Women on Top
Evanna Ramly 
The flagship store features photos of power women Raeesa Sya, Cherrie Mun and Sarah Lian

Since 2010, Malaysian label Dressing Paula has outfitted the nation’s most stylish women as they ascend the corporate ladder. Few can resist its refined, day-to-night workwear essentials, all given a contemporary, versatile and eye-catching twist. Reaching out with 14 stores across the country, the brand recently introduced its first ever flagship in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

The new space is modern and sophisticated, aiming to elevate the shopping experience for the Dressing Paula woman. Over 1,700 sq ft of clean and minimal interior houses the latest collection, which comprises signature designs of classic cuts, intricate fabrics and bold colours.

“Fashion is no doubt a fast-paced industry. We understand that customers’ expectations are ever-evolving and fashion trends change every season – however, style does not,” says Kay Chow, creative brand director of Dressing Paula. “Therefore, we’re always exploring ways to incorporate designs that are contemporary, practical and provide versatility to our customers. This vision is not only reflected through our clothes but now also in the design and layout of our new flagship store.”

According to Chow, previous stores had a bit of a darker mood to them. “We wanted to freshen things up, which is why you see a lot of light colours – pale grey and light wood, for instance – to give it a boost and a bit more comfort when you walk in. Also, we’re trying to attract a new demographic, speaking to women who are very cultured and always busy. Versatility and practicality, such as in our clothes, is the number one priority for them.”

On the collection’s potential to empower, Chow opines that every piece is strong. “We have a very dedicated team who design to empower. If our customers feel good in our clothes, it means they are empowering themselves.”

FROM LEFT: Lian, Chow, Raessa and Chen champion feminine empowerment in everything they do

Celebrating this refreshing brand direction is an exclusive month-long photography exhibition, in collaboration with fashionista Cherrie Mun, actress Sarah Lian, and entrepreneur Raeesa Sya, all stars in their respective fields. Styled by Haida Yusof Yeomans, the images displayed in the boutique exude strength, intelligence and grace, embodying the many facets of the modern woman.

“We wanted to showcase the versatility and practicality of our clothing, hence we decided to collaborate with these three women who each lead very different lives. With their individual interpretation, they have managed to embody what modern and sophisticated means to them, which are showcased in this photo exhibition,” Chow explains. “It’s uplifting and encouraging to see how these women lead successful lives and continually keep themselves relevant, all while doing it in style. That, to me, is sophistication in a modern world.”

At the launch, Sarah Chen, co-founder of Lean In Malaysia, played moderator in a thought-provoking dialogue with Chow, Lian and Raeesa. The four discussed how women across the globe can educate and enable one another today.

“The modern and sophisticated woman to me is someone who is quietly confident, constantly seeks knowledge, and always keeps an open mind,” says Raeesa, founder and CEO of Orkid Cosmetics. “Be fearless and don’t be afraid of change. Take that first step and go forth with your vision.”

“Modern and sophistication for me is all about expressing yourself through your personality. When your personality stands out, you’re easily heard,” says Mun, co-founder of fashion website Duo Gigs, who has collaborated with high street and high fashion brands from Cotton On to Chanel. “Every woman is unique, so don’t be afraid to celebrate you.”

“The modern woman knows what she wants. Not only does she work hard, she works smart and the possibilities are limitless,” says Lian, who recently won Best Supporting Actress at the Los Angeles Film Awards for her portrayal of Anna in Dax Phelan’s directorial feature film, Jasmine. Lian has since secured a role in her very first Malaysian production, the six-episode miniseries, Anak Merdeka.

“Try as much as you can, even if it means failure. Understand your personal journey by acknowledging your own truth, which is so important and empowering,” she continues.

Chow’s own take? “What I always do is tie it back to fashion. If I feel amazing in something, that makes me feel powerful – because I look and feel good in it.”

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 255.