Smooth as silk

Fadhil Yunus

Local fashion designer Atiqah Ismail made a splash in the international fashion scene when her designs were showcased during the Celebration of Silk’s Thai Silk International Fashion Week and the Grand Fashion Extravaganza Gala recently.

These events were part of the Celebration of Silk, which is a yearly international event organised in honour of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother of Thailand.

“I had designed a total of 15 sets of garments with a variety of Thai silks while the rest are made of other fabrics,” said Atiqah, the fashion designer and managing director of XOIA.

The Thai silks used were produced by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s Foundation for the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques.

XOIA displayed their modern-traditional designs during the Thai Silk International Fashion Week 2019, held from November 18 to 22 among 42 international designers and 30 Thai designers.

A collection featuring garments made from Thai silks and also other fabrics showcased during the Thai Silk International Fashion Week. PHOTOS: XOIA COMPANY
Fashion designer Atiqah Ismail in a group photo with Chargé D’Affaires of Brunei Darussalam Embassy in Bangkok Pengiran Haji Roni Ismadani bin Pengiran Ismail and spouse at the event

“Globally, fashion is a trillion-dollar industry with over five per cent annual industry growth,” said Atiqah. “The fashion industry has numerous spin-off potentials, job creation opportunities and demand for products and services such as fashion photography, fashion marketing and merchandising, graphic design, textiles and can create demand for local skill-sets such as tailors and seamstresses.

“With the increasing number of aspiring designers in Brunei, it is important to inspire and encourage each other as well as to create a conducive and nurturing environment that can make fashion a sustainable and feasible business in Brunei and for export products.”

The Grand Fashion Extravaganza was held on November 23 at the Royal Thai Navy Convention Hall officiated by the Prime Minister in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, and world ambassadors.

“This Celebration of Thai Silk: Thai Silk Road to the World is considered as one of the greatest activities in 2019 because it is not just honouring Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother, but it also publicises the beauty of Thai silk,” said Prime Minister of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha in his opening speech.

Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Wissanu Krea-ngam said that the continuous promotion and revitalisation of the production of Thai silks, which has reflected the Thai identity for many years, has made Thai silks well-known and widely accepted internationally. This has resulted in better careers and incomes for the local people.

The Celebration of Silk event has been held and organised every year since 2010 by the Thai Tourists Assistance Foundation in collaboration with members of the foreign Diplomatic Corps in Bangkok.

XOIA designed a custom dress for Brunei representative Hamidah Ismail, who showcased the dress at the Grand Fashion Extravaganza on a global stage witnessed by over 2,000 guests from around the world. Also present were world-renowned shoe designer Professor Datuk Jimmy Choo and Air Asia Chairman Dato’ Abdel Aziz bin Abu Bakar as well as business leaders, designers, celebrities, government officials, and diplomats.

Alhamdulillah, I am very grateful and humbled for the trust and generous support from the Brunei Darussalam Embassy in Bangkok, it is indeed very encouraging,” said Atiqah. “Meeting successful designers from other parts of the world was absolutely inspiring and eye opening. This valuable experience has only pushed me to become a better designer.

“The end of this prestigious event is just the start of many opportunities, Insya Allah. The majority of the work and hustle comes after this in maintaining relationships I have established and following up with business leads acquired during these events.”

“This has been an amazing opportunity to learn more about the Thai culture and the significance of Thai silk in their culture as well as its representation of societal benevolence and pride,” highlighted Atiqah.

“Perhaps this event is something we can replicate to promote the tenunan or production of our kain songket and its unique designs and textures while stimulating interests from the current and younger generations as well as raising awareness internationally,” she added.

Atiqah also expressed her gratitude to those who have supported her both in Brunei and in Bangkok as well as those who travelled all the way from the sultanate to support her on this important milestone.