A parade of traditional Indonesian fabrics ranging from hand-painted batik to ikat weaves and songket cloths utilized in contemporary designs could be said to summarize Festival Mode Indonesia -- Jakarta Fashion Week 2008.
Modern cuts, combined with traditional fabrics used as accents or even as whole outfits, were seen on models sashaying the catwalk in Pacific Place Mall, South Jakarta, at the first Jakarta Fashion Week (Aug. 20 to 24).
Commencing one week before the eighth Bali Fashion Week (which starts today), Jakarta held its first ever fashion week, showcasing more than 600 collections from 47 local and Australian designers.
Publication corporation Femina Group (behind fashion and women's magazines Dewi, Femina, and Gadis) organized the event in collaboration with the Jakarta Tourism Agency and Sunsilk Style Collection.
Aside from answering to local fashion industry challenges, the event also aims to introduce Indonesian fashion to the regional market with some 5,000 guests including foreign journalists in attendance.
The event was officially inaugurated on Wednesday by Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo, who promised to facilitate and support Jakarta Fashion Week in its successive years.
"This is my promise because I am certain fashion is one of the bastions of the creative industry in our country," he said.
"In a lot of countries, creative industries including fashion have proven to drive the economy. Creative industries are flexible because they can adapt to various market situations and employ many people, making them a hugely valuable part of the economy," Femina Group CEO Mirta Kartohadiprodjo said.
Indonesia's fashion industry is worth some Rp 23.6 trillion (around US$2.5 billion), the biggest contributor to Indonesia's creative industries which have a net worth of Rp 79.08 trillion.
Through fashion week, designers from the Indonesian Fashion Designers Association (APPMI) and the Indonesian Fashion Designer Council (IPMI) were eager to promote traditional fabrics in their designs. Collections were divided into categories including "Ethnic", "Contemporary," "Cocktail", "Evening", "Classic" and "Muslim wear", and almost all designers added a touch of traditional fabrics to their collections.
On this note, Head of IPMI Stephanus Hamy said, "We, as Indonesian designers, need to carve our own identity."
"We are indeed influenced by local cultures and traditions, but we should use this as a foundation and as a reference, and then expand from there. We need to be creative."
With the insurgence of batik into the local fashion scene, designers at the fashion week explored other indigenous fabrics. Lurik cloth, ikat weaves and songket were all prevalent at the show.
However, the construction of the clothing was predominantly modern.
Models were dressed in A-line dresses, modified egg-shaped skirts, short pants, mini balloon skirts, blousons, high-waisted trousers, pencil skirts, mini and maxi dresses, tight fitting corsets and bustiers as well as black and purple stockings.
Sexy revealing outfits baring models' legs and backs contrasted with more conservative designs.
Stephanus (in the contemporary segment) used central Javanese lurik cloth, with its colorful striped pattern, combined with ikat weaves from Bali and Flores, and Timorese songket. Using these traditional fabrics, Stephanus styled modern blazers and pants.
Designers in the ethnic segment drew inspiration from ethnic tribes in Indonesia. Pontianak based Oeke Toegimin used Dayak tribe ikat weaves. Earth tones dominated his structured symmetrical designs decorated with weaves in the form of unique necklines.
Lenny Agustin, who has always been inspired by traditional Indonesian clothing construction, took her inspiration from the traditional clothing of Makassar. Blousons were combined with balloon mini skirts using colorful weaves.
Era Sukamto's show in the contemporary segment paired blousons and high-collared shirts with high-waisted trousers and pencil skirts. Era collaborated with the Pixel People Project (Bandung) to digitally produce the Parang Rusak batik pattern for her designs.
While most designers went straight to local batik, ikat and songket producers to get fabrics, Era chose to print the patterns using digital technology.
"This was so we could sustain mass production," Era said.
Meanwhile, Rusli Tjohnardi -- famous for his feminine designs -- produced something different. Rusli clad models in stockings with hard colors such as cobalt blue and amethyst, and short pants. Silk, chiffon, taffeta and tulle were combined with Makassar ikat weaves that looked both modern and traditional.
From their collections, designers showed an intriguing mix of culture and modern design.
"I want to make people see the beauty in Indonesian fabric in a modern way," designer Chossy said.
Chossy, who is showcasing his Posh Independence collection including short pants, swimsuits, transparent chiffon tunics, hand-painted batik on fine silk, organza and chiffon in black and white silhouette, said he aimed to promote Indonesian culture.
"We need to be the host in our own country. We need to promote our culture and traditional fabrics before other countries do."