Chantique: Creating bold local designs on international fashion runways

Surrounded by models wearing his latest collection of romantic ruffles and mood-enhancing colours, homegrown local designer Fadzil Hadin has been making his presence known on the global stage for more than 12 years.

Timeless with a touch of feminine elegance, the creative director of Chantique Brunei has displayed his works around the world, including a runway debut at the Milan Fashion Week in 2018 and the ASEAN Korea Fashion Week in Busan, South Korea.

Fadzil is a self-taught designer with a lifelong passion for fashion. Growing up with a love for architecture and interior design, the local designer was always fascinated by the rich history of textiles, shapes and designs.

Image courtesy of Chantique

For the Dubai-based designer, fashion and architecture have always had a close relationship, in how the two arts intertwine and influence each other.

“As a young child, my parents spoiled me with Legos and I love to construct model planes. From there I have always been fascinated by shapes and designs. Even to this day, I still build my own architecture models and collect not less than 1000 aircraft models,” he shared.

Fadzil’s interest in the world of fashion and design began when he was studying in Singapore. He describes fashion as fast-paced and competitive.

Image courtesy of Chantique

Although he started his education by dipping his toes into public relations, it was during his days working as a booker to models and celebrities for Diva Models Singapore that he realised his newfound passion for fashion.

“Back when I was a student in Singapore – I got involved a lot in the fashion industry in the creative aspect which led me to set up Diva Models – not only as an agency but involved work closely in event production from Fashion Show to Product Launch,” he shared.

The 48-year-old had a chance to explore behind the seams and runway of the fashion industry. Watching designers in action made him pay special attention to their clothes and his own personal style.

Image courtesy of Chantique

“Through here I worked with the best fashion designers from ASEAN, as well as international brands. It opened my eyes to the depth and wide aspect of the fashion industry,” he added.

Following his backstage and front-row seat experience, Fadzil began to learn the creative process and the basics behind creating an idea from the first sketch to the final garment.

“I did a lot of experimenting, I learned about pattern cutting and also observed every different role in the process of making a garment. I didn’t have any formal training but during my days off I love spending most of my time at the tailors learning what and how they do it,” he said.

“I was also inspired by the amazing ambitious people and creative process that involved in making unforgettable fashion pieces,” he said.

Image courtesy of Chantique

Taking over his mother’s business, Chantique, previously known as “Villa Chantique” was his first step into the industry, which sparked an interest in creating his own designs.

“Chantique started originally by just selling scarves, textiles and modest fashion by my mother who started Villa Chantique,” he shared.

The designer also credits his mother with his success and for providing him with endless encouragement and opportunities.

“One day, my mother said why not take the best of Asia to Dubai. She is also the first person who believed in me to take it to another level,” he said.

Fadzil worked in Dubai in 2004 as a cabin crew for Emirates Airlines.

Image courtesy of Chantique

As he learned more about the fashion industry in Dubai, he realised that the Abayas worn in the UAE were mostly in black and dark colours.

Although Abayas are also worn in parts of the Gulf states, the colour black is mostly worn around Dubai. He added that there is a historical meaning behind the colour and why people in UAE are mostly seen in Black Abayas.

In 2010, the Fadzil took the opportunity to introduce the industry to Brunei’s bold patterns and striking colours. He decided it was time to take a bold and brave step in his career to go global.

Despite not having a formal background in fashion and business, Fadzil saw this as an opportunity for him to introduce Bruneian elements into UAE, he started off by introducing bold colours in contrast with the conservative colours.

Image courtesy of Chantique

In just two years since taking over his mother’s atelier, Fadzil has made waves internationally after introducing the label in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Now based in Dubai, the local designer has participated in international runways, utilising Bruneian elements among other Asian influences in his designs for his Middle Eastern clients.

Fadzil also shared the studio’s experience with the Milan Fashion Week 2018, one of the most famous projects led by the brand.

The local designer was also the winner of the prestigious Modest Fashion award and Best Rising Talent Award by the Islamic Fashion and Design Council in Torino, Italy.

