The Jakarta Post
Anniesa Hasibuan never thought she would become a Muslim wear fashion designer.
Until a year ago, fashion was just a hobby for Muslim fashion designer Anniesa Hasibuan ' something she kept to herself and her family.
Born in Jakarta, the 29-year-old mother of one is an entrepreneur on a team with her husband, Andika Surachman, with whom she runs a travel agency that specializes in umrah ( minor haj ) trips. She is a graceful and serious lady who talks flowingly.
'I loved drawing when I was small, but I only started designing my own clothes when I jumped into the business world. I often accompany my husband in meetings and to meet clients, so I have to dress up properly, because as businesspeople, we have to take care of our appearance,' she said.
As much as she loved wearing her favorite Indonesian designer clothes, Anniesa said she could not resist the desire to design her own Islamic outfits that speak of her personality and taste.
Her outfits, made by her loyal dressmakers, soon attracted the attention of clients and some friends, who wanted to order the same designs.
Anniesa believes in fate, and her fate led her to meet Usya Soeharjono from the Women's Growth and Success Foundation in London, who invited her to showcase her Muslim wear collection in the Kaftan Festival during the London Fashion Week last March. Antaranews.com reported she presented 10 dresses decked with pearls, Swarovski and sequins.
'In my life, I value opportunity. I believe an opportunity may not present itself twice. When I joined the London Kaftan Festival, I had no ambition. I am sure this [chance] was written in my destiny,' she said.
The success of the fashion show in London grew her confidence, and she presented her solo fashion show in Jakarta two months later.
Besides participating in the Jakarta Fashion Week in October, she also received invitations to international fashion events, including the Hello Indonesia Festival in London in June, the Couture New York Fashion Week in September and Moslema In Style International Fashion Forward in Malaysia in November.
After the series of shows in 2015, Anniesa is now preparing her comeback at the Couture New York Fashion Week in the Crown Plaza Times Square in Manhattan on Feb. 13, where she plans to bring a collection of 15 royal queen dresses themed 'Pearlasia'.
In the new collection, she wants to promote pearls from Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara by applying them on the clothes.
'I love pearls and gemstones. Lombok produces the best and the biggest number of pearls. Even in Europe people like pearls, and they say the best ones are from Lombok,' she said.
She gave a sneak peak of four princess gowns that would be presented in New York during a press conference at the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Industry. All of them featured ball gown silhouettes, with one in blue butter mint color like Queen Elsa's iconic dress in the fantasy film Frozen. The closing dress is expected to be full of pearls.
Anniesa would bring Indonesian top models Laura Muljadi and Sarah Azka along, who could breathe life into her collection better than foreign models.
Although she takes her concepts and designs seriously, Anniesa, who adores Anne Avantie's kebaya and hijab outfits and collections of Inna La Perle, Dian Pelangi and Zaskia Sungkar, does not want to get stressed out with this new adventure.
She said she did not feel any pressure to necessarily present all 15 collections and would only include those that would finish on schedule.
She also has no sales target for her couture collection for a simple reason ' she barely sells any. Once she turned down a buyer who wanted to buy one of her designs at Rp 150 million ( US$10,865 ).
'I often refuse to sell my collection, because [the clothes] are made with a lot of hard work. I love them too much, and I am afraid I will have a different mood and cannot recreate them.'
However, Anniesa is a woman who balances business instinct and passion. While many of her couture designs are not for sale, she rents them out, because she sees high enthusiasm from people who want to wear them for special occasions, such as pre-wedding photo sessions or wedding receptions.
'I make clothes that I like, and it turns out that they find a place in the wedding market. Since it is not my field, I cooperate with wedding organizers [in renting them out].'
It is no surprise her couture designs are popular for weddings, because most of them are inspired by royal dresses from various cultures, including the Middle Eastern and Javanese.
After opening her own boutique in Kemang last April, Anniesa, who gets full support from her husband, plans to officially launch her ready-to-wear collection this year.
She said the collection would be lighter but still represent her style of a sparkling touch and colorful choices.
Anniesa said she was grateful for the opportunities to channel her passion. 'We have to be confident with our creation. At least, we make them for ourselves. It is not a problem if other people like or dislike it, because they have their own taste.'