Malaysian designer Bernard Chandran was a shy kid. You might not believe it of the designer-slash-media personality whose slinky silhouettes and glam touches have made him a favourite with celebrities in search of camera appeal. His more sedate moments have made it into the wardrobes of the royal families of both Malaysia and Brunei. And he was also something of a familiar face in Malaysia where he appeared on television in the local version of Project Runway.
Chandran, who shows collections at international fashion weeks and now has an established Paris showroom, initially trained as a designer in Malaysia having decided early that he wanted a career creating fashion. His precocious talent earned him a place at the Paris Fashion School and there followed a number of years honing his talents working for established Paris-based brands. In the mid 1990’s, he opened his first store in Kuala Lumpur.
His SS16 collection is a curious affair, a kind of combination of 1960’s sci-fi and the 1940’s structured nostalgia that has recurred frequently in his collections in recent years. There’s even a faint suggestion of classic Yves Saint Laurent in some of the trouser and blouse combinations, perhaps an homage to the master that he can’t have ignored with his Parisian training. In fact, there is something very classically French about this collection, from all its feminine nips and tucks to the dusky subtle tones of the luxurious fabrics used in combination with dramatic black. But, somehow his Asian roots also come through even though in a far more sublimated way than in earlier collections. Things are altogether far more eclectic here; rich oriental fabrics, Barbarella-style Roger Vadim chic and embroidery and beading that even brings in a little Art Deco. The asymmetrical halter neckline is one of the main motifs of this collection, so perfect if you’ve got good shoulders to show off when the weather warms up.