Designer Dian Pelangi, center, collaborates with London College of Fashion graduates Nelly Rose and Odette Steele for her new collection in JFW 2016 (last year). (Photo courtesy of Jakarta Fashion Week)

Dian Pelangi Goes Multicultural in Collaboration with London College of Fashion Graduates


OCTOBER 30, 2015

Jakarta. Befitting the designs shown at her Jakarta Fashion Week presentation last Monday night, it has been a busy and colorful year for Dian Pelangi.

The 24-year-old designer, whose namesake Muslim fashion label is gaining major popularity in Indonesia and abroad, stayed in the United Kingdom for two months back in February to participate in the “Designers in Residence” program by the London College of Fashion and the British Council.

Fast-forward several months, Dian also found herself inducted into the list of 500 most influential people in the global fashion world by the website Business of Fashion, a respected voice in the industry.

It was in the prestigious fashion school that Dian met Odette Steele and Nelly Rose, both textile design majors who recently graduated. At the end of her residency — in which topics revolving around modest fashion were introduced to the students — Dian held a fashion design competition won by the two girls.

Their prize? A two-month internship in the city of Pekalongan in Central Java, where her label’s headquarters is situated.

Unbeknownst to Odette and Nelly, their internship grew into something with a higher stake — a collaboration with Dian bearing their names.

“This is the first time my label collaborated with two other people,” explained Dian before their show. “We decided to show the collection at Jakarta Fashion Week, so we would be driven to make it more seriously.”

Titled “Co Identity,” the collection turned out to be a multicultural hodgepodge that fused the unique heritage of each designer.

There were, of course, many elements that reflected Dian’s penchant for Indonesian textile techniques like batik and tie-dye. Meanwhile, Nelly infused the modest wear collection with vibrant colors and riotous prints — such as graffiti scribbles of Dian’s name — that represent London’s street fashion sensibility. Odette, who was born in Zambia, took inspiration from her African heritage and lent accents such as beadings and embroideries.

During their internship in Pekalongan, Odette and Nelly worked in Dian’s factory and learned to make traditional Indonesian textiles from scratch.

“As new graduates, we have experienced the full fashion journey, from making fabrics to handling production to choosing shoes and makeup for the catwalk,” said Odette. “It gave us an excellent insight in creating a whole fashion collection.”

Overall, the collaboration was still very much embedded inside Dian Pelangi’s visual universe, with its loose-fitting modest separates — long-sleeved tunics, wide-legged pants, maxi-dresses — and multi-layered styling that involved turbans. Textile prints were kept abstract and doused in a dizzying array of colors.

“Apparently, the three of us share the same personality — we all love bold colors,” said Dian. “We didn’t encounter any difficulty in combining our characters [during the design process]. Instead, we had to neutralize this explosion with shades of black in some looks.”

It was still unknown whether this particular collection will be produced and marketed at Dian’s stores. Nevertheless, it stood for an applaudable exchange of cultures and drove further understanding about the position of Muslim or modest fashion in the industry.

“Our collection is about bringing people across the globe together and about interconnectivity in fashion,” said Nelly. “We want every woman to identify with our collection — Muslims or not.”