Feature

A different look at Minangkabau
fashion

A model wears an outfit made to resemble a traditional Minangkabau communal house.

The Minangkabau Fashion Carnival boasted new versions of traditional West Sumatran clothing never before seen in the region.

The inaugural fashion street pageant held in Padang on June 9 enlivened the closing stage of the Tour de Singkarak V, an international cycling race in the province.

The event presented 39 pieces for adults and 20 for children, created by professional designers, beauty salon owners, students, teachers and housewives all under the theme of expression.

Elaborate: This costume uses feathers to decorate the front of tingkuluak, made from an embroidered cloth.

Elaborate: This costume uses feathers to decorate the front of tingkuluak, made from an embroidered cloth.
“All participants are free to interpret the theme, by applying the fashion idioms of the Minangkabau and West Sumatra to their costumes,” said Anita Dikarina from the pageant’s executive committee.

Adult designs were mostly based on traditional Minangkabau dress, particularly headgear.

Suntiang or head ornaments normally worn by Minangkabau brides and saluak or tingkuluak, a cloth wrapped around the head to form a horn-like headdress, were flaunted by some models clad in party gowns with butterfly-wing accessories.

Layered: A three-tier tingkuluak made from embroidery and red butterfly wings.

Layered: A three-tier tingkuluak made from embroidery and red butterfly wings.


The shapes of the tapering roofs of rumah gadang (communal house) and buffalo horns were generally chosen as themes in the pieces presented, with Minang embroidery, palm fiber, rubber, paper and even real horns used as materials. There were also iconic headdresses featuring miniature tabuik (a ceremonial decorative object in Pariaman), the famous clock tower in Bukittingg and rumah gadang.

Motifs of flowers and fans that are often seen adorning the items used in Minang customary and religious rituals were also be noticed in the headgear creations worn by other models in the carnival. Also seen were anak daro Minang, or chidren’s bridal costumes.

Behind the scenes: A model stands by as her elaborate costume receives a few final adjustments.

Behind the scenes: A model stands by as her elaborate costume receives a few final adjustments.


“There was controversy over using the word Minangkabau for the carnival, out of fear that the creative program would spoil the Minang culture. But public response has been positive,” said Anita, who is also head of the art and culture traditional values section of the provincial tourism office.

Those originally objecting to the creative Minang fashion, according to Anita, could accommodate the event by asking participants to adhere the values and norms observed by the Minang community. “The decency, esthetics and ethics of the people and the younger generation of Minangkabau should not be overlooked.”

A member of the jury, Raudha Thaib, welcomed the carnival. “The fashion in this program is for glamour rather than for daily wear, so there’s no problem of threat to traditional dress. I’m just surprised to find Minang youths capable of creating attractive designs,” said the agriculture professor at Andalas University who is also a member of the Pagaruyung kingdom royal family.

Crown: Buffalo horns and miniature rumah gadang or Minangkabau communal house are used as ornaments in the headpiece sported by this model.

Crown: Buffalo horns and miniature rumah gadang or Minangkabau communal house are used as ornaments in the headpiece sported by this model.


The jury said that one designer, Upik, had set a requirement that the costumes designed should not expose certain body parts to reflect Minangkabau’s Muslim culture. Upik specifically mentioned an interesting aspect of the show, in which some designers used newspapers, cement sacks, leaves and dry twigs to make stunning ornaments.

Upik also praised the young designers’ improvisation in finding new idioms to create Minang outfits. “This is remarkable for me and the program is worthy of being an annual event. I’m sure the Minangkabau Fashion Carnival will make a difference in Indonesia, let alone in its requirement to recycle used materials, which could prompt the creation of nutshell-studded costumes and the like.”

Sassy: A model’s Minangkabau bridal outfit is completed by a headdress featuring a rumah gadang made from palm fibers adorned with gold and silver leaves

Sassy: A model’s Minangkabau bridal outfit is completed by a headdress featuring a rumah gadang made from palm fibers adorned with gold and silver leaves


She also proposed that next year’s parade be named the “Visualization of Minangkabau and Fashion”. Minangkabau culture has many idoms, Upik said. “If these idioms are visualized in fashion design, I’m convinced something unique will come out, different from the fashion carnivals in Jember [East Java] and other regions.”

Local handicrafts, added Raudha, could be combined to support the visualization of fashion. Among such handiworks are embroideries from Pandai Sikek, Silungkang and Kubang in West Sumatra.

The head of the West Sumatra Tourism and Creative Economy Office, Burhasman Bur, expressed his pride in the carnival and said that he planned to make it an annual fashion program so as to increase the variety tourist attractions in the province.

— Photos by Syofiardi Bachyul Jb

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