Designer Farhanna Pura of Na Forrer from Brunei Darussalam exchanged with artisans Lully and Selb of Lully Selb from Singapore for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange - an initiative for established and emerging fashion talent from across the Commonwealth’s 53 countries to showcase the power and potential of artisan fashion skills to deliver new networks, trade links and highlight sustainability.
To celebrate this collaboration between Singapore and Brunei, the focus is on the evolution of the modern Malay woman, as it is a symbol of a shared history and identity. For this project, Na Forrér created an evening dress known as a “Baju Kebaya” – a common traditional womenswear worn by Malay women from Brunei and Singapore during formal events and festivities. The traditional corset crafted from traditional Bruneian Songket fabric is normally worn by brides and grooms for marriage ceremonies and on royal and state occasions. The boxy and high shoulder represents womens’ empowerment and modernity. The dress is made from a 100% wool crepe, featuring a hand-painted Euca silk designed by Lully Selb, and Bruneian Songket, a traditional material woven out of silk and cotton gold and silver threads. Historically, the textile of choice of Malay elite and royalty, Songket was often handed down from father to son or mother to daughter, as prized family heirlooms to be treasured and worn only for the most special of occasions. To exhibit the collaboration between Brunei and Singapore, the Brunei emblem Panji-Panji is featured in the custom textile design.
The look was displayed at Buckingham Palace and the Australian High Commission, London. Both exhibitions were curated by VOGUE's Editor-at-Large, Hamish Bowles.
The project was launched by Commonwealth Secretary General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland and Livia Firth, founder of sustainability consultancy Eco-Age and supported by Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.