Jakarta. "Women power is a formidable force. Women's values have a lot to give," then-Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland said at the fourth World Conference for Women in Beijing on Sept. 15, 1995.
It is true that when women unite and focus their strengths to help one another, their power can indeed become unstoppable.
Such energy was seen at Fashion Symphony 2018, a fashion show presented by members of the Indonesian Businesswomen's Association (Iwapi) in the grand ballroom of Sheraton Gandaria City in South Jakarta on Aug. 29.
It was the second fashion show presented by Iwapi's South Jakarta chapter, with first having taken place in April last year.
"We have approximately 150 members," Iwapi South Jakarta chairwoman Julie Sutrisno Laiskodat said at a press conference before the show.
"Most of them are housewives with small and medium enterprises in fashion and accessories businesses. They usually promote their products from one bazaar to another.
"We wanted to present their products in a gala fashion show to boost their confidence and to show that Indonesia has high quality fashion products that can compete with international products."
To qualify for participation in the fashion show, members were screened based on their participation in Iwapi's activities and attendance of the association's meetings.
"Their products should also be uniquely Indonesian and highlight Indonesian craftsmanship," Julie added.
Members of Iwapi South Jakarta were responsible for all elements of the fashion show, including lighting, the sound system, makeup and hairdos of the models.
"That's the importance of being in this organization," said Wulan Tilaar, vice chairwoman of the Martha Tilaar Group, which produces Sariayu cosmetics. "In this organization, women entrepreneurs can grow together and support one another."
The Martha Tilaar Group, which is also a member of Iwapi South Jakarta, did all the makeup and hairdos of the models participating in this event.
"The concept was flawless makeup and simple hairdo, which is in line with today's trends," Wulan said.
Fashion Symphony 2018
The fashion show opened with a parade of handwoven textiles from 22 districts in East Nusa Tenggara, all of which are in a collection belonging to Julie, the wife of Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat, the province's newly elected governor.
Reni Kusumawardhani's fashion label, Mari Berkain, featured four kebaya encim paired with batik sarongs with kawung, or palm-frond motifs.
Kebaya encim is a simple, yet elegant style of the traditional blouse-dress combination, often worn by women of Chinese descent in Java during the colonial era.
"Kebaya encim is a beautiful symbol of acculturation and unity in diversity," Reni said.
China-blue and red floral batik motifs married well on the kebayas, creating a vintage, yet fresh and youthful impression in the collection.
Azuraa Indonesia, a ready-to-wear brand by Yurita Puji and Nunu Datau, presented a collection featuring sulam karawo, a special style of hand embroidery from Gorontalo.
The blouses and dresses they presented in the fashion show had simple, structured silhouettes. Discreetly placed embroideries, in matching colors, were the highlight of each item in the collection.
House of Pipie, a fashion label by Ulupi Hastuti, presented a beautiful tie-dye collection in the show.
"The dresses are all made of silk, processed with various tie-dye techniques, such as jumputan [originally from Palembang, South Sumatra] and sasirangan [originally from South Kalimantan]," Ulupi said.
The bold colors of the dresses and their oversized, exotic patterns made them stand out at the fashion show.
Also on display were beautiful pearl jewelry by D.R.U Jewelry, handwoven and batik handbags by Sageeta Bags and leather handbags by Sylvo Python Leather.
"Praise God, these handmade products by Indonesian women are truly amazing! Each is creative. Each highlights Indonesia's cultural riches," Dewi Motik Pramono, co-founder and member of Iwapi's honorary council, said after the show.
Dewi and her older sister Kemala Motik – both successful entrepreneurs – founded Iwapi in 1975.
"The idea was for women to unite and work together to optimize Indonesia's economy," Dewi said.
Today, the organization has 260 branches in 32 provinces and it currently counts about 30,000 female entrepreneurs as members. About 85 percent of them own small-to-medium enterprises, 13 percent have medium enterprises and 2 percent have large enterprises.
"The fashion show is a great marketing strategy for our members," Iwapi national chairwoman Nita Yudi said. "We hope [the show] will motivate our members to be even more creative and productive."
Iwapi South Jakarta plans to make the fashion show an annual event.
The South Jakarta chapter also has a gallery, named Bilang.Bilang, on the first floor of Gandaria City shopping mall that features the products of its members.
Members take turns to display their products in the gallery for six months at a time.
"Every woman that has a business can join Iwapi," Nita said. "And their business can be anything, from selling crackers to bulldozers. Whatever it is, they will benefit from our regular business coaching and workshops. We also have exhibition programs in Indonesia and abroad, featuring our members' products."
"In Iwapi, we all can learn and grow together," Nita said.