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JFW 2021: Fashion Knights revisit past works, back to basic

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, November 28, 2020  /  11:59 am
JFW 2021: Fashion Knights revisit past works, back to basic

Circular fashion: Fashion label Sejauh Mata Memandang creative director Chitra Subyakto showcases the Daur (Upcycle) collection at the 2020 Jakarta Fashion Week. (Courtesy of Instagram @sejauh_mata_memandang/JFW)

The 13th edition of Dewi Fashion Knights runways will return with three designers who have translated their stories in a time of pandemic into new fashion concepts that may determine the future of Indonesian fashion.

Going all digital this year, the event organized by Dewi fashion magazine has chosen the theme “Gaia: Mother Earth” to align with the global trend of circular fashion and environmentally friendly production.

“Looking back on this year, we have gone through political and economic turmoil and personal losses related to the pandemic. At moments like these we start to question what is essential in life,” said Dewi editor-in-chief Margaretha Untoro in a virtual press conference Tuesday.

“This current situation leads us to rethink nature, our roots, and [fashion] conscience.”

Into new concepts: Designers (from left) Lulu Lutfi Labibi, Chitra Subyakto and Toton Januar return for the 13th edition of Dewi Fashion Knights runways at the 2021 Jakarta Fashion Week.Into new concepts: Designers (from left) Lulu Lutfi Labibi, Chitra Subyakto and Toton Januar return for the 13th edition of Dewi Fashion Knights runways at the 2021 Jakarta Fashion Week. (Courtesy of Lulu Lutfi Labibi/Sejauh Mata Memandang/Toton Januar)

The designers anointed as the “knights”, who may perhaps provide some of the answers to such reflective questions, are Toton Januar, Chitra Subyakto and Lulu Lutfi Labibi.

While all three have taken part in past editions of Dewi Fashion Knights, this year will be a special one for them.

Toton Januar, who established his eponymous label TOTON with business partner Haryo Balitar and which has entered the global market, said that self-isolation was the mood that became the foundation of the commissioned collection.

“Devotion and spiritual connection to the higher power is among the inspirations of this collection,” he said at the press conference, adding that the production was planned so as not to add more problems to the environment.

Transcendent: Models on the Indonesian Fashion Forward runway showcase Toton Januar's collection. Titled Bunga Tidur (Dreams), the summer/spring collection was included in the 2020 Jakarta Fashion Week last year.Transcendent: Models on the Indonesian Fashion Forward runway showcase Toton Januar's collection. Titled Bunga Tidur (Dreams), the summer/spring collection was included in the 2020 Jakarta Fashion Week last year. (Courtesy of Instagram@TotonTheLabel/JFW)

He revisited his past works from 2014-2016 bearing his signature of macramé patterns and embroidery and used the materials in his workshop’s storage to create a yet unnamed collection that will be both artistic and functional.

Toton was already known for creating from waste fabric and as a mindful designer in ethical and environmental matters. His works can be identified by their energetic silhouette and clashing patterns, which show a subtle sense of rigid structure. 

But in this new collection, he said, some pieces were created only for presentation purposes.

“When the embellishment is stripped off, you can see basic clothing wearable for any occasion,” he added.

Stripes and more: Yogyakarta-based designer and artisan Lulu Lutfi Labibi presents his collection Tepian (The Edge) at the 2019 Jakarta Fashion Week. Stripes and more: Yogyakarta-based designer and artisan Lulu Lutfi Labibi presents his collection Tepian (The Edge) at the 2019 Jakarta Fashion Week. (Courtesy of Instagram@LuluLutfiLabibi/JFW)

A contemplative process was also the mine of ideas for Lulu, who deconstructed and rebuilt the striped pattern of hand-woven lurik as his trademark. 

An extension of his latest work for art festival ARTJOG last August, his collection for Dewi Fashion Knights will be his deliberate interpretation of the current situation.

Instead of getting newly produced hand-woven fabric, he reused the old fabrics he had kept in the storage for years and made new fabric out of scraps. 

“The cutting and the visuals of the collection return to basics, but in an appealing way. As a reminder of our struggle in this difficult time, a piece of poetry will be hidden in the pocket linings,” Lulu explained.

Titled Sandang, Hening Cipta dan Puisi (Clothing, Moment in Silence and Poetry), Lulu has borrowed a few lines from Joko Pinurbo’s poems.

Hidden message: Designer Lulu Lutfi Labibi will insert verses from poet Joko Pinurbo in his latest collection.Hidden message: Designer Lulu Lutfi Labibi will insert verses from poet Joko Pinurbo in his latest collection. (Courtesy of Lulu Lutfi Labibi/-)

The poet’s line of “Tubuhku kenangan yang sedang menyembuhkan lukanya sendiri” (My body is a memory healing its own wounds) from his anthology Selamat Menjalankan Ibadah Puisi (Wish You a Happy Poetry Pilgrimage) is printed in the breast pocket.

For bottom wear, Lulu picked a famous line from Joko’s Surat Kopi (Coffee Letters) that reads “Kebahagiaan saya terbuat dari kesedihan yang sudah merdeka” (My happiness is made of sorrow that has set loose).

“The creative process was unfamiliar but fun. We recreated what we already had into something new. In this collection, you will find white-on-white pieces without embellishment and lurik, which is my signature.”

Chitra, the creative director of traditional textile fashion house Sejauh Mata Memandang, had long initiated the concept of circular fashion and sustainability – slow fashion – in the label’s production.

Using her knowledge of the sartorial choices of people in the past – the clean-cut, the color palette and the limited variety of clothes – as her reference for the new collection, Chitra said she took on the challenge of embracing simplicity in her designs and environmentally friendly production.

“I’m still learning how to maintain creativity but not adding more problems to the Earth since the fashion industry is one of the big-five contributors to pollution,” she said.

The biggest challenge, she added, was how to find the right method, especially because Indonesia is not a technology-heavy country. 

“We have to make do by using organic fabrics available in the domestic market and pre-consumer waste that is turned to a new fabric by the weavers in Pandaan village in East Java.”

Dewi Fashion Knights has always been the most-awaited event that closes the Jakarta Fashion Week, which this year is scheduled to run from Nov. 26 to 29.

A presentation video prepared by each designer on their creative processes will be played at the start of the runways, all will be aired through the organizer’s microsite JFW.TV.

The final runways serve as the gong being struck that marks the end of the fashion fiesta, dubbed the biggest in the region, with a metaphorically reverberating sound that will extrapolate future trends.

The presentation of basic and simple fashions this year, however, according to Margaretha, will not be the main message to be relayed to the next.

“Globally, there are two routes fashion people can take in interpreting this current situation. They may go back-to-basics or go extra with maximalist fashion as a celebration of life as in post-Second World War fashion,” she said.

“Either way, we hope this year will be a benchmark for sustainable fashion.” (ste)

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