The Heart and Sole of Malaysia; the 4th Malaysian Footwear Design Competition 2011!
When top fashion designer Bill Keith asked me to be one of the judges for the 4th Malaysian Footwear Design Competition, I leaped out of my shoes at the offer. I always like judging, be it the recent Miss Tourism International finals in 31 December 2010 at Sunway Resort, hair shows, fashion contests and now with this shoe contest, I felt like I had come full cycle from top to toe.
Would you believe this clutch bag and boot are the same? A great design by Jayden Gan
As a shoe devotee, I am the male version of Imelda Marcos, one of my idols! At the last count, I had nearly 500 pairs but gave away 200 pairs as my the doors of my shoe cupboards could not close and I ran out of parties to use them. As with my clothes, at least one third had never been worn but of course minor details like these never stopped me from accumulating more! What a magpie mentality I have, always collecting and storing stuff. But now I have decided never to throw anything away as the authorities have asked me to keep all my worldly possessions of the fashionable kind as a museum will be built to house and exhibit them, hopefully before I enter heaven as I want to officiate at the opening of my exhibition on Kee's Fashion!
Anyway, Bill Keith came to fetch me on 11 March as the judging was in Shah Alam. Not having a car I was in need of a lift. We had lunch at Concorde Shah Alam hosted by Tony Ting, president of Malaysian Footwear Manufacturers Association. Bill Keith is adviser to this sole-worthy association which explains his involvement.
We moved to a nearby building for the judging and I was in for a shock of the pleasant kind; the designs were of a high standard and proved once again we are Malaysia Bolih! True, the great ones stood out a mile or 10 inches as in the case of the Tree Shoe but most were amazingly eye-catching.
59 wanna-be Jimmy Choos abandoned practicality, commercial viability and even wearability in their quest of putting their best foot forward! Luckily design was the most important factor. As Bill Keith put it, "We are still at the design or concept stage and these shoes are one of a kind and not meant for mass production to be sold by the hundreds!"
Added Tony Ting, "We wanted the designers to have all the freedom to release their creativity and not be hampered by shoes that had be made quickly and cheaply for mass distribution. We are pleased with the results which have exceeded our expectations. So what if the shoes are impractical and uncomfortable? As a matter of fact, most of them are not suited for normal daily wear and I suspect only the most dedicated fashionista like Kee Hua Chee are able and willing to wear them for hours on end. These are concept shoes like concept cars which are not meant to go into production but are fantastic prototypes of what creativity can produce when freed of rules and regulations!"
The contest was open to all Malaysians regardless of age, height, weight or sexual persuasion! Or experience! Most contestants turned out to be young fashion students. As many were unable to make the shoes themselves for lack of equipment, five shoe manufacturers did the shoes to the designers' specifications at a special price. The kind hearted five were Four Seasons Collection, GHT Shoes, Chanz Collection, Raymond Wong & U and Yoko Mega Trading.
The top 3 winners of Men and Women shoes will each get RM 5,000, RM 2,500 and RM 1,250 plus RM 1,000 for 5 Most Promising Designers from the Women's category as the Men only had 11 entries. This is a women's world you know.
The other two judges were top fashion designer Jonathan Cheng and owner of Nose shoes Sue Koh and of course myself in case you missed reading this bit earlier!
The winners will be announced on 7 April 2011 at the Malaysia International Shoe Festival organised by Malaysia Shoe Manufacturers Association and Ministry of Tourism under the indefatigable Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. The Malaysia International Shoe Festival will be held at Putra World Trade Centre from 7 to 10 April 2011 and don't ask me who won as I don't know!
Lady Gaga will go gaga over them but mere mortals can admire these fantasy shoes.
Here is a sampling...
The Tree Shoe by Tan Lee Mun. You heard of the phrase money doesn't grow on trees. Well, in this case, trees shouldn't sprout from shoes either but stranger things have happened! The full name of this creation is a bit of a mouthful; 'The Most Beautiful Creation of God---Trees'. Mercifully the branches are made of soft , rubbery material so the person in front of the wearer will not have his or her leg pierced during rush hour.
The Roller Boot by Cathy Toong. The ingenious heel ends as a roller but alas, it will not increase your walking nor running speed. In fact, when worn, the roller must be tightened so it does not roll or move. If not, you will be flailing all over the place as your legs run out of control. But once screwed on tight, the roller acts like a normal heel.
Speaking of a good screw, scroll down...
The shocking silver Screw Boot!
That becomes a Screw shoe with killer heel
This Screw Boot with detachable boot flap by Alfred Hor has a real screw as heel! You heard of killer heel and now you can really, truly wear one! If heels could kill, this is pure murder! I love this so much I am ordering one as Alfred assures me he will give me a good screw... and it is quite stable though he does not recommend dancing all night long on it and when I climb staircases, it is advisable to hold on to the railings.
