A woman who attended Kedah Fashion Week riled up much of Malaysia when she did not cover up—adequately
Even a blazer was not enough—not when you wear it on its own. At the recent Kedah Fashion Week (KFW), held in the capital Alor Setar (between 2003 and 2009, it was Alor Star), an attendee was seen and photographed in an ill-fitting suit, with a blazer that was half Bottega-green and half gingham check of black and white. That would usually not have anyone’s knickers in a knot, except that the person wore only her own skin and some strands of beads under what looks like a double-breasted jacket. Unsurprisingly, photographs of her ended up on social media and went angrily viral within hours. Her sartorial choice was apparently so outrageous—even during a fashion week—and offensive that Malaysian daily The New Straits Times posted on Twitter, following the online uproar, that “stern action will be taken against the organisers”—not, curiously, the supposed miscreant.
Kedah Fashion Week is reported to be put together by and staged at Aman Central, a six-year-old, six-storey shopping centre in the city that is the largest in this state, northwest of Malaysia. We have never heard of KFW and had asked our Malaysian contributors and friends about the now-trending event, but all of them were, as one said, ”just as clueless”. Aman Central mall is developed by Malaysia’s Belleview group, also the company behind the popular residential/commercial project, All Seasons Place, across the South Channel of the Straits of Malacca, in Penang. The organiser said that it has staged this fashion week since 2016 to allow “tenants to showcase their latest collection”, but why one is necessary here for the whole of Kedah when the mall’s most recognisable clothing labels are not Malaysian or fashion-centric—Giordano, Guess, H&M. Levi’s, and Uniqlo, is a puzzler.
According to the event invite shared online, KFW had a dress code: “STYLO”, which some invitees could have taken to mean to berpakaian mencolok mata (or dress eye-catchingly). The woman might have merely showed up as stated. First identified as a “model” and then a poser, and finally clarified by the press to be a mak nyah (transgender woman), she has, up to now, remained silent on her choice of attire. Aman Central posted a statement on Instagram to quell the growing speculations. It wrote that “the viral photo of (the) guest… dressed inappropriately… did not reflect the image we’re seeking to promote. We wish to clarify that management did advise all guests to wear properly (sic), however the challenges were unsurmountable (sic).” Forcing attendees to a fashion show to wear undergarments could indeed be an insurmountable task, even obstacle. But, as some would say, releklah, fesyen aja—relax, it’s only fashion.