Parallel to the official Parisian haute couture shows in late January, the Oriental Fashion Show -- featuring about 30 oriental designers -- was held at the revamped Hôtel de Crillon facing the famous Egyptian obelisk at the Place de la Concorde.
The ŒRoute de la Soie et d’al Andalus was created by Hind Joudar in 2004 and organizes the Oriental Fashion Show, which he claims to be the first fashion event dedicated to artistic oriental creation. Its aim is to make known designers with oriental inspiration and display the wealth and diversity of clothing and cultural heritage of the East.
This year, the designers include Hany El Behary, Adiba Almahboub, Lamia Lakhsassi, Mnouba By Rym Menari, Yes Couture and Indonesia’s Ika Butoni.
Mardiana Ika, or Ika Butoni, her professional name, a renowned Indonesian designer based in Hong Kong, decided almost in the last minute to participate in the three-day event with her first haute couture show. Producing ready-to-wear luxury, she has starred in Hong Kong, Bali, New York and other international venues.
Ika has always wanted to show her creations in Paris and thought that this alternative venue would be suitable. She could not join the official haute couture shows, because she does not have a boutique or studio in Paris, one of the requirements for appearing on the official calendar.
Mbak Ika, as she is known to fellow Indonesians, produces much of her jewelry and artisanal details of her work in Bali, where she has long maintained a house and workshops, despite manufacturing in Hong Kong. Ika was the driving force behind Bali Fashion Week, which promoted young Indonesian designers, among others, and is held once a year on the island of the gods.
True to her principles, the dynamic lady gathered all her creative energy to make the sensual, orient-inspired garments shown in Paris within a very short period of time. The details were impressive, and the range covered sophisticated day wear, cocktail dresses and some ballroom dresses in myriad tones and fabrics.
Inspiration included Muslim-style outfits, black and blue figure-hugging cocktail dresses with much detail and her famous macrame necklaces, trouser outfits and many garments in one of her favorite colors, a deep blue. More than 30 dresses were displayed on the mainly European young models.
After the show, Mbak Ika revealed that she was shocked at the apparent disorder behind the shows and press conferences. The event’s official photographers and video-makers were also not experienced enough, for her taste. She felt that her efforts had not been truly showcased at the joint press conference, especially as she was the first Indonesian to participate in the Oriental Fashion Show, which exists since 2004.
As a true professional, she and her small team of two that flew in from Hong Kong on Jan. 23 had been expecting a large dressing room with enough space and time to prepare the models for her show under the label Ika Butoni. Unfortunately, space and time were lacking. She also rued the lack of real buyers at the show. Ika did not forget that the main purpose was not only to display creations in public but also to reach out to commercial buyers, either professional or private.
Despite these obstacles, Ika put on a brilliant show on Jan. 25, contrasting with most of the less experienced designers featured at the event, some of whom only sent out bags or just ten creations.
Ika’s show received much applause and appreciation from the audience. Ika also employed photographers to take outdoor shots of her creations with a Parisian background. She was happy that the Indonesian section of Deutsche Welle came to Paris to witness the show and make a video.
True to her principles, she did not regret the experience, but resolved to rethink presenting her haute couture fashion in Europe. Afterward, at Saturday lunch at the Indonesian restaurant Djakarta-Bali near Les Halles, she explained this to French fashion expert Christine Blanc, after presenting her niece, whom she is grooming as her successor.
Here, she detailed her observations and her plans for the future, as she noted that fashion was indeed changing in the way it was being presented and manufactured worldwide. So much was being repeated that the novelty of each season was drowned in trends being copied rapidly and very cheaply by big firms with huge marketing budgets.
Mbak Ika is already looking ahead to further endeavors. (kes)
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