by Jia Ying Chia
Premium fashion brand Bilang paid homage to the forgotten Bruneian heritage of ‘padian’ at the 3rd International Thai Silk Fashion Week in Bangkok, Thailand last December 2022. The brand is helmed by designers Zulhelmi Kamaluddin and Fikri Afif, who favour creative design storytelling whilst adding touches of elegance, playfulness and glamour.
Their Spring/Summer 2023 collection titled ‘Reminiscence” is a luxurious fusion of regal Thai silk and nostalgic references to the iconic ‘Padian’ sellers who were once seen in great numbers rowing on boats from house to house in Kampong Ayer. The collection was carefully curated to encapsulate the spirit and nostalgia of Padian whose appearances began to dwindle in the 20th century, disappearing totally in the 1980’s.
A combination of vibrant and muted colours, and adornments ranging from coloured gemstones and tassles, were incorporated into the collection’s aesthetic. “We’ve travelled around the country to look for Siraung Bini weavers and for a few months, Bilang has been liaising with the Brunei Arts and Handicraft Centre to navigate through the anatomy of the Siraung Bini, ” said Zulhelmi Kamaluddin. “We’re very glad and absolutely grateful that they could help recreate a structure that closely resembles the original. We also appreciate the assistance from the weaves we met in Kiudang in adding to Reminiscence’s pieces,” he added.
The intertwining collection was styles with the iconic “Siraung Bini” hat made of Nipah leaves worn by Padian women sellers. Bilang also launched five supplementary looks known as ‘Bilang Eidsential Pieces’ for the upcoming Hari Raya season as part of their SS 2024 collection.
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