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Jakarta Fashion Week: Cultural heritage at the forefront

Jossa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, October 27, 2018  /  09:04 am
Jakarta Fashion Week: Cultural heritage at the forefront

Fashion designer Anne Avantie and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti during the closing of (Femina Group via Herliyanso)

Wearing your culture on your sleeve — literally — is the new black this season, as seen on the runway of Jakarta Fashion Week (JFW) 2019.

With the current zeitgeist focusing on cultural heritage amid controversies regarding cultural appropriation here and there, it is no wonder both local and international designers want to keep theirs well and alive into the future by adapting them into both trendy pieces and timeless styles. 

Pakistani womenswear brand Zuria Dor showcased ‘The Woman”, a collection featuring both western and eastern silhouettes in jewel tones and soft neutrals as a nod to the country’s origins, with intricate beading embellishing a majority of the dresses.

From the land down under, Australia’s Darwin Aboriginal Arts Fair Foundation brought over designs featuring traditional Aboriginal textiles in a variety of colors and patterns, shaped into garments ranging from easy beachside caftan cover-ups to fitted cocktail dresses.

One particular dress in rich red hues stood out in particular, its intricate patterns complimenting the draped detailing that never managed to overpower the whole look.

Models present creations from Australian aboriginal art centers and Novita Yunus at Jakarta Fashion Week 2019 in Senayan City, Jakarta, on Saturday. Models present creations from Australian aboriginal art centers and Novita Yunus at Jakarta Fashion Week 2019 in Senayan City, Jakarta, on Saturday. (The Jakarta Post/Vellen Augustine)

Meanwhile, Vaishali S from India showcased traditional Indian tenun (woven fabric) fashioned into modernized silhouettes that still retains a touch of the traditional.

Sari-esque cuts were still present in several pieces, albeit pared down to simple elements. Even in monochromatic colors, Vaishali managed to make the fabric the star of the show, helped by the fact the loose silhouettes did not have overbearing embellishments on them.

As Indonesia is the host country of JFW, it is no surprise Indonesian designers want to showcase the best of their own cultural heritage.

Batik Chic by Novita Yunus presented batik in sleek, office-friendly cuts with a pop of rich blue amid the sea of browns and blacks, while Muyen featured 48 ethnic-inspired designs using songket from Sumatra embellished with beadwork using materials ranging from precious stones to shells.

Fashion students also got in on the act, with those coming from the Binus Northumbria School of Design showcasing batik from Lasem, Central Java, with the batik’s Chinese influences as well as its tulis (written) method of being made some of its appeal.

A particularly sultry look was achieved by a white and red number, fitted at the bodice with voluminous gathers and rumples nearing the hemline with black straps providing a little bit of edge.

While most Indonesian textiles have intricate patterns loaded with meaning behind them, those looking for something more subdued yet still rich in heritage can wear tenun in softer colors, as seen in SOE Jakarta’s understated collection in earth tones that utilized tenun made by weavers from Central Java town Pekalongan, Yogyakarta, and Flores in East Nusa Tenggara using natural dyes. 

Another highlight of JFW 2019 was Anne Avantie’s “Badai Pasti Berlalu” (The Storm Will Surely Pass) collection presentation on Tuesday evening, with Anne’s signature ethnic designs mainly showcasing tenun from Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

While the high profile guests at the show certainly livened up the evening, the surprise appearance of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti certainly stole the limelight, with the minister taking the stage wearing a black bodice layered under a multi-patterned fringed outer, oversized sunglasses and towering black leather boots.

Susi, who joined the parade after Anne agreed to donate 10 fishing boats for the communities of disaster-struck Palu and Donggala, is no stranger to the catwalk, having walked for Anne at Indonesia Fashion Week 2018.

Star-studded presentations aren’t all there is to JFW 2019, as British womenswear label Teatum Jones along with Indonesian label Sean Sheila presented their collections with a nod to inclusivity, exemplified by several women with disabilities who made their way down the catwalk as models.

Classic, feminine florals were seen in a majority of Jones’ line, with silhouettes accentuating the wearer’s curves but not tight enough to restrict.

With fashion shows becoming more than just morose looking models walking up and down the runway for 20 minutes, one might wonder what next year’s JFW will have in store, especially with the continuing push for diversity and culture that’s happening around the world.

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