Illiza Ho is no stranger in the Malaysian fashion scene. She made her debut as a handbag designer in 2013, and now, she has been recognised as among some of the country’s notable talents.

The 37-year-old, who counts Professor Datuk Dr Jimmy Choo as her mentor, received the Best Accessories Designer Of The Year award at the 2018 Malaysia Fashion Week (MFW) on Sunday night (Nov 25).

“I would say that it’s a totally unexpected thing. I’m just very surprised. There are just no words to describe what I’m feeling right now. I think it’s a great honour,” Taiwanese-born Ho said.

According to her, the learning curve does not end. She explained that being the protege of someone experienced like Choo is a great opportunity and there is so much more to be gained from his wisdom.

Illiza Ho

Illiza Ho presented bags for men at MFW 2018.

“He taught me that being in this trade is very much a way of life. You can’t just think of your designs only. You also need to have a balance and experience fashion from all the different aspects,” Ho stated.

Penang-born Choo is well known for his shoes. Many celebrity customers in his early career, including the late Princess Diana of Wales, helped transform his growing popularity into worldwide fame.

Ho was first introduced to Choo while she was still studying in London. Since then, she has really grown as a designer – evident from her various handbag collections released over the years.

“I actually came up with a range for men this time around. It was really challenging because I had never done it before. But I just wanted to give men more options – bags that are less than ordinary but still functional,” she pointed out.

A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Ho is said to have a vast experience in various disciplines. Apart from handbags, she has tried her hand at designing footwear, timepieces and even wooden toys.

This year’s edition of MFW also celebrated other designers. The Professor Datuk Dr Jimmy Choo Award, for instance, went to Adamaya of Malaysia, as well as Sarenefu (Taiwan) and Sayee (Indonesia).

China’s Tasmiah was recognised as the Most Promising (International) Designer Of The Year, while Best Showcase Of The Year award went to the contingent of designers from the Philippines and Modestyle Designer Of The Year 2018 to Malaysia’s Yans Creation.

Organised by Stylo International, the fashion week is supported by the Ministry Of Consumer Trade And Consumer Affairs, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, Tourism Malaysia, Invest Selangor and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall.