Everything’s coming up roses for two of our Malaysian beauties.
TWO of the country’s finest beauties, Deborah Henry and Kavita Sidhu, prove that beauty and brains do go together.
Deborah for one, has been using her starpower to highlight the plight of refugee children since she was crowned Miss Malaysia World in 2007.
“I love children,” said Deborah, her wide eyes suddenly lit up. “They are the future but they are also the ones who suffer the most from our bad decisions. Somebody has to help them.”
Currently, she manages the Save Education Centre for Somalian children in Malaysia.
“I believe that all children have the right to education and my centre is a tool to help them achieve that,” added Deborah, 25, in an interview at Athena restaurant in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur recently.
There are about 60 Somalian refugees at her centre but only five teachers to do the work. The centre survives mainly on corporate sponsorship and donation through the Save the Kids Education Fund (SKEF), a nonprofit fund that supports education and selfdevelopment initiatives for children living in difficult circumstances.
“We’ve also had mini fundraisers. The children made duit raya packets for sale two months ago and they will be making Christmas cards soon,” she said. They will be sold at her friend’s boutique in Bangsar, KL.
Deborah will also be spearheading a children’s charity fashion show entitled Fashion Gives Back, which will be the opening slot of the Malaysia-International Fashion Week 2010 (M-IFW’ 10) tomorrow. The fashion showcase, scheduled to be held at the centre court of Pavilion Kuala Lumpur at 4.30pm, will feature celebrity mothers and their offsprings, and modelling clothes from Guess and Poney.
“There’ll also be a performance by the Kuala Lumpur Children’s Choir,” the modelemcee revealed. The event will mark the start of a six-month-long charity campaign to help children in need.
“I’m glad to be able to help children through fashion-related events,” said Deborah, who admitted that she would love to have children of her own someday.
“I would like to have three, ideally, but I can’t really plan. Things change when you become a mother, so ask me this again after my first kid – and I don’t know when that will be,” she said with a laugh.
One thing for sure, we will be seeing a whole lot more of the Irish-Indian beauty as she will be the host of Who’s Next Designer Search organised by the Malaysian International Fashion Alliance (mifa).
“Some of the contestants are really good – their designs are fresh and they have good attitudes.”
However, she reckoned others can be “too literal” with their designs. “If you want to design an outfit that’s inspired by a tree, it doesn’t mean your dress should look like one! One should look at creating one’s own concept and story around the tree,” she described.
Deborah, who began modelling at 15, also advised: “It’s good to be creative but it’s pointless to make something that nobody wants to wear. Clothes must sit right on a woman’s body. Interesting design elements are great, but being able to sell and market your clothes is the key to success.”
Actress-model-producer and now designer Kavita gets Deborah’s point: “My philosophy when it comes to designing clothes is simple. I want women to think: ‘It’s so easy to wear them’ and not, ‘How would I wear them?’” she explained.
Her new eponymous clothing brand Kavita features a resort-wear collection that is “easy to wear but glamorous”. She calls it “affordable luxury”.
“There are lots of blue, green and purple jewel-tone silk and chiffon gowns in my collection,” she said, adding that her clothes will also feature “Roberto Cavalliinspired” bold prints and some ethnic designs.
Kavita elaborated: “My clothes are something women can wear on a holiday or to cocktail parties.” The collection also boasts a range of Brazilian-made bikinis and swimwear with “colourful and intense embellishments”.
The 39-year-old added: “I travel quite a bit, and have been to resorts in Europe and Bali. I’m always inspired by how well women dress on holiday. They’re so stylish!
“I try to incorporate resort-like elements into my designs, especially European elements. It’s aspirational; it’s like escapism.”
Kavita’s line is seen as as cross generational: “Young women are inspired to look like older, glamorous celebrities, while older women don’t want clothes that make them look old. My clothes are for women of all ages.”
Apparently, even the average Jane can wear them. “From my observation, models are getting skinner. But my clothes are not just for skinny women, they fit women of all sizes,” she elaborated.
“That’s why I love to use models who are a little bit curvier. They are sexier. I don’t like using girls who are too skinny as it’s hard to show off their curves.”
Smiling, she revealed plans for a Kavita store but politely declined to divulge further. “I’m going to sell my clothes online too,” she added.
Kavita, who was Miss Charm International 1990, will showcase her collection at the mifa Gala on Nov 6. She will also play host to mifa’s Who’s Next Model Search.
“I’m no Tyra Banks,” she exclaimed. “I don’t like labels. But I do feel I have so much to offer as a mentor to aspiring models. Some of the girls have real potential.” Surprisingly, there were no catfights on set and Kavita said all the models were very supportive of each other. “The modelling industry is quite cruel. You need to have the face, body and height for it. If you don’t have the genes, there’s nothing much you can do.”
Kavita, who has been modelling for 15 years, added: “You need to have that ‘elusive’ X-factor to be a successful model; you can’t define what it is but someone with that appeal will appear a star onstage and their photos will turn out great. It’s like an actress who just glows onscreen.”
Her advice to aspiring models? “Be realistic. Before you go to a modelling agency, ask yourself whether this is the profession you want to be in for the next 10 years.”
Currently, Kavita has a new local feature film in the pipeline and is looking forward to starting an eco-based range of fashion wear as an extension to Kavita, in collaboration with the Malaysian Nature Society.
“The range will include the use of natural fibres such as organic cotton, hemp and nontoxic dyes for my materials,” she said, adding that it’s a long-term commitment on her part to highlight environmental issues and corporate social responsibility.
“The idea is to create sustainable fashion wear with the use of ethical practices in the manufacturing process.”
Between acting, designing, modelling and producing, the multi-tasker said: “I can’t decide which one I love most. They’re all part of me!”
Fans can catch more of Kavita and Deborah in the shows, which will be aired via online TV on the newly revamped mifa portal. n The Malaysia-International Fashion Week, which will be held tomorrow until Saturday at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, is organised by mifa.
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< Kavita modelling a long resort-inspired dress from her own brand Kavita.
Somali refugee children from Save Educational Centre, with volunteer Deborah Henry, having a blast on their educational trip to Aquaria KLCC in Kuala Lumpur recently. Deborah uses her starpower to highlight the plight of refugee children.