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From Ipoh to the World: Eric Choong’s Inspiring Fashion Journey Across Continents!

By: Rosli Mansor Ahmad Razali

The name Eric Choong may be unfamiliar to those who are less attuned to the current fashion world.

The exclusive opportunity to encounter this Ipoh-born talent during the recent Art Ipoh 2.0 program in Tin Alley was truly captivating. His extraordinary artistic talent, inherited from his mother, has now placed him alongside world-famous fashion designers.

Every word he speaks, always modest and approachable, fails to show that the success he has achieved has altered him as a true Ipoh native.

“My inclination toward the field of fashion art received support from my parents. I continued my studies in fashion at the Hong Kong Institute of Fashion Design in 1983.

“Not only did I obtain a Diploma with distinction, but I also emerged as the Top Student. Therefore, from that point on, I began my career until today.

“In the late ’80s, I returned to Malaysia and established the Eric Choong collection brand in Kuala Lumpur.

“I still remember my first collection showcase, which included wedding attire, baju kurung, kebaya, and much more, held at the Park Royal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, and received an incredible response. After that, life as a fashion designer became increasingly busy, showcasing my creations worldwide, including in Paris and London.

“From there, my brand became increasingly recognized, and I even had my gallery. Afterwards, I received an offer to become a lecturer at The One Academy, Kuala Lumpur, a role I continue to hold.

“Although I am now an educator, my career as a fashion designer continues alongside my rekindled hobby of painting and canvas art for the past four years,” he shared with Ipoh Echo.

His ability to seamlessly incorporate elements of traditional Malaysian culture with contemporary aesthetics into his collections has successfully garnered the attention of various parties on the international stage.

His latest collection, ‘Dream Of My Garden,’ which highlights batik elements through the ‘tie and dye’ painting technique using fabric and acrylic dyes, has truly demonstrated the remarkable finesse of his artistry.

According to him, the inspiration for “Dream Of My Garden” arose when he was in several Asian countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China.

“The beauty and artistry of the tropical natural world, especially the colourful flower gardens, sparked limitless imagination in my mind.

“Based on that amazing experience, it became the motif and print on the fabrics I hand-dyed,” he said.

When queried about the possibility of drawing inspiration from the cultural tapestry and heritage of Ipoh for his upcoming collection, he replied that it’s an idea currently simmering in his creative cauldron.

“My profound affection for my hometown, the vibrant melting pot of cultures known as Ipoh, is undeniable.

The allure of elements like the majestic limestone hills, the graceful coconut palm trees, and the timeless traditional houses is undeniable.
Someday, they will undoubtedly weave their enchantment into the fabric of my artistic creations,” he affirmed.

As the conversation drew to a close, this remarkably charismatic Ipoh native shared a heartfelt desire to give back to his hometown someday.

“Now I feel prepared to impart the knowledge I’ve been fortunate to acquire to the younger generation. Perhaps, when I eventually retire, I’ll make my way back to Ipoh to contribute to the local community,” he conveyed with a warm smile.

Eric Choong’s Achievements and Experiences:

  • Best Costume Designer Award: Won the Best Costume Designer Award at the 19th Malaysian Film Festival in 2004 for his work in the film “3rd Generation.”
  • Malaysian International Fashion Festival (MIA) Awards: Achieved the Designer Of The Year Award and the Best Collection Showcase Award in 2007.
  • Asia’s Most Influential Fashion Designer Award: Received the prestigious Asia’s Most Influential Fashion Designer Award at the 1st Asian Fashion Awards ceremony hosted by China Anhui TV Station in 2012.
  • Designer of the Year: Crowned as the Designer of the Year at the Harbin International Fashion Week in 2012.
  • Hue City Award: Received an award from Vietnam – Hue City Governor and Chairman of The People’s Committee of Hue City during the closing ceremony of the Hue Traditional Craft Festival 2017. Eric Choong was honored as one of the Best Asian designers in 2017.
  • Iconic Fashion Industry Contribution Award: Acknowledged with the Iconic Fashion Industry Contribution Award from Malaysia Global Chamber of Commerce (MGCC) in 2018.
  • Achievement Award at Kedah Fashion Week: Received an achievement award at Kedah Fashion Week from Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Raja Puan Muda Zaheeda Binti Mohamad Ariff (Kedah) in 2022.
  • International Fashion Participation: With over 30 years of fashion experience, Eric Choong is frequently invited to participate and collaborate in international fashion events.
  • Recognition as a Top Designer: Nominated by the Malaysian Tourism Board as one of Malaysia’s top 10 designers for three consecutive years from 1990 to 1992.
  • Representation at International Fashion Shows: Represented Malaysia in Singapore’s ASEAN Designer’s Fashion Show in 1997 and the Hong Kong ‘Asia Young Designers Exhibition’ in 1998.
  • ASEAN Ambassador: Represented ASEAN at the official launch of Wuhan City as the fashion hub of West China in 2006.
  • International Showcases: Invited by various organizations, including the China National Garment Association, the People’s Government of Dongguan Guandong Province, and the Boao Forum for Asia, to showcase his collections at international events.
  • Charity Work: Commissioned by the Estee Lauder Group of Companies to design and produce evening gowns for charity auctions in support of breast cancer awareness campaigns.
  • Swarovski Asia Fashion Tour: Participated in the Swarovski Asia Fashion Tour in 2009.
  • Global Representations: Represented Asia-Pacific at the ‘Sydney Bridal Fashion Week’ and participated in ‘Pakistan Fashion Week’ in 2010.
  • ASEAN Fashion Gala: Showcased collections at the ASEAN Fashion Gala held in conjunction with Liuzhou International Water Carnival in 2011 in Guangxi province.
  • Artistic Collaborations: Co-exhibited with renowned contemporary Chinese artist Kong Jing Hai in 2014 in Shanghai and represented Malaysia at the festival international Des Textiles Extra Ordinaires in Clermont Ferrand, France, in the same year.
  • Television Appearances: Invited to participate in the New Shanghai Oriental TV filming fashion show ‘Oriental Fashion Reality Show’ in 2015 and shared Batik creation and techniques on Vietnamese television.
  • Consulting and Coaching: Served as a consultant to coach and advise on Batik production techniques under the Muslim project from 2015 to 2018, and acted as an Image Consultant for ASTRO Classic Golden Melody Singing Competition in 2015 and 2016.
  • TED Speaker: Invited as one of the TED Speakers by T E D Petaling Street Kuala Lumpur in 2015.
  • Costume Designer for Film: Worked as a costume designer for the Malaysian Penang Hokkien movie “You Mean the World to Me” in 2016.
  • Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week: Invited to the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Kuala Lumpur (MBFWKL) fashion show in 2021 to celebrate his 33rd anniversary in the regional and international fashion circles.
  • Speaker at Fashion Incubation Project: Invited by the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) of Thailand as one of the Speakers of “The Curated Fashion Incubation Project 2022” to share insights into the Malaysia Fashion Market and Fashion Consumption with the new and coming Fashion Channel for Thai Entrepreneurs.

Fashion Design Senior Lecturer: Currently serves as a Fashion Design Senior Lecturer at ESMOD Kuala Lumpur under ESMOD International Fashion & University Group since 2016.

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