart get-up includes her Mother of Pearl jacket, H&M T-Shirt, Khoon Hooi skirt and Converse sneakers

Describe your sense of style.

“Tailored and timeless with a dash of drama.”

Who are your fashion influences and heroines?

“I love Carolina Herrera, Annie Hall and Jackie O. It’s a way of dressing that will age gracefully so you will never look out of place but always well put together.”

You have a big collection of Malaysian designers in your wardrobe. How did that obsession begin?

“I was exposed to Malaysian designers when I moved to Kuala Lumpur after marrying my Malaysian husband in 2011. He had a friend who worked as a fashion editor in a local magazine and she invited me to fashion shows by local designers.

I was so impressed by their workmanship, design and creativity; they were highly skilled and I loved that their collections were so wearable in terms of design and also the choice of fabrics. My go-to brands: Syomirizwa Gupta, Innai Red, Nurita Harith, Fizi Woo and Mimpikita.”

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“Women always look at details,” notes Dahlia who pairs her Rico Rinaldi feathered and embellished skirt with a metal honeycomb clutch by Skinnydip.

What separates Malaysian designers apart from the big international labels and even their Singapore counterparts?

“Scope. There is a wider and more varied customer base in Malaysia and that means designers have the creative license to produce different types of collections to cater to their target customer.

You can get made-to-measure evening wear/special occasion outfits and ready-to-wear collections which are presented at platforms like KL Fashion Week or private trunk shows at least twice a year for the more prominent designers.

This also means that the designers are able to create and meet the varied demands of the average consumer. Also, Malaysian designers are in tune to cultural norms so they would localise their designs to fit body types, skin tones and also sensibilities.”

Why do you think the notion of glamour or dressing up is relevant more than ever in today’s context?

“I think it is good manners to dress up. I know the weather on this side of the world does not permit us to put on too many layers or limits us in terms of choice of fabrics or length of clothing but it does not mean we should always show up ‘underdressed’ in every sense of the word.”

I enjoy dressing up. It’s sometimes a rather lengthy thought process to decide on makeup, hairstyle, shoes and the right accessories for an outfit, but it sets the right tone and always enhances the social experience.”

Who is one new or emerging designer or label that you have on your radar now?

“(Malaysian designer) Afiq M. His collections are a sneak peek at the wardrobe of the cool, millennial It-Girl. Power suits with shoulder pads, asymmetrical jackets, sequinned lounge suits and full fringed party dresses – what more could you want?”

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The mother of three is partial to pretty shoe designs by the likes of No.21. Here, she is dressed in a pair of emerald green mules by the brand, a T-shirt from Cos, a coat by Variente and a Khoon Hooi raffia skirt.

What is one fashion item you can’t live without and why?

“The Statement Jacket. It covers you up but makes for an interesting conversation piece.”

Share a style tip or secret that you swear by.

“Always alter the wardrobe item you wear the most so that it fits you like it’s made for you. For instance, I wear jeans on most days when I’m running errands I am a mother of three boys under the ages of five but I make sure that all my jeans are altered so it looks tailored and not sloppy.”

What are the brands you swear by for basics?

“Cos and In Good Company for their quality and durability.”

What are the brands you swear by for shoes?

“Too many but I love No.21. Their bow mules are pieces of art I could stare at all day.”

What are the brands you swear by for occasion-dressing?

“Khoon Hooi. His signature: fur, volume and embellishments make for a lethal but balanced fashion combination. Fizi Woo is another brand I dig. His masterful manipulation of fabrics from neoprene to lace to silk means you will have interesting silhouettes and textures; his pieces are always beautiful.”

Photography Zaphs Zhang Hair & Makeup Nora Zee