The hat award winners at last year’s Mad Hatters Party along with Ong (right). Photo: Edric Ong

KUCHING: The 4th Annual Mad Hatters Party to be held by Society Atelier Sarawak next Saturday (Oct 24) is expected to be a vibrant event celebrating Sarawak’s diverse culture and rich heritage of hats.

Society Atelier Sarawak (SAS) president Edric Ong said that the various indigenous peoples of Sarawak each had their unique hats — from the hats of the Orang Ulu with their intricate beadwork to the Melanau terendak and the Iban topi tunjang.

“Every ethnicity has their own very distinctive hat,” he said when interviewed recently by New Sarawak Tribune.

As such, he said SAS had the idea to showcase this rich hat culture in the form of a themed party, whereby local designers and guests don their creative hats.

“Our previous parties over the years have been very well attended, but this year we can only admit 250 guests due to the standard operating procedure (SOP) restrictions.”

He said the annual event had certainly gained more popularity and recognition over the years, adding that this year’s event tickets had already sold out.

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we are very encouraged by the great response to our event so far and we hope that everything will go well according to plan and the SOP.”

According to Ong, the 4th Annual Mad Hatters Party, which will be held at Dewan Sri Bunga Rampai here, will be graced by several guests of honour, namely Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri; Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah along with his wife Datin Zuraini Abdul Jabbar; and Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng.

The six featured designers for the Mad Hatters Party this year are Ong himself, Melinda Omar, Anna Sue, Livan Gallery, Arzmy Hargreaves, and Ben Nazry.

“This year, we will also have a posthumous presentation of the designs of the late Abdul Latif, the Melanau designer from Mukah who passed in June.

“Besides the fashion show which will involve about 20 local models, there will also be a crafts bazaar before the event, from 5pm to 7pm.”

One of the highlights of the event will be the presentation of awards for ‘Most Creative Hat’, ‘Most Cultural Hat’, and ‘Most Mad Hat’.

While the event on Oct 24 would require a ticket, he said the continuation of the crafts bazaar the next day from 10am to 5pm at Dewan Sri Bunga Rampai would be open to the public.

Guests in their creative hats at last year’s Mad Hatters Party.

“So the designers will be able to sell some of their creations and accessories. We have the works of artists like Ramsay Ong, Michael Lim, and so on,” he said, adding that all designers were local.

Ong said SAS had been putting Sarawakian designers on the international scene with such events, in addition to taking part in the recent Aspara Fashion Week online.

“Atelier featured 14 designers from Sarawak and we were supported by the Sarawak Arts Council and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.”

He said from this international exposure, many international designers were requesting for the Mad Hatters Party to be live-streamed as well.

“Many people want to see what we are doing as they can see all our very creative designs, especially the hats. So we are looking into that and may hold a live feed if possible.”

When contacted, featured designer Melinda Omar said her designs would be elegant and edgy, aiming to embrace fashion for women of all ages.

“Vibrant patterns and rich fabric are elements that my label, Melor, accentuates. I hope the upcoming Mad Hatters Party will be a great success in showcasing our local talents and their creative designs.”