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Designers give Doraemon glamorous, darker twist

Allysha Nila

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, February 21, 2019  /  08:58 am
Designers give Doraemon glamorous, darker twist

High fashion: Women’s looks from Ivan Gunawan’s Kuroba collection are featured at Modo 2019 in Jakarta. (Courtesy of Muara Bagdja Team/-)

It is perfect timing that Modo – the first Doraemon fashion show in Asia – was staged in Jakarta this year.

The year 2019 marks 50 years since cartoon series Doraemon was first published, while 2020 will mark 50 years since Doraemon first appeared in Indonesia. Doraemon has also been chosen as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics special ambassador.

The show Modo, the name of which is derived from Mode Doraemon and the Japanese pronunciation of “mode”, involved various Indonesian designers who interpreted the beloved robotic cat character.

The lineup included celebrity designer Ivan Gunawan, whose show opened two days of fashion presentations at the Grand Indonesia shopping mall in Central Jakarta on Feb. 13 and 14; Jil by Gloria Agatha; Monday to Sunday; and 3 Mongkis.

As more designers are given more platforms to reinterpret classic cartoon characters, it is interesting to see how each vision fulfills a different segment of an increasingly dynamic fashion market.

Having Ivan Gunawan involved and to open the show was quite unexpected. Aesthetically, Ivan and Doraemon are worlds apart.

Show-stopper: The final look from Ivan Gunawan’s Kuroba collection at Modo 2019 is modeled by Asia’s Next Top Model cycle 6 alumni Jesslyn Lim. The ensemble is up for auction starting at Rp 250 million (US$17,807).Show-stopper: The final look from Ivan Gunawan’s Kuroba collection at Modo 2019 is modeled by Asia’s Next Top Model cycle 6 alumni Jesslyn Lim. The ensemble is up for auction starting at Rp 250 million (US$17,807). (Courtesy of Muara Bagdja Team/-)

Ivan’s collection, called “Kuroba” (Dark Wings), consisted of 25 looks for women and five for men. It was tricky to see how the collection had any Doraemon vibe visually — Ivan went for a conceptual approach instead, with a dark twist.

The story of Doraemon is, after all, pretty dark: He had lost his ears (his creator’s rats mistakenly chewed them off), love interest and color from crying too much, and ended up traveling back in time to improve the fate of his creator’s great-grandfather, Nobita, a lazy, wimpy kid who never manages to solve his own problems — and Doraemon has to save him again, again and again.

There were many interpretations in detail, which were realized in collaboration with visionary accessories designer Rinaldy Yunardi and Optik Seis for eyewear. Doraemon’s signature propellers were used on headbands and caps; his golden bell and red sash were made as necklaces and belts; and there was a fedora adorned with crystal drops on its rim — perhaps a symbol of Doraemon crying non-stop after his love interest, Noramiyoko, laughed at him when he lost his precious ears. Even socks had patches of Shizuka, Nobita and other characters.

Meanwhile, textile details included sakura beading, patches of Doraemon characters and a contemporary batik print with silhouettes of the characters in gold. No interpretations of magic pockets were seen, though.

In the show’s finale, Ivan presented what he called his masterpiece in his 15-year career. It was truly a show-stopping look – a decadent ensemble of a zipped long coat, accessorized with an extravagant headpiece with propellers and a black tulle neckpiece.

The coat alone was sprinkled entirely with gold Swarovski crystals and hand-embroidered with Doraemon characters all over — all sewn by a single seamstress.

The final look alone took six months to create, so it is no wonder that the entire collection took over a year to develop. The look is up for auction at Rp 250 million (US$17,807) and is on display at Grand Indonesia.

“Ivan has a myriad of ideas in his head, just like Doraemon, who has a myriad of gizmos in his magic pocket,” said Helena Irma K. Tegoeh, director of AI Indonesia, which licenses numerous Japanese animated franchises to this country.

The objective was “to introduce Doraemon at a high fashion level, targeting high teens and young adults”, proving that “Doraemon isn’t something that only children can wear”.

Ivan definitely brought a decadent, couture-like kind of high fashion to the mix, but exactly how is this appealing to millennials remains to be seen. The silhouettes alone seem more fitting for tea parties, charity benefits, galas, weddings and award shows and are less in line with what is stereotyped as “millennial”.

Dark wings: Men’s looks from Ivan Gunawan’s Kuroba collection are featured at Modo 2019.Dark wings: Men’s looks from Ivan Gunawan’s Kuroba collection are featured at Modo 2019. (Courtesy of Muara Bagdja Team/-)

The menswear, however, is exactly that. Ivan notices streetwear is not showing any signs of slowing down – there was plenty of PVC outerwear, logo detailing, sporty looks and technical detailing.

The clothes were even paired with Yeezy 500 shoes. Perhaps the four-layered ensembles were not the most realistic in this weather; nevertheless, they showed a clear vision.

The micro-sized Matrix-style eyewear, which were mostly used on the womenswear, were quintessentially millennial.

There are plenty of people who are not into streetwear, and that seems to be the niche that the womenswear fulfills: young women who still want caped dresses, giant bow ties, fields of organza, the glitz, the glamor and stuff that is not exactly for every day fashion. It is likely Ivan intended the looks to be collectibles, like most Doraemon merchandise is, given what he presented at the end.

While the industry continues the habit of lumping everyone between the ages of 23 and 38 into a singular, stereotypical demographic, Ivan identified just how many niches exists in a single collection. (ste)