Jakarta. New years often signify a new hope for the future. For the coming Chinese Year of the Dog, Indonesian designer Sebastian Gunawan and his wife Cristina Panarese have wrapped up themes of hope and expectation in a special fashion collection called "Blissful Blossom."
The collection, showed in the grand ballroom of Ritz Carlton Jakarta at Pacific Place last Monday, Feb. 5, was inspired by liang liu (weeping willow) trees seen by the designer and his wife during a recent trip to China.
"Liang liu represents the traditional Chinese philosophy of growth, balance and harmony," Sebastian said. "We believe this positive philosophy will be useful in the Year of the Dog."
The Ritz Carlton ballroom was decorated to resemble a traditional Chinese garden with lush weeping willow trees in every corner for the fashion show.
The runway was designed to look like a creek, surrounded by real pebbles.
A model wearing a cream cheongsam dress opened the show. A sequined azure-blue robe, adorned with ornate floral embroideries along the hemlines, complemented her regal look.
"I was inspired by the traditional attires of Chinese empresses for this look," the designer said.
Indonesian supermodel Paula Verhoeven looked resplendent in an A-line cheongsam robe, also adorned with complex embroideries made of silk ribbons.
Another stunning cheongsam on the catwalk was worn by top model Drina Ciputra. The mid-length dress was fully sequined and also adorned with shiny embroideries at the front.
"It takes special skills and a lot of hours to embroider on sequined fabrics, but I think the result is stunning," Sebastian said.
The designer then took opulence to a new level in his collection of evening dresses.
"For the first time ever, I'm doing sequin-on-sequin and pearl-on-sequin embellishments on my dresses," Sebastian said.
A fully sequined black evening gown was especially glamorous, its skirt embellished with detailed embroideries of Koi fishes dancing in a pond.
Intricate golden sequins, embroidered on a background of black sequins, seemed to animate the movements of the fishes in the water.
Traditional costumes of Chinese warriors inspired other items in the collection.
Top model Kelly Tandiono looked sassy in an indigo jumpsuit whose relaxed silhouette is faintly reminiscent of Shaolin monks' outfit. The spartan look is softened by more embroideries at the lapels and sash.
"Today's modern women need good-looking outfits with lots of room to move," Sebastian said.
The show's encore was a pearly white wedding dress worn by top model Ilmira Usmanova which featured an oversized Chinese double-happiness symbol at the front of the dress.
The full-house crowd broke into a rapturous applause once Ilmira disappeared back stage.
"I've always loved Seba's dresses," Indonesian pop singer Rossa said in an interview after the show. "They're very beautiful, but this collection is exceptionally dazzling. I love the sparkles and intricate handmade details."
According to Sebastian, the glamorous dresses are also his way to bring back a little optimism to the Indonesian fashion market.
"Last year people were worried by the economy," Sebastian said. "This year, politics seem to be taking center stage. But whatever happens, we have to stay optimistic. This should be a year of balance and harmony."