Monday 4 February 2013

From Couture to Read-to-Wear: Malaysian designer Jovian Mandagie for

My Lebanese genes must have something to do with it but I just love couture!

In fact, there’s nothing that gets my heart pulsing quite as much as slipping into a custom-made couture creation which I have been lucky to have had on a few occasions.

But while couture can be the most sumptuous thing you could ever wear, sadly it almost always comes at a hefty price tag which not many people can afford, especially the young fashionistas.

However someone seems to be doing something about it, namely up-and-coming Malaysian designer Jovian Mandagie.

Love this look from Jovian's 'Femme' collection!

Known in South East Asia as the young couturier - who have managed to have clientele such as former Raja Permaisuri Agong and H.R.H. D.Y.M.M. Tuanku Nur Zahirah as well as other stars and royals from the region, the 26-year-old designer has just launched his affordable ready-to wear collection (Jovian Femme) inspired by his couture creations on

And by affordable I don’t mean the H&M collaboration prices which are still hefty at an average S$300 and S$400. It is expensive-looking and gorgeous designs which each surprisingly cost less than S$200 a pop!

Not to sound snobbish but I’m always skeptic about evening wear quality because to me, luxury and cheap don’t mix. I’d rather be dressed down in a simple silk dress than have an elaborate cheap-looking gown which screams look at me. And that’s exactly why I’m very impressed by Jovian’s collection. It looks really well-fit and expensive but costs not more than what you’d pay for a dress of lower quality and generic design at a high street shop.

But that’s not it. The designs struck me as being very elegant, wearable with a young feel to them which was the aim of the designer as to reach a wider and younger audience.

From cocktail frocks to fitted jacket and kaftans, every piece looks gorgeous with enough details to make it interesting yet classic enough to not look dated in a couple of years time. I’m especially impressed by the fit and cutting which judging by the photo looks quite impeccable – something hard to get at this price tag.

So why would someone who understands luxury and has had a successful career as couturier, launch into a ready-to-wear affordable market ? According to Jovian, it has always been his dream to see everyone wear a piece of his creation.

‘I understood that not everyone can afford couture pieces. Although it took me a while, but I finally found the right time and the perfect designs for my Ready-to-Wear line,’ he said adding that his experience designing dresses for the VIPs between 45-60 years old ‘has educated me on the taste and preference of that age group. The launch of my RTW line has definitely broadened my reach tremendously and I'm happy to say that I am able to cater to all women now.

I definitely respect that and coming from a young Asian designer - who is famous for re-interpreting the kabaya and working on modernizing Malaysian batik - it actually holds much more sincerity and ambition to build a career rather than a big designer labels whose aim from an ‘affordable’ line is usually no more than making profit.

Going back to the clothes, I really like the elegance, simplicity and modesty in most of the pieces. I especially love the jacket with lightly embellished shoulders and sleeves which makes a great piece to pair with a cocktail dress on a cooler evening or more modest environment.

I also like the purple crepe mini-dress which looks sexy yet not too skimpy due to the tailoring effect and the front details which are great to hide any small belly like mine ;-)

All in all, while Jovian’s collection is not really couture, it definitely embodies some elements which only a couturier can appreciate. And the fact that it comes at such a price can only be a good thing and hopefully encourage people to buy more Asian designers without compromising quality or their budgets.

Jovian Femme collection is available at Zalora. 

My favourite two pieces from Jovian's collection. Just love
how they work so well together!