In addition to that, in 2019, Fadzil joined three other Bruneians representing Brunei in the inaugural Republic of Korea ASEAN Fashion Week in Busan, South Korea showcasing the “Chantique X Seni Moda” collection.

Award-winning local designer Fadzil Hadin. Image: Azrina Zin

Although with the growing success of Chantique in the global market, he describes breaking into the fashion industry as very challenging as one will face a lot of fierce competition.

“Although Dubai is a hub for a lot of new designers, it was not easy. In Dubai, I presented my lookbook to a few multi-brand fashion stores and got rejected from the first two, but I guess the third time’s a charm because my ideas and collection were accepted after the third try,” he shared

Building a presence on the world stage

The transition from a homegrown brand into a global hub, allowed Fadzil to start his own ideas for a clothing line and pursue the type of brand he had always envisioned Chantique Brunei to be.

Today, the local designer has put the country on the map, presenting the homegrown fashion brand all over the runways and stores in the Middle-east and even parts of Europe.

Recently, the designer showcased his 80s-inspired collection on the Dubai stage in collaboration with an Italian perfume launch.

However, for the 48-year-old, garnering an international presence also comes with an uphill battle that many fashion labels also face: the growing competition and the pandemic.

Image courtesy of Chantique

He also shared that his biggest struggle as a fashionpreneur was financial issues.

“I used up all my savings to make it work but Alhamdulilah, it all paid off. Luckily I have friends in banking and finance that helped me when I first started. Nowadays, I have different people managing the financial part for me so I can just focus on the creative side,” he said.

The colourful garments hanging in the studio around him are tailor-made for a diverse range of clients, “My consumers are from all walks of life but most importantly they come from different nationalities too,” he shared.

Many of Fadzil’s collections continue to be inspired by the designer’s surroundings. As someone who has traveled around the world, Fadzil picked up most of his inspiration along the way, from music to the people he meets.

Image courtesy of Chantique

While he was always focused on the next creation, the garment the Dubai-based designer is most proud of is his first collection of colourful Abayas.

“The Abaya was made from different pastel colours with different floral embellishments. The design also won me the Best Designer at the Torino Fashion Week which also gave me the opportunity to showcase the winning collection at the Milan Fashion Week,” he shared.

From playing around with floral motifs to ruffles, the brand’s signature style is feminine and romantic with a high dose of timeless elegance.

Behind his creative process, Fadzil also shared that he is constantly experimenting and harmonising different textiles and colours together.

In his latest design, he shared that he uses two to three different textiles and focuses on how the materials respond to the body in terms of movement and flow without compromising its design and elegance.

Image courtesy of Chantique

His biggest design inspiration, he shared would be Valentino, Chanel as well as Indonesian fashion designers Biyan Wanaatmadja and Denny Wirawan, who is both a friend and a mentor he looks up to.

Looking back on the local designer’s journey, the moment that helped the business move forward involved a lot of support from his beloved family and friends, especially his mother.

The local designer also hopes his journey inspires a new generation of designers and creatives to grow their businesses outside of the country.

“It is good to see that youth nowadays are getting more creative and brave to take the risk to venture into entrepreneurship. Young people are more entrepreneurial than ever – but challenges remain,” he shared

“A lot of youth entrepreneurs in Brunei are still small though, the majority are probably still home businesses,” he shared.

Fadzil’s advice for people of any age who are considering establishing a domestic fashion brand in the international market is to always be prepared for challenges ahead and to always be patient.

He said that before you enter the international market, it is important to research the market and to have a positive outlook and a clear vision of the brand.

Image courtesy of Chantique

Moving forward, the future looks bright for the fashion designer. Fadzil has his sights on expanding the local brand’s presence both regionally and internationally.

When asked about future plans for Chantique, Fadzil shared that he is eyeing expanding his collection and also creating a separate design label from Chantique that focuses on couture for bridal and eveningwear.

“I am working on my Ramadan Collection which will be presented at MUFFEST Muslim Fashion Festival 2023 in Jakarta and will hit the stores in Dubai in the same month,” he concluded.


Input your search keywords and press Enter.