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24 Minutes with May Tan of Maarimaia on her KLFW debut

Modern femininity

24 Minutes with May Tan of Maarimaia on her KLFW debut
We speak to the designer on her inspirations and vision for womenswear

It's always refreshing to see local labels fresh on the scene. Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week 2018 saw the runway debut of Maarimaia Privé, the made-to-measure label and brainchild of designer, May Tan. The inauguaral presentation was a visual display of structure and texture, with the light ethereal charms of organza contrasting on rich brocade, sparkly sequins and reptilian motifs in soft nude, further punctuating the idea of juxtaposition and duality.

The driving force behind her KLFW debut was the air's "tension and uncertainty" during her ideation process, which dated back to first months of 2018. (Read: The impending 14th Malaysian General Elections.) "I wanted the collection to be a contrast to the times that we're in", and thus created her interpretation of a fashion pick-me-up that involved sorbet hues, sequins and non-conforming shapes, and cites Christóbal Balenciaga's reshaping of women's silhouettes in the 1950s as a key influence in her designs.

On the flip side, "I try not to follow [fashion] shows too much because I don't want to be inadvertently or unknowingly influenced", says May. (In the time of Diet Prada, we know this all too well). Instead, she resonates to her worldwide travels, art, photography and film for inspiration.

May's journey to KLFW started in December 2016 with the birth of her ready-to-wear line Maarimaia, and although relatively new to the design scene, this move was a long time coming. "I feel like I'm most myself when I'm creating", and with a formal background in fashion, graduating from Instituto Marangoni in London, May took the plunge by leaving her job as a marketing manager to pursue her calling.

Forgoing her first opportunity to show at KLFW in 2017 was a deliberate one. "It took me a while because I wanted [my debut] to be creations I feel and stand for.  It's a struggle to create a balance between [personal] aesthetics and commercial value but I'm taking it day by day, and hopefully with KLFW it will be a step forward".

Starting with ready-to-wear and expanding to a made-to-measure line, Maarimaia and Maarimaia Privé share the same ethos of creating feminine silhouettes for the modern woman. She describes the brand as "inclusive" as "anybody can be the Maarimaia girl", and strives to flatter the female form with her details and cuts which highlight the back, neck and décolletage. "These areas on the body are very feminine and sensual for women no matter what their [dress] size". 

Shop the ready-to-wear collection online at Maarimaia.com or head to the stores located at The Studio, The Gardens Mall and Isetan The Japan Store, Lot 10.

Maarimaia Privé made-to-measure is now available appointments. Book your slot here

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Text: Stephanie Boey

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