By Maryam Amelie
Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim
“When He breathes ruh onto me, I became me.”
As I was spring cleaning my house for yet another hijrah of my life, I came across my university’s year book. The yearbook was from the graduating students of Social Work – year 1993-1994.
On my page, I wrote, “I never quite know what I wanted to be. Not even now. One thing for sure, I have the passion for travelling and meeting all kinds of people of all races, creed and colour. If only people took the time to appreciate the beauty of nature and the beauty of being a part of the human race, there would not be so much atrocities around the world. One day, I hope to hear someone saying that she is neither a Malay nor a Singaporean but that she belongs to the human race. Only then, I believe, would there be peace and love in the world and less hatred for one another.”
Fast forward to 2017, I have not become a Social Worker but my deep-seated beliefs and values haven’t change.
Maryam Amelie – my alter ego – embodies that when I birthed the novella, The Truth Seekers @ Haji Lane in 2015. And I still embody that spirit of love and peace for humankind in my shawl designs under the label of Maryam Amelie.
Two decades after graduating, I still have not quite figure out what I wanted to do in my life even as I moved forward to develop a business. But that deep-seated beliefs and values have guided me – and these have become my message and my identity.
Maryam Amelie: Faith and Hope for Humankind
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Maryam Amelie: Timeless and Classic with International Appeal
I wanted my first collection to be something about The Truth Seekers @ Haji Lane – watercolour sketches of Kampong Gelam, Masjid Sultan, and Haji Lane. Yes – still a very Singaporean identity, but if you have read the book, you would know that these images represent deeper messages than just mere places and spaces. But that design didn’t quite meet the cut, didn’t quite meet my expectations.
As I breathe deep, wondering if I have yet diverted on my path, taking another long arduous journey that may lead me to nowhere, the Vanda Miss Joaquim came as an inspiration and it represents a place and a space that holds a lot of meaning for me.
Vanda Miss Joaquim is an orchid that is the national flower of Singapore.
The real scarves turned out much more beautiful than the design on paper/ screen, pardon me for my own elevated self-praise! Indeed, I was thankful for the team that I had worked with who helped me materialise the Vanda Collection.
More than just the national flower, I gathered much inspiration from the colours and what each colour represents. The colour was specially curated and selected from several combinations of pantone colours. Purple orchids on gold/amber/mustard/yellow is definitely a colour of royalty, and because of that, I called it Maryam Amelie’s Vanda First Lady.
The idea for Vanda Mrs President came because for the first time, Singapore has nominated a female Muslim candidate for its elected presidency. Whether she, Madam Halimah Yakob wins or not, this nomination in itself deserved to be remembered and carved in history. “She” came in a beautiful royal blue that got the attention of many of our valued customers and it sold out very fast. Alhamdullillah.
Not everyone can be First Lady or Lady President, but we, ladies, have the potential to be the Queen of someone’s heart. Vanda Queen (of my heart) comes in natural beige background, that makes the purple vanda even more striking.
Everyone loves the purple on white. Understated, and yet elegant. Classic with a timeless, international appeal.
What we didn’t expect is that these shawls were truly a hit with our international friends. A well-travelled fellow Singapore author friend bought all 4 Vandas to gift her friends from Malaysia and Maldives, and Alhamdullillah, they love it. Another Japanese friend brought her mom on a visit to Singapore, and her mom bought 3 Vandas before she returned to Japan to gift her daughters-in-law and herself. She also got another piece from another collection that I have yet to launch. Because she had come so far, and she is a beloved friend’s mother, it’s only right to show some of the collections that I have which she loved immediately. And what was icing on the cake, her mom commented that our shawl quality is really good. Coming from a Japanese, whose country has superior quality and technology, and often top-notch in its products and services, I am humbled and truly blessed. Alhamdullillah.
It looks like now I may have to work doubly faster to come up with new designs, and I thank all of you and Ungu Pen from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful support of my books and my shawl designs. Only He can repay all your kindness for this wonderful support. It makes me believe that I am on the right journey – slowly but surely, insha Allah.