UCSI's Fashion Students Graduate With Style

UCSI's fashion students graduate with style


KUALA LUMPUR: While models calmly strutted down the runway to thumping bass lines, backstage was a paradoxical whirlwind of activity. In a corner was Nurfilzah Zaireen Zaidi who was struggling to turn on the miniature lights embedded in her pieces. A friend rushed over to help her with it and with barely a minute to spare, coaxed the bulbs to light up for the very first time.

"I was so nervous because I thought they weren't going to work at all," said Nurfilzah, still sounding out of breath after the show. Or maybe it was because she just won the Best Collection Award in the Diploma category at UCSI University's (UCSI) De Institute of Creative Arts and Design (ICAD) fifth graduation fashion show.

Dubbed ‘NEXT', the show featured the collections of five graduating students from the BA (Hons) Fashion Design with Marketing programme and four from the Diploma in Fashion Design.

Tasked to incorporate their vision of the future in their designs, students looked to various sources of inspiration including urban architecture, folklore, the metamorphosis of a butterfly and for Nurfilzah, Chiaroscuro – the ethereal art installation by Canadian artist Sougwen Chung that deftly played with the contrasts between light and dark.

Nurfilzah's three-piece collection incorporated netting with dark linen fabric to create a soft and mysterious vibe, resulting in gentle silhouettes that floated pinpricks of brightness in the darkened hall – an eye-catching effect.

"I was inspired by the art of lights which, similar to Chung's, is what gives life to my designs," she said. "Each piece is a contemporary interpretation that continues the theme of contrasts, such as it is handmade yet digitally enabled."

Nurfilzah's senior, Xu Ya, turned to biology for inspiration. Referencing the human blood cell, she used fresh white brush cotton, silk and yarn to form simple A-lines and handstitched bright red embellishments for a pop of colour. "Biology can be artistic too," she explains. "My collection is for young girls who love the arts and who wants a unique lifestyle."

To complete her five-piece collection, Xu Ya laboured continuously through the 14-week preparation process. "Fashion is not easy, you need to work very hard," she said. "I think I only slept three to four hours each day."

And her efforts paid off when she was presented with the Best Collection Award in the Degree category. 

"I am so happy!" she enthused. "I love fashion and beautiful clothes, and this win validates all that I have worked for. I'd like to thank my lecturer Mr Lucas Lim for being my sounding board whenever I needed to thresh out the complications I ran into during my process."

While Nurfilzah and Xu Ya's creations stood out for the judges, their coursemates did not cede the spotlight without putting up a good fight.

"Today's showcase was fantastic and beyond all expectations," said Professor Dato' Dr Ahmad Haji Zainuddin, Director of ICAD. "I am very proud of my students; they have each demonstrated boundless creativity and innovation under an ironclad commitment to their craft. This is what design is all about."

He continued, "As a university, our responsibility is to provide an environment for our students to thrive, explore and develop their individual talents for once they graduate, they will be creating their own brands and industries. This is the value of design programmes – we are producing not just designers but employers."

ICAD's well-received fashion show is but a microcosm of the Institute's continued success. Its tenacious commitment to design excellence has led to a rapid ascent to prominence, with emerging talents arresting the attention of the creative industry.

Lee Bao En – a fresh graduate – notably headlined KL Fashion Week RTW 2016 by showcasing a 10-piece collection, sharing the runway with Malaysia's most notable designers. 

Her claim to fame started long before graduation when she won the AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2015, besting 350 regional contestants with an acclaimed collection that won praise from Malaysia's design heavyweights Jovian Mandagie and Khoon Hooi. Also the winner of the Best Collection Award for her year's graduation fashion show, Bao En fondly remembers the invaluable guidance of her mentors at UCSI.

"My lecturers were my fiercest critics. They set a high bar for all of us because they understand what it takes to make a name in the industry, and that has helped me improve tremendously," she said. "I'm grateful that they were a part of my journey."

The ‘NEXT' Graduation Fashion Show was officiated by Senior Professor Dato' Dr Khalid Yusoff, UCSI's Vice-Chancellor and President. It was also graced by Dato' Peter Ng, UCSI Group's Founder and CEO and members of the industry.