JP/Triwik KurniasariThe year 2012 is an important one for young fashion designer Stella Rissa Winata. According to the talented 26-year-old, it marks a turning point in her life as a designer and a lady heading to maturity.
The Jakarta Post interviewed Stella recently at her minimalist boutique at Grand Indonesia. She looked fresh and fashionably chic in an orange top and dark pants. The woman had let her long black tresses loose and during the interview she occasionally let them fall over her forehead, covering her eyes and cheeks while she answered
It was not easy to book time with Stella for the interview as the woman is very busy, dividing her time between running her “stella rissa” fashion line and designing. Later on, she explained that she was preparing a fashion art show to promote a car brand.
“It is not merely a fashion show. It will not only feature the clothing but also the concept. We are combining [the concepts of] cars, fashion, art and digital elements,” she explained of the upcoming project excitedly.
But that is not all. The Lasalle College Jakarta graduate is also preparing her second solo fashion exhibition in November.
Stella has high hopes for the next show, expecting it to be a continuation of her success at her premier showcase back in 2008.
The last show, which featured fresh designs with vibrant bright lines, successfully put her name on the Indonesian fashion industry’s radar.
For her achievement, Stella was named the best young designer by Cleo Magazine that year. Soon she became Indonesia’s hottest young designer, receiving offers to showcase her designs at various prestigious fashion events in the country and abroad.
Her name has been heard many times at major fashion shows, accompanying big names in the Indonesian fashion industry.
The highlight of her career was when she opened a boutique for her ready-to-wear clothing line “Stella Rissa” in early 2011.
Sitting comfortably in a white wooden chair in the center of her store, Stella shared her transformation as a fashion designer from year one until now, describing her current style as “more mature and more lady-like”.
“My designs are for women who know their styles. She has her own personal style, she is definitely not a follower. She is sexy from the inside, elegant. She knows what she is doing,” Stella elaborated on the character of her designs, which reflect her own personality as an individual.
Stella grew up with a strong character. She is the type of girl who has never been afraid of being different from others.
“I basically love a challenge. I will take something that people don’t. Like in fashion, when other designers make haute couture, I create ready-to-wear items, when others turn to ready to wear, I will make something in the middle,” she elaborated.
Stella has demonstrated that strong character from the beginning of her career, starting with her persistence in majoring in fashion design in college. Despite her reputation as a straight-A student, Stella refused to take the usual path of enrolling in formal education, instead she determined to take fashion design courses and follow her passion to become a fashion designer.
She said she already knew she wanted to become a fashion designer when she was in junior high. And the ambitious Stella, who always got what she wanted, had a goal, and with hard work, persistence and faith she was able to have it all at a very young age, before she reached 25.
She believes that people become successful when they have faith in their dreams.
“When you trust in what you are doing, it is like all the molecules of your body, every single part, are heading in one direction, your goal,” Stella said.
The family factor also plays an important role in her career. Having an artsy family with a painter grandfather, architect father and brother as well as a crafty mother is definitely an advantage for Stella as there were no family hindrances for her to pursue a career in the art world.
Even though the artistic blood runs deep in her family, Stella said she was the only one who dared enough to turn art into a business without any financial support from her parents.
Stella said she started small, securing a profit of only Rp 50,000 (US$5.30) from designing for her high school friends, but now she has her own fashion line with a distribution network reaching as far as Singapore and Malaysia.
Her unique character seems to have helped her business grow.
“We must have our own vision and mission and we cannot follow others. In the end, that’s what makes [the business] unique and sustainable,” she shared.
Unfortunately, when Stella was at the top of her career and her business was about to move to the next level, she made a decision to slow things down.
That resolution may surprise anyone who knows the strong and ambitious career woman who always sets detailed yearly plans for her life.
As a woman who knows what she wants in life and doesn’t care about peoples’ opinions, Stella determined that this year, 2012, would be completely different from the previous busy years in her life.
Stella proudly announced that this year is the year of new Stella, the year when she became a more relaxed and less ambitious person despite her seemingly hectic schedule in the lead up to her upcoming fashion shows.
She said she had started thinking about marriage and having children, even considering sacrificing her career to become a wife and mother.
“I know being a mother is an arduous task, because you will educate a generation … and I don’t want to be selfish,” she said, adding that her decision was inspired by her own mother, who, unlike Stella, is a simple homemaker.
But will she quit the fashion world?
In the end, life for Stella remains for fashion despite her recent decision that may change the course of her career. She may no longer be the star on the runaway anymore, but she still imagines herself a fashion guru after marriage, teaching her students not only about fashion but also character-building and attitude.
“Fashion is not about clothing per se,” she remarked at the end of the interview.