The ele­gant rebel

A Malaysian de­signer com­bines clean lines and a re­bel­lious spirit in her de­signs, writes

New Straits Times - - Flair -

IMAG­INE this — a classy, lady-like style with some bad girl vibes that doesn’t make the wearer look odd. Or con­sider the classy looks of Ce­line or Yves Saint Lau­rent, in­fused with the in-your-face at­ti­tude of Vik­tor & Rolf. Bold cre­ativ­ity from op­pos­ing spec­trums in the name of fash­ion. And when it comes to com­bin­ing so­phis­ti­ca­tion with a raw and re­bel­lious spirit, fash­ion de­signer Jo Disaya is an ace.


Jo Disaya uses rad­i­cal­ism and re­bel­lion in both strong and sub­tle ways. With an­drog­yny as its foun­da­tion, the la­bel fo­cuses on de­fined sil­hou­ette with at­ten­tion to ac­ces­sory de­tail­ing and fab­ri­ca­tion.

Es­tab­lished in 2015, Jo Disaya is a new­bie in the in­dus­try. How­ever, the new kid on the block was al­ready mak­ing waves in the global fash­ion arena since its de­but at Paris Fash­ion Week in 2015.

Fol­low­ing the event, in which the la­bel re­ceived rave re­views from Europe, it had its maiden show­case back home at the Kuala Lumpur Fash­ion Week in the same year.

The pret-a-porter la­bel is named af­ter its founder, Jo Disaya. “Yes, that’s my real name,” says the young de­signer who is of So­phis­ti­ca­tion and sporty looks can go to­gether with Jo Disaya. Chi­nese and Thai de­scent.

“My de­signs and cloth­ing range are very per­sonal to me. It’s about char­ac­ter. I’m also a hands-on per­son and very par­tic­u­lar about ev­ery­thing I do. I guess that’s why I’ve cho­sen to brand it around my name,” says the nat­u­ral-born tal­ent who prefers to be called Jo.

Raised in Aus­tralia, she started sketch­ing de­signs and imag­in­ing her own run­way shows at 13. She read law and grad­u­ated from Monash Univer­sity, Mel­bourne, but her pas­sion has al­ways been in fash­ion.

“Law is some­thing more con­crete but I never liked it. It’s just not me. Fash­ion has al­ways been me since I was very young.”

Jo started her ca­reer in the fash­ion in­dus­try as a stylist, mak­ing be­spoke pieces for a small num­ber of clients.

“To start my own la­bel took a lot of guts. But be­ing in the in­dus­try has taught me a lot about its know-how and has opened up a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties for me to meet es­tab­lished and up­com­ing de­sign­ers.

“And that was how the jour­ney be­gan,” she says adding that the la­bel spe­cialises in women’s wear, with a few uni­sex pieces in ev­ery col­lec­tion (usu­ally out­er­wear). UN­ORTHO­DOX THINKING

Ev­ery­thing about the la­bel — from the look to the ma­te­ri­als or fab­rics used — glo­ri­fies in­di­vid­u­al­ity and re­flects the strong, non­com­formist styles and ex­pres­sion of the de­signer.

For ex­am­ple, when white was the least likely colour op­tion for out­er­wear, Jo showed white jack­ets in her Au­tumn/ Win­ter col­lec­tion last year. And if bright colours or flo­ral mo­tifs were com­mon or ex­pected in a Spring/Sum­mer col­lec­tion, Jo used those el­e­ments in the re­cent 2017 Au­tumn/Win­ter range.

“I al­ways do things the op­po­site way. I don’t con­form to the norm or fol­low trends. When I de­sign, I do what I like or what in­spires me. And when it comes to run­way shows, I ask my mod­els to feel what they wear and go freestyle.

“I min­imise on styling and chore­ograph­ing be­cause I know my de­signs are loud enough,” says Jo.

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