Meet the region's leading fashion designers Chinese designer Lee Khoon Hooi was born and raised in Malaysia. Inspired by his tailor grandmother, he studied fashion design at the Malaysian Institute of Art. After graduating in 1993, he worked as an assistant designer for a manufacturing company. Six years later, he set up his own ready-to-wear label, Khoon Hooi. This was followed by a line called Inspire in 2004. His designs are feminine and fresh, and feature layers of soft fabrics such as silk and chiffon. Have you always wanted to be a designer? Yes, ever since I was young. My grandmother didn't teach me the trade, but she inspired me to become a designer. How did you set up the company? After several years in the trade, I decided to set up on my own. Initially, it was slow, but with exposure and recognition from the press, my labels grew. What's the structure? I have a production team, a marketing and merchandising department and retail staff. It's a small operation, with 15 people. I plan to expand my team in the near future, but I oversee everything from start to finish. How many lines are there? The ready-to-wear label features cocktail and party wear. Inspire targets ladies aged 16 to 35. It features short skirts, mini tees and funky dresses in a range of fabrics. What's the design philosophy? My clothes empower women, but maintain the wearer's femininity. They have simple silhouettes due to the soft flowing fabrics and accentuate the woman's body. Who are your customers? Celebrities and socialites, and any woman looking for some- thing different. What inspires you? Anything that's beautiful. What does your current collection look like? It evokes romance with softness and sensuality. The collection features fluid silhouettes with plenty of satin, silk, chiffon and lace. What makes your business successful? Strong support from family, friends and loyal customers. What else do you design? I usually design the shoes and some jewellery to complement the collection. At the moment, I'm not designing men's clothes. I want to establish the women's labels on an inter-national level before I develop a men's line. Where are your collections available? Only in Malaysia. I have two boutiques in Kuala Lumpur: one in Avenue K Shopping Centre and the other in Sungei Wang Plaza. How does Malaysia influence you? I've always been influenced by different cultures because Malaysia has a multinational community. I bear this in mind when I'm designing and am aware of the fact that women want to look good while maintaining their own identity. What plans do you have? I want to venture into Europe and the US. What's your motto? Simplicity is the key.