In a dazzling display of multicultural splendour, the Kebaya Heritage Design Competition, hosted by the International Conference on World Cultures, was launched amidst a grand gathering at the Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex. Women of diverse ethnicities, adorned in their exquisite kebaya attires, elevated the event’s glamour quotient.
The event was inaugurated by Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan, the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, and witnessed the attendance of numerous dignitaries, including designers, celebrities, diplomats, and government officials. In his address, Khairul emphasised the importance of recognising and preserving the rich cultural tapestry of Malaysia, noting that the competition enhances the national market’s appeal in the realms of tourism, arts, and culture.
The launch event was punctuated by captivating performances such as a traditional Malay dance by the Sekolah Seni Malaysia students, and a kebaya fashion show by reigning beauty queens from across Malaysia. The event elegantly married heritage with modern fashion aesthetics.
Initiated on June 15, the Kebaya Heritage Design Competition has so far witnessed participation from across Southeast Asia, with about 100 entries from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines. The competition, which continues until July 30, will then transition into a stringent selection process, with judges whittling down the entries to 50 semi-finalists. These participants must produce a prototype kebaya by August 30 and provide a detailed presentation on their design’s cultural significance.
The competition will culminate in a grand gala dinner on September 9, where a panel of judges from the five participating countries will select 25 finalists. These finalists will have the opportunity to showcase their designs in a fashion show. Of these, three will be declared winners and have their designs auctioned off for charity, to support local designers.
The grand prize winner will receive US$5,000, while the second and third prize winners will receive US$3,000 and US$2,000, respectively. According to ICWC president Azmi Mustapha, the competition is held to support the recognition of kebaya as a tangible cultural heritage in Unesco, showcasing to the world that the kebaya is here to stay. He also expressed hopes of sending the winner to Cannes, France, for a fashion show.
The event saw the participation of ICWC 2023’s Kebaya ambassador, Wanna Ali, head judge Juita Jalil, and competition coordinator Asfarena Samion Mon. Asfarena expressed hopes of reaching the target of 500 entries before the end of July, emphasizing the kebaya as a symbol of tradition and heritage across the ASEAN region.
Juita Jalil encouraged competitors to present designs steeped in culture and tradition, yet embodying originality and innovation. She affirmed that the beauty of the women in their kebayas is a testament to the timelessness of this traditional attire.
News based on Marketing Interactive.