last night i had the pleasure of joining consul general's wife kak sara to a fashion show! far from being a runway of haute couture - it gave me a richer experience than that.
the asian embassies' group, in collaboration with the abu dhabi ladies club invites us to the 'asian traditional costumes show' in conjunction with international women's day. this show features traditional garb from 13 countries.
i hitched a ride with kak sara along with 3 other chatty ladies (yes, i enjoyed your company very much). when i arrived, i saw flags of participating countries in a row and a field with country-booths in a semi-circle showcasing items for display, for sale and complimentary, unique from each country as well as sweets to be sampled by visitors.
the tourism gals who was supposed to man our malaysia booth had not arrived yet so i took the liberty to lepak at the booth welcoming people with my awesome malaysian hospitality. ewah! my must-ask question was "have you been to malaysia?" hey, i had fun!
the only black dots of the event was that there were not enough food stalls - even then they were just snacks - must pay a "nominal" fee! - and i had imagined sitting at a table while a wholesome dish is served during the show! now i have to pay 20dhs for simple sandwiches!
the show was held in a huge white canopy, made classy with chandelliers. the indian ambassador's wife mc-ed the fashion show with an arabic translator - where i really felt i was in the presence of international crowd. i enjoyed the show tremendously, in awed of the beauty that is us womenfolk; seep in tradition, culture and heritage.
my only complain was that the music was far too loud - other than that, i was a happy clam clapping away.
first up was china, going by alphabetical order. the models paraded the 'chang pao' (did i get this right?) from han nationality. the china dolls really potrayed the essence of a woman - confidence and beauty. some garbs show the beauty of a woman's curve - something the men would always find irresistable.
(honey, you're missing on a lot! just your luck that this was a ladies-only affair!)
next up was india, for what can only be described as a very festive performance. i dare say it was the most entertaining of all, with audiences clapping along to the beat. the usual sari was worn by the models, who then performed a dance from gujjurat - the west part of india. it had the dancers clicking two sticks together to the beat.
i was particularly distracted by an enthusiastic makcik who were modelling a sari - and while other *normal* models would catwalk their way, she actually danced and boogeyed down the runway, much to the pleasure of the audience who cheered in support.
during the interval, i actually approached her to give her due compliment for her cheerful disposition during the show. cool-lah makcik!
indeed, indians have a culture made for loud festivities!
the indonesians took up the stage after that. kebaya was the order of the day - showcasing their indon batiks which "symbolizes construction of women's identity and feminity". i thought they looked like the kebaya worn by the malays on their wedding day - shiny sequins and elaborate beadings.
the models glide slowly on the runway, true to the demure image of an indon lass (or were they very precariously walking on that killer stilettos?) accompanied by the haunting sounds of angklung, a far change from the loud and fast beat of the indians that came on before.
an indon 'princess' also presented a balinese dance, a dance of "happiness of welcoming guests" while holding a gift of some sort that may be a tepak sirih. beautiful.
clap for these kazakhs women next! the moment they all stepped out parading their unique traditional costumes, the word wizards kept popping out.
their peculiar-like (peculiar to me - for all i know they're also laughing at our 'berkemban' dress during malaysia's turn) pointy hat, complete with a flowing veil running from the point just seemed to me what the fairy godmothers would wear. add some moons and stars and you got yourself a wizard!
they also performed a dance from their country - a folk dance which i can only describe as 'syok sendiri'. sorry kazakhs!
later on it's korea! a fan dance and fulltime housewives as models? i won't miss this! the korean ambassador's wife said that in the olden days, only the royalties can wear the costumes that they're showcasing but nowadays people wear them on wedding days and special occasions like new year's day.
while china had the tight-fitting cheong sam, the hard-to-breathe corsets on the thais and the indons with their kebaya, it's a wonder that koreon women don't mind looking like a pregnant lady!
the gown looked regal, of course - and when one walks wearing it, she looked like flying on air with the huge bubble skirt hiding the feet. intricate embroidery lined the cuffs and corners, down to the shoes!
it was certainly the most regal-looking of all performances - the models were poised and was made more when all the models bowed except one who wore the most elaborate of all the korean traditional costume.
..and she was an emirati!
