At some stage of a local designer’s life, one is bound to come across this query. It is also one of the most aching questions because the thought that comes through my mind is: “Do you value yourself less than a person from another country?”

But I can’t say that can I? That would be really bad customer service. So I try to explain that the materials used are not some cheap disposables and that the workmanship is of high quality.

I know it is normal to look for a bargain, but it is such a misconception that being local is equivalent to being inferior. The mentality that home-grown equals to falling below-the-mark is still sadly prevalent among our community, and unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

As time goes by, skills and talent are no longer restricted by geography or ethnicity. Home-grown maestros are popping up everywhere, and there is certainly no shortage of ability this side of the world. Native flavour is infused into new designs, and thats where one gets a fresh take on creative fashion.

Here are some creative individuals in the region whom I truly adore:

Khoon-Hooi-Malaysia

Malaysia’s very own – Khoon Hooi! Always refreshingly fashionable!

MY

Young & ultra talented, Fashion photographer – Michele Yong from Sabah

JL

Jonathan Liang, making it BIG from Asia to Paris!

Rizalman-Malaysia

Another home-grown talent, Rizalman with his tradition-infused pieces.

occasions

Wedding planning & event extraordinaire – The Occasions Wedding Eventeur weaves magic in every setting!

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Jenny Sun works the camera like a conductor works an orchestra.

SS

Making waves with their colourful headbands – Sereni & Shentel from Borneo

Mint event

Always armed with creative ideas & aesthetically enhanced masterpieces, the team behind Mint Events & Soirees never fail to wow an audience!

disaya

Looking at this pix, would you have guessed that this is Disaya from Thailand?

veluz

Artisan bridal designer, Veluz Brides of Philippines – look at the intricate details!

axioo

So in love with Axioo’s styled photography and amazing ideas that pushed all boundaries!

Tex

Indonesian Tex Saverio, some said he’s on the same par as Alexander McQueen!

frederick-lee-Singapore

Singaporean Frederick Lee’s work is always out of this world!

KevinSeah

Every gentleman’s sartorial fantasy – Kevin Seah Bespoke

TanYoong-Singapore

I have always been a fan of Tan Yoong and his ethereal pieces.

As you can see, there’s really no lack of talent in this part of the world!

Admittedly, established fashion houses do have their own sense of appeal. Through generations of strategic brand building and painstaking quality control, they have grown from strength to strength. I believe that most of our society has progressed intellectually to peel away the layers of glitter and assess the things that really matter: quality, design, fabric, detail, service….and a kinship with the designer who is actually designing your gown!

Gone are the days when a label was the only factor that pushed people to make purchases; now, the savvy buyer would certainly be able to distinguish the critical points in their selection.

Today, quality materials are not exclusive to the province of high-end foreign labels but can be found in many places including our own backyard. This is something that I am very proud to emphasize: using quality materials.

material00

Inordinate amount of satisfaction and pleasure in the materials I use…Swarovski crystals are just so fun to play with.

There have been many requests by prospective clients who liked one of my designs, but asked to replace it with a cheaper material and of course – cheaper price. I declined.

Why? A number of reasons comes to mind: foremost being that the fitting and shape will not be the same, the flow of the gown turns into a curtain and the silhouette becomes a plastic Barbie.

But the most important reason of all is that when a bride wears one of my designs, I want her to know and feel she is wearing a Celest Thoi.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I am at par with some of the greats like Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Karl Lagerfeld, and so on and so forth, but it truly IS frustrating when someone pops that question: “Why charge so expensive? You’re just a local designer.”

vera&models

Vera Wang surrounded by her masterpieces.

giorgio-armani

Timelessly amazing – A true legend.

carolina-herrera

Carolina Herrera, ageless elegance.

Karl-Largerfeld-Chanel

The great Karl Lagerfeld!

Well, enough with the ranting. The best way to prove one’s worth isn’t about sitting back and whining; its about taking action! So how will I do that? Winning the satisfaction and bringing joy to one client at a time!

With love,

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