Exquisite designs of Haryono Setiadi and Felicia Budi graced the final runway show of Jakarta Fashion Week 2016 on Friday. (Photo courtesy of Jakarta Fashion Week)

Indonesia's Young Fashion 'Knights' Steal the Show at JFW


NOVEMBER 02, 2015

Jakarta. Jakarta Fashion Week 2016 wrapped up on Friday night with one of the most awaited shows of the celebration: Dewi Fashion Knights.

As customary each year, a fashion panel made of editors from Dewi magazine, fashion retailers and major influencers, selected five Indonesian designers to present their special collections for the big night.

“[The fashion panel] ensures that a regeneration will continue in the country's fashion industry and that new talents will be discovered and duly appreciated," said Leila Safira, chief community officer and editor-in-chief of Dewi magazine.

This year's selection featured young designers from Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya and Sydney. They were: Felicia Budi, Haryono Setiadi, Lulu Lutfi Labibi, Peggy Hartanto and Rinaldy A. Yunardi.

"The fashion panel has discussed long and hard to come up with these five names," Leila said. "They're mainly chosen for their fresh ideas and innovations in their creations."

Themed “Eyes to the Future,” JFW 2016's closing show focused on a currently hot issue in the fashion industry: sustainability.

"Sustainable fashion is a new topic in Indonesia," Leila said.

"Indonesia's fashion industry is not yet as mature as its counterparts in the West," she continued. "As far as I know, [the fashion industry] has not had any major negative impact on the [local] environment and communities.

"And that's precisely why we should address this issue, to encourage designers in this country to pay more attention to the production [process] and materials used in their items, as well as the impact they may have on the environment."

Transforming traditional materials

For Dewi Fashion Kinights, Felicia showcased her "collector's pieces" in a line themed “Tanah Air” (“Homeland”).

"All the items in this collection are made of hand-spun and handwoven organic cotton materials from Flores [East Nusa Tenggara],” said the 30-year-old designer.

Felicia's collection was exquisite. The coarse, handmade material, left in its raw natural color, was made into post-apocalyptic-style dresses, jackets, capes and pants. Ripped details and intricate braiding of the material's unfinished fringes adorned each of her items.

Felicia set up her exclusive ready-to-wear brand fbudi in 2010. Today, the brand is available through bobobobo.com and prettymuch.com.au.

"I will return some of the proceeds from the sales of this collection to the community of weavers in Sikka [Flores], where local officials are planning to build a school for weaving,” Felicia said. 

In contrast, Haryono's collection was rather quiet and demure, yet no less beautiful.

Themed “Serenity,” Haryono's evening dresses are made of silk that was handwoven by traditional weavers in Tenganan, a village located in eastern Bali.

"It's been my commitment to showcase rare [traditional] materials from Indonesia and transform them into something modern," said the Sydney-based designer.

Haryono's sleek, streamlined designs highlighted the beauty of the materials and precise workmanship of his items. As seen in the fashion show, his evening dresses draped beautifully on the models, giving them an effortlessly sexy aura.

The Jakarta-born designer started his eponymous label in Sydney after his debut at the Australian Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week in 2012.

Haryono's elegant dresses have been spotted on Australian model Jennifer Hawkins, New Zealand's singer Kimbra and American film director Sofia Coppola.

"It's really difficult to survive in the international fashion business," Haryono said. "I really have to focus and work hard."

International appreciation 

Peggy's collection, themed “Fin,” was inspired by sea pollution.

"There's a huge problem brewing beneath the surface of the world's oceans," said the 27-year-old designer. "Debris, like plastic and glass, is ruining the marine ecosystem and threatening its wildlife."

Peggy's dresses, made of shimmery translucent materials such as silk organza, crepe and metallic linen, turned many heads at the fashion week's finale.

Their simple silhouettes were adorned with sheer illusion panels, origami-like pleating and layering, which highlighted the materials' unfinished details. Loose fringes on the dresses' hemlines fluttered beautifully as the models sashayed on the catwalk.

"Through my collection, I want to encourage people to be more aware of our natural environment and stop polluting it," said the Surabaya-based designer.

Peggy graduated from the Raffles College of Design and Commerce in Sydney in 2009. She then worked for the prestigious women's label Collette Dinnigan. In 2011, she won an alumni prize at Raffles and was awarded with a showcase at the Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in the same year.

In 2012, Peggy returned home to Indonesia and started her eponymous label in her hometown of Surabaya.

"Peggy Hartanto and Haryono Setiadi are fine examples of Indonesia's young generation who have made a debut for themselves abroad and gained international appreciation,"  Leila said. "Their success made us realize that we have to introduce them [to Indonesia] at JFW."

But it was Yogyakarta-based designer Lulu  who stole the show that evening.

Themed “Jantung Hati” (“Sweetheart”), Lulu's collection is made of women's ready-to-wear pieces made of lurik and kain kembang batu, traditional handwoven fabrics from his hometown.

"Kain kembang batu is a fabric that was often used by our grandfathers decades ago," said the Indonesia Institute of Arts (ISI) alumnus of the batik, which originated from Yogyakarta and features a unique pattern of flowers with clover-like petals. 

In the old days, the fabric was made into formal long-sleeved shirts for men, known as “surjan,” which were work during traditional ceremonies in the royal courts of Yogyakarta.

Lulu paired this fabric with the stripe-patterned lurik and made them into cute women's tops, outerwear, dresses and culottes.

The combination of colors and patterns in Lulu's collection was enchanting. When the beautiful collection was presented with the soft, haunting tunes of Yogyakarta-based artist Frau, the effect was dramatic.

The show culminated with a collection by renowned jewelry designer Rinaldy A. Yunardi, themed “The Lady Warrior.”

"My work brings me close to women," said the jewelry designer. "I listen to their stories each day. And I do believe the toughest warriors in life are women."

The occasion marked the first time Jakarta Fashion Week organizers featured the works of a jewelry designer

Rinaldy's special collection for Dewi Fashion Knights are more works of art than wearable jewelry pieces. For the show, he presented elaborate armors and helmets made of laser-cut metal and recycled paper.

"Paper is soft and fragile, while metals are tough," said the self-taught jewelry designer. "It's a contrast, as women are."

Recycled paper was rolled and spun around intricate metal-wire frames and molded into armors and helmets of otherworldly designs. Flickering LED lights embellished the helmets' visors, impressing the audience with the high level of creativity and innovation.

Viewers broke into a thunderous applause at the end of the show.

"The key for this industry to progress and indeed become a force of good is to innovate," Svida Alisjahbana, chairwoman of JFW 2016, said in her closing speech.

Although JFW officially closed on Friday night, the fashion festivities were far from over.

Throughout the weekend, JFW presented its first-ever Jakarta Fashion Weekend Marketplace (JFWM) at The Space, an open field just outside Senayan City mall in South Jakarta.

More than 140 fashion brands by small-to-medium enterprises showcased their innovative products with attractive prices.