Style in A major

WHAT'S a composer to do in the field of fashion? For one, Alice Jane Chang of womenswear label A-Jane wants to break the rules.

As the first Malaysian composer to successfully enrol into the University of Music Freiburg, Chang is taking a leaf out of the manuscripts to apply on the mannequin.

"When I was studying in Germany, I learnt to think outside the box and open up in order to create something different and unexpected. If you're going to follow the rules, then you can pursue classical music, Beethoven-style from 200 years ago.

"Fashion and music are both art, and quite similar. It depends on how you apply the concept, form, and dynamics into the designs. After all, anyone can play the piano if they want to, but how many can play with conviction?" Chang asked rhetorically.

Nonetheless, A-Jane (www. is not Chang's first foray into fashion. The personal shopper turned boutique owner, eventually answered her true calling to compose art of another sort, namely fashion, in early 2015.

"At the beginning, I was quite happy running a one stop 'fashion corner' where customers could satisfy all their sartorial needs. But it didn't take long before my own ideas occupied my mind and pulled me down this creative path. "So for the past couple of years, I've been staying true to myself and extremely focused on developing my own designs and transforming this fashion corner into an outright fashion label,"quipped the mother of two.

In a nod to her lifelong passion for sound, the pianist and organist bases her designs on New Fashion, that is the amalgamation of abstract art, expressionism, and new music. Her runway 2017 "Influence" collection, for example, is spurred by Dead Can Dance's Song of the Stars, and delves into feelings of frustration, emptiness, conflict, and balance on an earthy canvas of modern elegance and artistic minimalism.

Alternatively, she finds inspiration in nature, humanity, and architecture. A-Jane's upcoming resort collection encapsulates Chang's beach holiday in Redang, illustrated by loose and lightweight materials, stripes, and a touch of ruffles.

In more exciting news, her spring/summer 2018 collection will be paraded down this year's Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week runway, marking A-Jane's debut at one of the hottest fashion events in the country.

"It's going to be very interesting. I just finished 18 designs for SS18, which are minimalist and inspired by architecture. I am excited and look forward to creating new designs for Malaysian fashion," said the 37-year-old.

Despite acknowledging that up to 70% of Malaysian consumers go for the classics and remain conservative when it comes to fashion, Chang opines that the local people have come a long way and are attempting to change their styles if not explore new wardrobe choices. "I would say that they are still dressing for others, and not themselves," Chang observed.

Hence, she bears wearability in mind when designing, as much as she aims for A-Jane's clothing to "challenge the norm and stretch boundaries". With a clientele that ranges from age 18 to all the way over 70, perhaps Chang has the fashion formula figured out. Not to mention, she keeps them excited by rolling out a new collection every three months!