"welcome to malaysia" said the announcer, and with that, 11 pretty models paraded traditional malay garbs from 11 states - i can spot the nyonya kebaya as well as the kebaya labuh, kurung kedah, baju kurung johor - but where's puteri perak?
after the catwalks, the song 'malaysia truly asia' reverberated throughout the makeshift hall. the models held their hands up in the air, and our adorable malaysian kids waved the jalur gemilang. our own ambassador's wife datin saedah showed her cool side, partying along with the crowd on stage.
we brought out the most number of participants, next to philippines. it was a proud moment for every malaysian in the same room, cheering aloud, clapping enthusiastically and waving along.
now, if only there was a traditional dance from malaysia - complete with headgear and songket - the infectious beat of joget or the more graceful moves with zapin. oh well, malaysia boleh!
during the 20-minutes break i went for my rounds in the crowd, visiting the booths. i stopped longest at the korean booth as i wanted to get my korean fan - i was also lucky enough (there was quite a long line) to get my name penned in korean letters, using calligraphy. beautiful.
i also took pictures with some of the performers, chatted with some, asking them about the significance of their costumes and the meaning of their dances. i collected some complimentary items such as sweets 'turkish delight' - a jelly-like candy with nuts inside, and a packet of sri lankan tea. have yet to try!
then it's nepal's turn. i'm not sure i heard it right but the announcer did say the dance performed means "profound feelings of parental house of married woman". it was happy, breezy dance - the sort of you see at the beginning of a tamil movie when they're introducing the heroin working in the middle of a field.
for the fashion part of the show, they brought out their own sari and the garb of the sherpa - known for courage and skills in climbing mountains. there were only four models, but the crowd clapped and cheered them on.
we ladies have to stick together! girl power!
i must say the pakistan narration at the begining was the most descriptive of what they're about to showcase. a "medley of colors", 'luxurious silk and breezy chiffon", '"representing the four seasons.." by using four different colors - red, yellow, green and white.
the pretty models paraded their punjabi suits and then danced along with the beat. this was the first time i saw punjabi top worn with a tight knee length silk pants. they looked sexy and gorgeous. my mind somehow flew to my pretty friend mohana - and how great she would look in one of those. there was even a long-sleeved punjabi suit that i really like!
boasting 1,700 islands, the philippines were next on stage with a "very diverse costume" - and yes, they ate up the whole stage with no less than 20 participants, including a singer with a soothing sweet voice, singing to a live music on guitar. lovely.
"mabuhai!" and the show began. there were three different dances. they wore (forgive my mistake but i spelled them as i heard them) a baro - blouse, a saya - skirt and a tapis - wrap. also - i hope i got this one right - a trahedemistisa - worn by daughters of mix parentage - spain + philippines.
the models were simply sweet and endearing. much like they are in person. i chatted with a couple of them at the philippines booth and they were friendly, with smiles and laughter. i mentioned lea salonga and that got them beaming with pride. even mr. khairul again and again asserts that phillipines are the best in the customer service field. indeed.
another sari extravaganza - this time, interestingly called batik sari from sri lanka! they are worn at weddings and such. the models walked along with the tabla beat unlike others who strut along songs. even the dancers danced only to the tabla and drumbeat.
they strike a pose at the end which was a favorite for the photographers!
the thai silk looked mighty familiar - i have one of those! - from four regions, the thais paraded their cultural costumes with traditional woven pattern accompanied by folk music.
oddly enough, while other countries adopt the same look or feel for each of the models (the indons walked slow, the malaysians strut their stuff, the chinese and koreans poised, the indians boogeyed away), the thais had models who walked slowly and demurely, while some walked with the 'bicycle move', swaying their hips exageratedly to the beat - both giving different impressions when standing side by side. one group standing poised, another group was like high on something...
the last show we watched. there were a couple of other countries left but it was already nearing 11pm and we had to head back soon as we're travelling from dubai, 45 minutes away.
turkey boasted costumes with shades of dark red, marroon and crimson - they were exclusively worn for weddings other ceremonial occasion.
yawn. sorry turkey. it was already late and i was not concentrating anymore.
the way back
since we didn't get a single bite to eat or a sip to drink, we stopped by a burger king along the highway and munch our way back to dubai. thank you ladies - kak sara, kak yati, kak normala and kak anne - for a nice, warm trip to and fro - and for being patient with the awful traffic in dubai marina while sending me!
and hey, i got myself some sweet delights from turkey, a korean fan to keep me cool in the coming dubai heat and some brochures on korea i hope to send back to malaysia for abah. he's going to korea this april. have fun! jangan lupa bawak balik tisu!
count me in next time, okay!