Saturday, July 24

Blend of East and West

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MALAYSIA is known to the world as the most diverse in culture and people.

The contrasts — wooden houses to towering skyscrapers and traditional costumes to modern dressing — are some of the country’s unique attractions.

ONE FAMILY: Wee (right), Bryan Chang (secnd right), Beltsos (third left) with the Le Ann Maxima staff.

The borderless world has become a much smaller world, inter-connecting almost everything and popularising cross-culture practices. Fashion is one of the industries given to cross-cultural activities and gaining rapid fame from it.

An admirer of the cultures of the world, especially Malaysia’s, Australia-born Daniel Beltsos, a leading fashion designer in Europe, has been in the country for a few months now to impart his knowledge of the industry.

For him, Malaysia is spiritually rich and he finds inspiration in the cultural diversity and tolerance among the different ethnic groups.

Beltsos also loves fashion — it’s his passion and has always been part of his life. He is an insatiable designer for whom fashion has no boundaries.

“It sparks people’s life,” he said.

“From a very young age, I have always been interested in fashion and was even designing and making clothes for myself in high school. My first masterpiece was a woolen and leather overcoat I made for myself when I was still very young,” he recalled.

He joined Axel Beers in Australia as an assistant artistic director in 1988. Seeking to evolve his career in couture and luxury fashion, he left to study in a fashion college in the world’s fashion capital — Paris.

He lived in France for about 20 years as director of collections for Erik Schaix and during that time, also designed dresses for princesses and First Ladies throughout Europe.

Having been in the fashion industry for many years and travelled numerous times to Asia, particularly Malaysia, as a kid, he sees big potential in Malaysian fashion.

“I feel I can bring some of my experience and knowledge from Europe and share them in Malaysia, especially with Le Ann Maxima,” he said.

While in Malaysia, Beltsos met Bryan Chang, a Le Ann Maxima partner.

He said it was a good meeting as he got to know Chang, Le Ann Maxima and the team.

Beltsos’s interest in the setup grew after that and he decided to join them. He has now been with the company as the chief design director for five months.

He joined Le Ann Maxima because he believes both the brand and the regional market would give him the opportunity to display his talents and use his vast experience to strengthen the East-Meets-West concept of this unique fashion brand.

He described his fashion as “European with an Asian touch”, adding: “People will know my designs because of the quality and cutting of the garments but more importantly, the elegance and femininity is portrayed through the designs.”

On Le Ann Maxima, he said: “I really believe in the brand and how it’s put together — very family-oriented. It is a franchise that looks after everyone.”

Beltsos said although designing is personal thing, he has been able to adapt to the local culture and fashion industry for the Malaysian market. He doesn’t want to make his designs “too French”.

Le Ann Maxima is a local fashion franchise that captures the essence of Asia’s urban women with its tantalising confection of dresses, skirts, shorts, tops and accessories combining everyday functionality with strong fashion sensibility.

Asked which is more difficult – Asian or European design — he said definitely European because of continental varieties.

“Asian Fashion is definitely more colourful in designs whereas European fashion is generally more focused on the cuttings and fabrics.

“There is certainly a difference in women’s figure and sizing — so these are important factors we must consider when designing for the Asian market,” he noted.

Beltsos who likes the weather here, said as a trend-setting company, Le Ann Maxima had its own designing style and a unique image that stamped its trademark and brand.

The team is now breaking Le Ann Maxima down into three labels — Le Ann Maxima Essential, Le Ann Maxima Range and Le Ann Maxima Signature Series.

According to Beltsos, the Le Ann Maxima Essential is a basic line comprising 15 per cent of the collection at very affordable prices, allowing customers to mix and match.

Le Ann Maxima Range, on the other hand, continues to be trendy — the designs are mostly for feminine, career and evening use.

Le Ann Maxima Signature Series consist of limited edition pieces such as Beltsos’ latest masterpiece — the Mermaid Dress. Signature Series items come in small quantity but are still very affordable.

Today, Beltsos and the Le Ann Maxima team are expanding the brand to the European market.

“As I had worked with European central buyers in the past, I believe through the quality of our designs and products, we can get into Europe. We are contacting them for the next Spring Summer collection,” he revealed.

Beltsos has also done 20 extra designs for the Chinese New Year Collection which will be ready before the festive season.

He said as Malaysia has a lot of festivals, he needed to adapt and continually design to come up with new ideas and items.

On beauty, he said everyone had something unique.

“Usually, women have a phobia about some parts of their body but as I always say, women are made differently. Every woman has a unique feature or form to her — so flaunt it.”

He urged women not to think they had to be models on the catwalk to look good because “it is not true.”

On fashion tips, he said “less is more — so keep everything simple.”

“Don’t complicate things. Don’t make them too ‘bling bling’ — don’t put in too many different things — just keep it simple.”

As a people person and very sociable, he said he is very conscious of what women are going to wear.

“I think it’s the inspiration. I can see what size looks nice on them — it simply works,” he enthused.

Beltsos was in Sibu last week to give consultations to Le Ann Maxima VIP customers and promote the Mermaid Dress.

He urged young designers to contact him on Facebook if they had any questions.

To those who dream of pursuing a career as designers, and become successful one day, his advice is always persevere to achieve their goal.

“There are always new opportunities for young creative designers — so you can make your dreams come true — just believe in yourself,” he said.