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ASEAN fashion designers tout culture, diversity in designs

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak
Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Thu, March 2, 2017 | 09:23 am
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From colorful resort wear to simple Muslim wedding dresses, the use of traditional woven fabric and local embroidery art is celebrated as fashion designers join the ASEAN Fashion Designers Showcase (AFDS) to show off the rich diversity of style in the region.

At its first trunk show in Jakarta recently, AFDS introduced the latest works from its eight members, namely Lenny Agustin and Hannie Hananto from Indonesia, Hayden Ng and Doris Lee from Singapore, Melvin Shah from Malaysia, Yuki Unawan Tangkaravakoon and Sirus Tantiyapong from Thailand and Nguyen Quoc Binh from Vietnam.

“AFDS offers direct access to fashion lovers of the select ready-to-wear and haute couture as well as street fashion representing Asia,” said Lenny, a co-founder of AFDS and the project director of the Jakarta showcase. The event in Gran Melia Hotel, South Jakarta, on Feb. 24 was the fourth of its kind after being hosted in Singapore last April, Vientiane, Laos, in September and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in November.

Singapore will host the next trunk show in May, Cambodia in June, Laos in September and Thailand in December.

For the Jakarta trunk show, each of the designers presented their capsule collections during the one-hour showcase held in the hotel lobby.

Hannie opened the event with six simple, but elegant Muslim wedding gowns. In loose silhouettes that came in varied materials, such as tulle, silk and brocade, the designer said that the ready-to-wear gowns were an affordable choice for the once-ina-lifetime occasion.

Next was Sirus, the man behind YOD YOKO label, with his “Woman with a Flower” resort wear collection. The collection was characterized by the hand-painted images of women and flowers that come either in bright primary colors or monochromatic black and white with red hues.

Nguyen then presented “the Beauty of Bamboo” from his AE line, a collection of cocktail and evening dresses made of satin and silk and embellished with prints and embroidery of bamboo bushes.

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While Singaporean designer Hayden brought a wide range of his designs, fit for any occasion, Thai designer Yuki introduced her YUNA label. Her evening wear collection was adorned with handmade embroidery by female artisans from the conflictstricken region in southern Thailand.

Lenny closed the show with her “Sugar Skull of Frieda Kahlo” collection in which she combined the woven fabric of Kalimantan with batik from East Java for a modern style based off of traditional looks.

The collections were available for sale at the designers’ pop store next to the stage. Close to the stage, there were other booths offering accessories, such as jewelry by Elisabeth Wahyu, mix-and-match bags by Bopa and leather bags and shoes by Covet, to name a few.

The idea to establish AFDS came from Hayden Ng in August 2015 as a tool to raise attention and appreciation for the distinctive style of different regions in Asia, while also promoting cultural exchange through collaborative events.

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Currently, AFDS has 14 members in total. In addition to the eight members involved in the Jakarta showcase, there are also Singaporean Allan Chai, Malaysian Orson Liyu, Cambodian Natacha Van, Vietnamese Pham Dham Anh Thu and Laotians Viengkhan Nanthavongdouangsy and Bandid Latsavong.

Hannie said that the members communicate via WhatsApp.

“We live far from each other, and it’s nearly impossible to meet up frequently. Even for today’s trunk show, we coordinated through the chat group,” Hannie explained.

According to Lenny, fashion school students were also involved in the event.

“Students from Semarang [Central Java], Yogyakarta and Jakarta, some from vocational schools, volunteer in the event. They have to start taking part in fashion events to understand more about the industry,” she said.

“We like to give chances for young designers and students to realize their dreams in the fashion world,” added Ng at a press conference prior to the show.

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