Meet the young, up-and-coming and super-talented designer duo behind fashion label Fiziwoo who got us swooning over their peplum-atic style.
Bright young designers, Fiziwoo is a relatively new fashion label that rivals Malaysian fashion bigwigs. They are possibly the best thing to happen in the local fashion scene in recent years.
Founded by Mohd Hafizi Radzi Woo (Fizi) in 2009 at a time when he was barely 20, Fiziwoo was joined by Izree Kai Haffiz (Kai) two years later. Today, the dynamic duo boast an army of followers amongst the Malaysian royal families and cream of the society who know their fashion.
Employing the “less is more” principle – and rising above this ever-evolving consumerist world – Fiziwoo, as a somewhat new contender, is adjusting parametres and winning over a growing legion of fans.
The chattier among the two, Kai, takes me down memory lane to the time he had just met Fizi. “I was still studying architecture but fashion was growing on me. From mere acquaintance, Fizi and I became good friends, housemates and business partners.”
It was also during this time these two boys lived with only RM40 a month, with money pooled together from loose change and double digit bank balances. They survived on one meal a day, consisting of a packet of rice with curry and eggs. “I used to cry as I ate because I’ve never gone through such hardship. Life was really hard. Imagine receiving a rousing applause on stage after presenting our collection, only to leave it and start peddling wares like perfumes and other knick knacks to make ends meet. We didn’t ask for help from our family, because we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it.”
Their windfall often came in the form of prize money from competitions, which they diligently chanelled back into their business venture.
Who doesn’t love a peplum pleat? It’s slimming, it’s dramatic and it’s altogether wonderful. This is one area where Fiziwoo excels with flying colours. The construction of peplum the Fiziwoo way is of dreamy proportions and unreplicable. It’s a mix of engineering and architecture, with generous sprinkles of love. “The trickiest part of our design process is always in the cutting and sewing. We have our own technical style of execution and it’s where all the magic happens,” explains Fizi.
Kai says the style DNA of Fiziwoo is underlined by flamboyance, volume, peplum and more peplum. “Our signature style is easily recognisable now. I’ve seen the evolution of Fiziwoo. When it started, it was minimal and once we started to better understand the Malaysian market, beadworks were thrown into the mix. We love exploring forms,” notes Kai further.
Fiziwoo now operates from a lovely boutique in Sentul D7 and have recently acquired another lot in the same building for tailoring space. They are also busy working on the Raya Collection, which received rave reviews last year. “We will be introducing three Raya collections this year, from made-to-measure to ready-to-wear. I’m racking my brains, trying to produce these collections. There’s also the cruise and bridal collection to think about. How do we top last year’s successful collection?” Fizi asks matter-of-factly.
“Fashion comes and goes,” mulls Kai. “The saying: ‘As you know in fashion, one day you’re in. And the next day, you’re out.’ certainly rings true. The hardest part is not achieving success but maintaining it and staying relevant.”
Fizi is mostly inspired by music and movies like The Great Gatsby, Black Swan and Lady of Grace, among others. Kai – on the other hand – takes a rather questioning path, asking himself what will he wear if he was a princess or mistress.
“We’ve always been about enhancing a woman’s silhoutte but in our new collection, which will be introduced in February, you will be seeing a lot more loose fits. The Fiziwoo DNA will still be readily discernible but it takes on a different form,” says Fizi before adding that it’s important to create designs that looks good in pictures because ‘today everything exists to end in photographs’.
Fiziwoo is not popular among the masses, as yet, but it has a strong following among the cream of society. “We are fine with the idea that this is not an affordable brand, accessible only to a select few. We don’t believe in sponsorship. The socialites and celebrities you see wearing our outfits paid for their own dresses. Our products speak for itself. We don’t have to try very hard to impress,” shares Kai.
When asked to describe a Fiziwoo woman, Kai had this to say: “She is a lady in her 30s, she’s single, fabulous, confident and calls her own shots. Women in this age group are no longer in an experimental stage, they know what they want and what works for them.”
Fiziwoo made its debut in the world stage during Miss Universe 2014 in Miami, Florida. Sabrina Beneett wore two of Fiziwoo’s designs during the pageant and one of it was in the top five evening gown list. The dress that Sabrina wore on stage was a beautiful blush-coloured dress that oozed sex appeal without showing much skin. “It was a painstaking effort. The beads were carefully handstiched by six people who took 120 hours to work on the dress,” notes Kai.
The other dress which she wore for the photography session took about 60 hours to make. “Doesn’t she look like the pageant statue? She has the right curves and skin tone.”
Besides Miss Universe, the dynamic duo also showed their collection at Singapore Fashion Week 2015 which had impressive lineups in the likes of Victoria Beckham, Thakoon and Diane von Furstenberg. “My dream is to one day dress Taylor Swift,” gushes Fizi, reaffirming that Fiziwoo, too, was once just a dream.
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