Eric ChungAnd A household name in the local fashion industry, he recently unveiled his new artwork and ready-to-wear collection titled Army sensea.

The haute couture designer, who founded his eponymous label Eric Choong in 1988, is known for incorporating and applying traditional Malay ethnic elements into design concepts, and for raising awareness of Southeast Asian textile art.

During the Shoppes at Four Seasons Place CollabStore event held in Kuala Lumpur on January 6, Choong showcased his unique art collection inspired by traditional Japanese kimono designs, using batik fabric that he created.

This collection consists of gorgeous dresses, outerwear, pants and blouses for women and men. The eye-catching pieces can easily be mixed and matched with others.

One of the most eye-catching pieces in the collection is the A-line dress which could easily be a show stopper at Choong’s fashion show. The eye-catching dress has five colors and was created using a tie-dye technique, which took nearly a week to complete.

What sets the collection apart is that in addition to the batik designs, he has included some of his own creative art prints. Previously, the haute couture designer had been designing luxurious batiks under his own fashion label.

He even made exclusive batik print designs for the late Datin Seri Endon Mahmood. About 15 years ago, Datin Seri Endon launched a campaign to bring back batik, urging local designers to use prints in their designer clothes.

Among the designers was Choong, who fell in love with batik. Daten Seri describes Endon as a “mentor” who often encouraged him.

His batik designs are bold, creative and unique pieces, which he creates by applying various types of techniques that he has perfected over the years, including tie dye, hand dye, block printing and free flowing hand painting, as well as techniques that he has developed on his own.

“I combine my personal techniques and [traditional] “Batik techniques,” reveals Chung, who creates his own patterns, motifs, prints, and designs.

Just seven years ago, Chung, who was in vogue for made-to-measure wedding and evening dresses, retired from the fashion world he’d been a part of for 30 years.

Currently, Chung is a lecturer at the College of Fashion, which has given him time to delve into the art of painting. He explained that he also considers batik to be an art form.

In fact, the designer loved drawing since he was a child, but his passion for art receded most of his life, until 2020.

That year, he was revived after his friend, a curator who had opened an art gallery in Shanghai, China, encouraged him to rekindle his love of art. Chung began painting again, and the exhibition is titled Art by Eric Chung Boy.

“I have used my knowledge of fashion and batik techniques to create art on canvas. In painting, I use elements, graphics, and some components from batik techniques such as tie-dye and hand-dye.”

“I combine fashion and art.”

Eric showed some of his art pieces that use tie-dye techniques, and acrylic paint on top. “I use mixed media in my artwork. The techniques and knowledge I learned from batik making have been transferred onto the canvas,” Chung said.

His foundation was in fashion design, and color was one of his skills. “I use color when I do art. I use my knowledge of plant-based colors and dyes from batik painting and techniques in my art pieces.”

The vegetable dyes used in his paintings and fabrics are handmade. During the lockdown, he started experimenting with natural and eco-friendly dyes on canvas.

He explained, “I used to go to the market and buy vegetables, flowers and fruits, and then boil them to bring out their natural colors.” “Then I converted them into color pigments and applied the color to the art pieces.”

Chung, who prefers to use coffee and tea, added that his favorite colors are indigo, black and white. The hand-drawn artwork is then converted into digital prints on canvas, which are transformed into garments.

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However, not all paintings were converted to canvas. Some have been selected to be turned into digital art. At the same time, Choong also creates completely different designs for tapestry.

Talking about his new collections, he said, “I hope my batik collection will inspire more young people to wear it every day.”

He believes that people have a misconception that batik clothing is only worn by the older generation on formal functions, and that batik is not “on trend” or trendy for the younger generation.

“I wish my batik collections would bring back this trend,” he said. “I hope more people will wear batik, and batik should be an indispensable piece in every person’s closet or wardrobe.”

Chung’s artwork and ready-to-wear designs can be found at Collabstore, Level 2, Shoppes on Four Seasons Place, which also houses his latest batik collection.

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