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Pret-a-couture and beyond with Rusly Tjohnardi

Sondang Sirait
Sondang Sirait

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sun, August 19, 2018 | 12:19 pm
Pret-a-couture and beyond with Rusly Tjohnardi

Rough sketches for finished pieces from Rusly Tjohnardi (Courtesy of Rusly Tjohnardi/File)

In ateliers and studios throughout the archipelago, a host of talents have been conceptualizing works that have earned Indonesia a place on the larger stage of global fashion. J+ by The Jakarta Post wanted to tell these stories by interviewing some designers and by showcasing their collections, which offer contemporary and modern takes on some traditional Indonesian ideas, motifs and techniques. 

Our previous articles focused on fashion designer Monique Soeriaatmadja and master weaver Masulin Lim. Our next subject is couture designer Rusly Tjohnardi.

Armed with a mission to create the perfect dress for every woman, Rusly Tjohnardi has distinguished himself by creating sought-after high fashion pieces, made using the finest fabrics and innovative techniques. In the meantime, he’s also crafted a stellar reputation for his namesake brand, Rusly Tjohnardi Atelier. That’s not all he does. Back in 2000, Rusly impressed top designers in Paris with his accessory creations that were inspired by Italian artist Sandro Botticelli’s painting Birth of Venus. He’s been rocking the international fashion scene ever since. Late last year, Rusly presented his latest prêt-à-couture collection at Jeweluxe Singapore 2017, the world’s first curated e-commerce marketplace for sophisticated jewellery, fashion and art.

How did you get into the field?

Driven by passion. I’ve had the privilege of being born into a family that appreciates art. My father paints very well and my mother used to work and provide training in the areas of tailoring, sewing, craft making and hairdressing. Neither of them pursued their passion, but I, on the other hand, decided to turn my dreams into reality. It all came naturally ever since I was in high school.

Who are your design icons and why?

I’ve always been in love with anything classic and elegant. I think beauty icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Nicole Kidman, Jackie O, Charlize Theron and Zoey Saldana are classic and timeless. They represent beauty at any age and in any era, and are the embodiment of love and strength, as they are the best in what they do. I’m in love with Oprah too.

Pieces from Rusly Tjohnardi’s Classicalisto Gold collection Pieces from Rusly Tjohnardi’s Classicalisto Gold collection (Courtesy of Rusly Tjohnardi/File)

What inspires you?

I would say nature, my surroundings and music create my palette and mood boards. I’m a very visual person. I transform my mood into the things I do, in terms of creating a collection.

What makes a good designer?

I think a good designer should also be a good listener, a good person who aims to make people happy. If your design is not wearable, it will only remain a concept.

Read also: Madonna wears accessories made by Indonesian designer at Met Gala 2018

Tell us about your latest collection.

I’m currently into gold, silver and rose gold colors, so most of my lines, at least for the year ahead, will be inspired by and feature a lot of these moods, as well as use the latest fabrics and patterns that the industry has to offer.

What’s your long-term plan?

To thrive and be successful on the international stage. I also want to be able to train and provide more opportunities and jobs for people, as well as introduce the mind-set that production of high fashion is more than just about sewing and that the people involved in it are artisans, not manual laborers. We should honor and value that, and they should feel proud and honored to do what they do.

Rusly Tjohnardi Rusly Tjohnardi (Courtesy of Rusly Tjohnardi/File)

What are your expansion plans for accessories?

Accessories are a small interest of mine that I happen to be good at. My passion is in the totality of dressing up amazing personalities around the world. One step at a time. I enjoy the process. It’s my life. To have my big dream come true is really just a bonus. Doing what I love every day is really a blessing. I’m always excited.

What are some current fashion trends that are emerging internationally?

People are inspired by nature more and more in terms of design, concept and color. They relate to and echo the concept of nature.

How are local tastes developing?

Local tastes are improving rapidly toward something simple, elegant and modern without leaving one’s cultural identity. People are looking for function, efficiency and economy, or, for some niche markets, quality, identity and personality.

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