You will light up a room or any conversation with this Screw shoe and speaking of lights, let's go back to the Tree shoe and its heel....
The back heel of the Tree shoe lights up! Yup, press a concealed button and the interiors of this heel shaped as a tree trunk replete with root on green ground amid a blue sky actually lights up! Now when you walk on lonely, dark roads with your heels all lit, the cars coming behind you can see you and not run over you!
The Ping Pong shoe by Lukman Hassan. The 3 ping pong balls are real and obviously glued together but surely if you take one step your weight will smash the flimsy balls. However the designer has ingeniously inserted a hidden steel heel which is even bent at an angle to accomodate the sloping heel! Now you can clown around and fascinate your friends who are holding their breath waiting for you to pop the ping pong balls.
Fit for a funky Queen by Kai Ming Chin
I love the weird heel of this Umbrella booty though I wonder if it balances properly. Oh well, even when barefoot we do have days when we are off-balanced in which case this shoe should nullify the adverse effects! By Cathy Toong who says the hanger must be removed when worn as it acts as a shoe horn.
A modern take on your trusty old clog or 'cha kiak'!!! By Eamoon Chiang
This Mermaid shoe by Elizabeth Kam is all froth and fuss and looks like she has squeezed a doily inside. But you can use the fabric to wipe and dry your hands when wet.
I also love this Illusion Booty by Leo Leong as it reminds me of those silvery balls in discos that reflect the laser beams.
The Manta Ray shoe by Peh Chin Yee
Manta Ray shoe
The obverse side of Manta Ray shoe seems like the wind has blown a giant sweet wrapper around your ankle. By Peh Chin Yee.
YOU HAVE SEEN THE SHOES, NOW SEE THE DESIGNERS, MOST OF WHOM SEEM REMARKABLY NORMAL, SANE AND LOWKEY AND NOT AT ALL FLASHY LIKE THEIR JUDGE---ME!
Jayden Gan below impresses me by the legful with his unique Animalia boot-cum-bag!
Can you believe both bag and boot are one and same?
Remove the two flaps, zip them up and presto, a funky and chic bag! Perfect for when you forget to bring your bag or need an extra one at the last minute or did not wish to check in your bag while clubbing!
This is how Animalia boot looks like once the two flaps are removed and zipped into a clutch bag! The fur is taken out to give the boots a brand new look! Versatility is key! An ingenious design that is wildly funky yet is commercially viable. Anyway Jayden trained at Dato' Jimmy Choo's old school in London---Cordwainers! So the shoes he makes are in good hands!
This men's shoe looks remarkably normal and elegant, the sort you find in upmarket shops. Nice but nothing to shout about. I was about to stomp off when Yen Yen who was not the designer (as designer Keith Tain was in China) revealed a secret that swept me off my feet and I am not easily floored!
All it needed was a good screw! Hang on, this is not porn so read on!
Here we are---all you need is a good screw or rather unscrew. The heel then comes apart to reveal its secret---it is a shoe polish box! How brilliant can a heel get? Never again will your shoe be grimy and dirty as your shoe now has a built-in shoe polish!
Is this ingenious or what? Now you know why designer Keith Tain simply calls it Shoeshine Shoe!
The Sailing Ship shoe by Shelin Wong has heel that looks like part of coat hanger and the sail has to be removed when worn.
At first I wondered why Karen Chong named this Spider shoe then I realised the furry pompom was actually a spider or at least supposed to be one!
This is the Buah Nangka or Jackfruit Boot and I will tell you why...
This is why as the boot mimics the skin while under the fruity strands are the fruits symbolised by the golden thick threads!
Trust me, this Way of the Bushido clog is as heavy and cumbersome as it looks! I tried wearing it so designer Eyson Ho begun loosening the laces. Ten minutes later he was still at it so I gave up.
Look Ma, three heels, says Chen Yi Gee
Illusion and Spy shoes by Leo Leong
Don't mess with the wearer of the Unicorn shoe and don't be wishy washy with the Mermaid shoe. Both by Elizabeth Kam.
The heel is supposed to look like bamboo but is made of solid wood. By Mohd Hafizee.
Ping Pong Shoe by Lukman Hassan
Not only are her shoes hot, Cathy Toong sizzles too.
The Carriage shoe by Tay See Chia does resemble Cinderella's carriage
The Profile shoe by Lee Pei Yin. Notice the resemblance between shoe with nose and red lips and the creator's profile?
Meet Tan Lee Mun the Tree maker...
It takes 2 to tango and 2 to fall in love. One shoe spells Lo and the other Ve so you need both to be in LOVE. By Chua Hong Yong
I like the double heels which seem to tiptoe on the floor like the way my darling french poodle Dedione traipses around my house. Alas, this shoe is made of metal and impossible to wear! Low Chun Kian either is a purist or a sadist!