Mention Tengku Syahmi (full name Tengku Mohamed Syahmi Tengku Mahmood) to Malaysia’s young and fabulous social circle, and chances are you will immediately have an attentive audience.
The fashion designer prides himself on creating pieces with simple aesthetics and a romantic flair, something that the nation’s stylish crowd can resonate with.
It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, that he waxes lyrical about one of the world’s fashion capitals when speaking about his holidays around the globe.
“The last time I was in Paris was 2011, and it was for work. We had participated in Tranoi, a trade show in Paris at the Louvre. I was there for seven days, and working for six days. Even though it was at the Louvre, I didn’t even have time to go and check out the museum.
“I spent my day off exploring the city with my colleagues – and it was lovely getting lost in the city. I would love to have more time to explore Paris,” the Kuala Lumpur-born designer shares via e-mail.
Moving on, Tengku Syahmi describes San Francisco as a very charming city.
“It has its concrete jungle, it’s by the sea and it has its hippie town, too!” he gushes.
But just as one begins to think that Tengku Syahmi’s wanderlust only takes him to temperate terrains, he surprises by divulging his preferred vacation spots in the Asean region.
“Some of my favourite Asean destinations are Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand; Bandung, Jakarta and Bali in Indonesia; Brunei and Singapore,” he says.
What makes those places special in his books?
“Asean countries are rich in culture and history,” he responds. “Of course, the amazing food is another drawcard.”
Thailand and Indonesia are the two countries he would go to in a heartbeat to indulge in some culinary delights. “I just love Som Tam and Nasi Padang,” he says.
Som Tam is a green papaya salad that is easily found and commonly eaten in Thailand. “I love Bangkok, and you can’t go wrong with Thai food! It’s definitely one of the best cities in South-East Asia to go for a holiday as you can get great food, culture, shopping and nightlife,” he offers.
Closer to home, Tengku Syahmi counts Penang, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu as his favourite Malaysian cities. Of course, probably nothing beats the comfort of his hometown of KL.
Meanwhile, his other favourite food, Nasi Padang, consists of steamed rice served with a selection of dishes originating from Padang city, the capital of West Sumatra, Indonesia.
For his friends who come to KL for a visit, he has designed an itinerary for them.
“Sightseeing would cover the Golden Triangle, Petronas Twin Towers, KL Tower, Brickfields and Chinatown in Petaling Street. For food, definitely Kampung Baru for some local and Malay-Thai cuisine,” Tengku Syahmi shares.
He adds that travellers should head to Petaling Street for some good wantan noodles, Chinese beef noodles and claypot Loh Shee Fun.
“I like to eat my way through a destination and am always checking out what the city has to offer,” he quips.
Back to the subject of fashion, Tengku Syahmi says he is excited by the developments in the region.
“I am seeing a lot of Asian fashion designers doing their thing in the international market, and I couldn’t be more proud and happy for their success, and I hope one day to be there with them,” he says.
Tengku Syahmi adds that as the region progresses, it’s important to retain its unique cultural flavours.
“I hope that, no matter how modern and developed we become, we don’t forget our roots, history and culture.”