#POTRETRAYA2019 | The Ampang Girls: Meet Ezzati Amira, Adila Long and Natrah Omar

Adila Long is a Malaysian fashion designer based in Kuala Lumpur. She launched her own fashion label in 2012 and is known to giving our traditional textiles, songket and batik a modern twist with exclusive one-off designs.

Ezzati Amira is a Malaysian fashion designer based in Kuala Lumpur. She started her own self-named fashion label in 2013 after breaking into the industry by presenting her first ever fashion collection with Andrew Models.

Natrah Omar is currently working as the Regional Colour Marketing Manager of JOTUN Paint Malaysia. This multi-talented creative of vast experiences has delved into jewellery design through founding The Extra Piece in late 2013.

Where were you born and raised?

A : My name is Adila Long. I am a creative director and fashion designer to my own self-named fashion label. I was born in Selangor but raised in Taman Melawati, Ulu Klang. My family and I have lived at the same area throughout our lives until today.

E : My name is Ezzati Amira. A fashion designer who started my very own label called Ezzati Amira. I was born in the middle of Ipoh, Perak at Klinik Bhajan and raised around the area of Gombak in Kuala Lumpur. My family and I eventually moved to Datuk Keramat and we have been residing at the same place since.

N : My name is Natrah Omar. I am currently working as the Regional Colour Marketing Manager of JOTUN Paint Malaysia. My family and I have been living in Kuala Lumpur throughout my entire life. We used to live in the city centre, nearby Vistana Hotel but am now staying in the same area as these two other girls at Taman Melawati, Ampang. We are basically neighbours!

Where did your family came from? And how was it like growing up in your household?

N : My father is still working as a businessman and my mother used to work at the bank in the middle of Kuala Lumpur. It’s the fast-paced city life but when we were younger, it was very different then. We had no iPhones. Nothing digital. We played with each other outside through games like congkat, batu seremban and baling selipar.

E : We could all definitely relate to that. When I was younger, my mother was just a housewife but both my parents are working together now. There was definitely more physical interaction back in the day. We were indeed quite lucky to be the generation to have lived between the no-internet time to now where everything is virtually connected.

A : I guess through this interview, you can tell that we're of similar age. Both my parents used to work in the bank in the city too. My late father used to be a finance director. My mother is still working as a banker now. Back then, we had no option but to be resourceful and innovative to look for new things to play with. Our parents really just allowed us to go all out and be creative with what we had then.

What strikes your emotional chord every time you think about your family?

A : It reminds me of how I’ve managed to gather the courage to start a business on my own. Since we were young, my thrifty father would constantly give us precautionary advice about our finances — ‘don’t forget to save your money’. It was the same with my mother. She may not be a businesswoman but I have learnt a lot from through all the risk-taking opportunities she took on too. Her entrepreneurial spirit has always been there whenever she attempts to sell batik fabrics from Kelantan and Terengganu to her colleagues in the office. To witness their relentless spirit whenever it comes to the decision-making of the business and finance aspect gets to me everytime.

E : As the first child in the family, I do have to mention that I was that one rebellious child who grew up under quite a strict household. It was probably the same for Adila, Natrah and I because we were experimenting with different things throughout our teenage years. If I had not gone through such a hard time with my family - especially my father - I would have not repented and be as strong as the personI am now. My mother was always the soft-hearted person. She would call me everyday to ask if I'd be home for dinner. It was really a tough love relationship between my father and I.

How do you handle trying to balance a career as a working women and needing to prioritize family at the same time?

N : I tend to travel abroad frequently for work. There will be times where I need to leave family behind for long periods but in the midst of a busy schedule, I always find the time for family. It is not a question, more of a priority of mine.

E : There has not really been a balance for me since I started my own fashion label. My fashion schedule is different because I am more focused on Ready-To-Wear compared to Adila who does more custom garments. RTW is a beast on it’s own because you have to work on it at least a year ahead. So, yes I do feel that there has not been a balance at all between family or friends. It could also be because my team is still small in size. It depends on how intense the schedule is for that month too. Alhamdulillah, my friends and family understands that.

A : As a fashion designer and a mother to two children of 6 months and 6 years old, I understood from the start that having a support system is one of the most important part to this. Without it, I would not be able to travel as frequent for work and I will not be able to run my own fashion label.

What is the one thing you always feel nostalgic about when reminiscing about your past Raya celebrations?

A : The Malam Raya which is known as the eve of Raya before the first Syawal had always been a significant moment. The anticipation gets to me every year. The excitement runs through me every eve of it, leaving me sleepless and by the morning when I wake up. The question that instantly runs through your mind is ‘Dah habis puasa? Can we already makan?'

E : I have always felt incredibly nostalgic about the process of buying, writing and sending out Raya cards to family and friends. There was this thing where you have to count the amount of cards you received at the end of Raya and the numbers used to determine how popular you were.

N : My kampung is in Kuala Lumpur and I missed how much effort we used to put into preparing for Raya. The decorations, the food, the buying of fireworks. The gathering of relatives between my family has become a lot more simple.

Describe what your Raya celebration looks like.

N : It has been about 5 years now where I would have an annual Raya gathering between my family and close friends during the first night of Raya. Something for those celebrating Raya in the city centre. I know that most of us now rather celebrate Raya in Kuala Lumpur instead of going back to their hometown.

E : I would visit Natrah during the first day of Raya, if I am not heading to my cousin’s place. My grandparent’s house in Ipoh has already been sold and most of my relatives have recently moved to Kuala Lumpur. It is not the same anymore, and my grandparents would be the first to complain about the authenticity of the rendang.

A : My grandparents used to stay separately with my parents and I. Since my late-grandfather has passed away, we don't have a kampung to go back to anymore. It’s different in the sense that we no longer feel the anticipation to going back. My grandmother now stays together with my mother and aunts in Kuala Lumpur. But, we do get together for the Hari Raya prayers, sunat prayers and for an annual family photo portrait with everyone. It’s less elaborate as before.     

Do you have a particular song, movie or film that brings back those Raya memories?

A : Any Raya oldies by M. Nasir, Saloma or P. Ramlee are some of my all-time favourites. It’s difficult to decide on just one.

E : The infamous comedy show, Senario always makes me laugh.

N : The Balik Kampung track by Sudirman is it for me. It really gives us the nostalgic feel during Raya.

Ezzati wears the Elia in Burgundy (coming soon).
Adila wears the Mawar in Bronze (coming soon).
Natrah wears the Camelia in Burgundy.

Ezzati wears Petit Moi. (Website | Instagram)
Adila wears Tangsi. (Instagram)
Natrah wears the Sueka Sueka. (Website | Instagram)

Photos by Amani
Styling by Haida Yusof
Set by Aida
Background by Miriam