'Dara' tells one woman's
story in riveting fashion

(JP/J. Adiguna)

Fashion designer Musa Widyatmodjo believes fashion is like wearable art.

His recent fashion show/dance performance, "Dara Fashion Performing Arts" told the story of a Minang woman who was in love with an ethnic Chinese man.

Just like in real life, they faced the obstacle of cultures and norms in Indonesia when they decided to marry.

Nonetheless, the show had a happy ending: the couple received the blessings of both sets of parents. But it was their wedding that intrigued the crowd.

(JP/J. Adiguna)

The couple celebrated the rich fashion heritage of each of their cultures.

The groom wore a traditional Chinese wedding outfit; the bride wore a traditional West Sumatran outfit, complete with gold-laden head piece.

Both outfits were heavy and intricately patterned.

Minang-style dress had captivated Musa from the beginning of the project due to its complexity.

He said the traditional Chinese style had long influenced Minang fashion.

A number of models and actors performed at the Jakarta Convention Center on April 15. Among the actors were seasoned performers Didi Petet, H.I.M Damsyik and Ninik L. Karim.

(JP/J. Adiguna)

The Gumarang Sakti Dance Company, which consists of 80 performers, supplied the supporting cast.

During the theatrical performance, models entered and exited the stage without interrupting the storyline.

Although the plot was difficult to absorb without looking for clues first on the handout, the show was enjoyable because of the amalgamation of styles.

The director plotted the acts by showcasing the theme in different colors, such as white, black and red. In the end, the runway was awash in glimmering colors.

The horizontal stage and its annexed curvy runway became a canvas onto which the art director projected visuals of the changing moon phases, drizzle and the moving sky.

Musa designed the men's clothes to be more modern than the women's. The male models had shirts, blazers and scarves made from traditional Melayu fabric but they had more of a western flair.

Musa said he was inspired by the novel Mimpi Dara by Yogi Soegyono, who hails from West Sumatra himself. Choreographer Boi G. Sakti, who is of Padang origin, designed the whole artistic performance.

Music played a big role in the event.

(JP/J. Adiguna)

The musicians fused electronic new-age sounds with traditional Melayu tunes. The sound system filled the space with majestic bass notes, a loud scrambling organ sound and rain and thunder sound effects.

Among the characters was an angel, played by Lea Simandjuntak, who changed the color of her wings from time to time. Lea gave life to the show, singing Indonesia Pusaka at its climax.

Although the singer's interpretation of the nationalist tune was old-fashioned, the melody and the lyrics created a surge of emotion among the audience.

Musa -- who has been involved in the fashion world since 1984 -- said that despite a promising career in the U.S., where he studied fashion, Indonesia was a more interesting place to work.

"I'm always optimistic because Indonesian society consists of the most fashionable individuals in all of Asia. I have a huge chance of success in the Indonesian fashion industry," said Musa, who has his own haute couture label, Musa Atelier.

He said he would interpret other cultures from the archipelago for his next project. "I want to resurrect Indonesian traditions that were long buried."

Musa also hoped the show would inspire others to merge fashion with tradition.

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