Top designers weigh in on where the country’s haute couture trend is headed, now that the industry is reawakening.
Indonesia’s high-end fashion industry has had to lay low for the last two years, and with almost zero public events taking place in the country, fashionistas had few opportunities to go out and flaunt their wardrobe, or to buy new outfits.
“The pandemic hit us in the secondary sector very hard,” renowned couture designer Sebastian “Seba” Gunawan told The Jakarta Post during a phone interview on Aug. 19. “All fashion designers and brands across the globe also felt the impact.”
Thankfully, the situation seems to have been brought under control after the recent, milder fourth wave. Jakarta is alive with parties, large weddings, concerts and other events that encourage attendees to dress up again.
But at least one question remains: What to wear? Is an evening outfit from early 2020 still trendy enough, or have styles changed over more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic?
A number of the country’s leading designers have been presenting their latest collections to answer that question, providing an insight into what will soon be trending in the high-end fashion scene.
“These days, we feel as if we’re waking from a long, deep sleep,” designer Didi Budiardjo said before presenting his 2022 collection on July 20 at Hotel Mulia Senayan in Central Jakarta.
“The most important thing is that we feel refreshed and [have] new inspiration for something better in the future,” he added.
For his latest collection themed Bedtime Stories, Didi has introduced a unique combination of the Victorian and chinoiserie styles as “the result of my many reveries and reflections during the pandemic”.
The Bedtime Stories collection features evening gowns with high-neck collars and butterfly sleeves of the Victorian era, mini cocktail dresses adorned with frills, and loose pant suits that resemble pajamas. The designer has also infused glam into several pieces through intricate beadwork and diamante appliqués.
Some of these outfits are made of well-preserved deadstock fabrics, or surplus fabrics that have been sitting in the inventory of a fashion house for some time. These include guipure lace, jacquard and velvet that date back “several decades”, according to Didi.
“By using deadstock fabrics, I hope to be able to offset some of the fashion industry’s carbon emissions and respond to the demand for sustainability in the industry,” he said.
Color revival: A model wears a tunic and trouser combination from Didi Budiardjo’s Bedtime Stories 2022 collection at a fashion show on July 20 at Hotel Mulia Senayan in Central Jakarta. (Courtesy of ASA Medier) (Courtesy of ASA Medier/Courtesy of ASA Medier)
Loose, yet structured
Meanwhile, Seba foresees a revival in the local couture circle after the pandemic. “Indonesians love and appreciate Indonesian fashion designers,” he said.
“Unlike [consumers] in neighboring countries, such as Singapore, who seem to prefer international brands, [local consumers] actually recognize our excellent designs and craftsmanship and support us.”
Sebastian Gunawan predicts that loose fitting pajama-like outfits, which were seen almost everywhere during the pandemic, will soon shift to more tailored styles.
“As usual, fashion trends shift slowly,” he said. “Many felt more comfortable in pajama-style clothing during the pandemic, but now they will want something as comfortable, yet more structured.”
He suggested that women would prefer dresses made of lightweight fabrics, such as crêpe, silk, taffeta and tulle. “In high fashion, [this] will be quite a departure from the usual ball gowns made with heavy fabrics.”
As for silhouettes, Seba expected mini dresses, crop tops and cropped jackets to make a comeback, while long dresses remain a favorite for evening occasions.
The Sebastian Gunawan Signature 2022/2023 collection was presented on July 19 at Hotel Mulia Senayan in Central Jakarta.
Called Golden Muse, it highlights long dresses adorned with tiered ruffles, A-line mini dresses and cropped tops with elegant half-moon sleeves. Art nouveau-style beading and embroidery featuring sinuous, intertwined tendrils embellish some of these outfits.
‘Simple is exclusive’
Edward “Edo” Hutabarat presented his Cruise 2023 collection on Aug. 15 at the Skydeck of the Sarinah department store in Central Jakarta.
The senior couture designer worked with batik artisans from Cirebon, West Java, and Pekalongan, Central Java, to create his latest collection, which wowed the audience with its simple elegance.
“Simplicity is exclusivity,” said the 64-year-old, who rued the fact that many Indonesian designers liked to embellish batik with embroidery, sequins and crystals.
“You don’t eat nasi goreng [fried rice] together with nastar,” he said, referring to a delicate ball-shaped cookie filled with pineapple jam. “Likewise, you shouldn’t mix batik with embroidery and sequins and as a result, make them look wagu,” Edo added, using the Javanese word meaning “weird”.
The Cruise 2023 collection features sundresses made of silk, chiffon, organdy and crepe de chine, as well as quilted capes, sarong and pajama-style outfits for men.
According to Edo, all the batik used in the collection is made by hand, both inside and outside. All the outfits are also hand-stitched from top to bottom.
“Like cooking lontong sayur [stewed vegetables with rice cake], you have to make sure that each ingredient used is the best and processed in the right way for getting the best result,” Edo added.
“This way, these dresses will not look out of place in Shanghai, [on] Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive.”
Cross-cultural collab: A model wears a tailored suit from the Iwan Tirta × Kim Seo Ryong Resort Collection 2022/2023, a collaboration between the South Korean designer and luxury batik label Iwan Tirta Private Collection (ITPC). (Courtesy of ASA Medier) (Courtesy of ASA Medier/Courtesy of ASA Medier)
For its exclusive Resort Collection 2022/2023, luxury batik house Iwan Tirta Private Collection (ITPC) has collaborated with high-profile menswear designer Kim Seo Ryong of South Korea, where batik has penetrated Seoul’s couture scene.
Kim is known for dressing members of K-pop sensation BTS as well as world-famous South Korean actors, such as Lee Min-ho and Kim Soo-hyun.
“Batik is the rich heritage of local wisdom connecting generations and cultures,” ITPC chief executive Widiyana Sudirman told a virtual press conference on Aug. 12. “And how deeply honored we are when Iwan Tirta batiks are designed by none other than South Koreans’ beloved menswear designer, Mr. Kim Seo Ryong.”
Widiyana added that the Iwan Tirta × Kim Seo Ryong Resort Collection “will be the new milestone of batik’s prestigious recognition in the global fashion world”.
As Kim was a painter before becoming a fashion designer, he respects hand-drawn batik, and took the time to understand the patterns before designing the fabrics.
“I cut [the batik fabrics] into men’s clothing by following the direction of how batik patterns should be applied on clothes. That’s the most important thing,” Kim said during the press conference through an interpreter.
The South Korean designer’s respect for the Indonesian textile shows in the elegantly structured long coats, shirts, pants and jackets in the collection. Using bold floral and leaf patterns, Kim’s designs marry sophisticated tailoring and traditional motifs to produce a tasteful, modern collection.
The collection is now available at Kim’s boutique in Gangnam district, Seoul.
“The new vision of batik [is] to be no longer limited in, for and within Indonesia, but to be highly relevant to world fashion,” Widiyana said.