SHIMMERING Sumatran songket intricately woven cloth, detailed Javanese batik and elaborate Balinese headdresses usually have their place in traditional ceremonies. But today, they are gracing the catwalks of London.
Indonesian fashion designer Dian Pelangi is one of 12 international designers selected to contribute to the two-day exclusive Muslim fashion event, the Haute Arabia High Tea 2014 in the UK.
Dian said she is proud to present her most recent line at the event, held from Jan 17-18 and was scheduled to be attended by members of both British and Middle Eastern royal families.The designs, which were recently presented to the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry ahead of her trip, draw heavily on traditional Indonesian fabrics and styles, while also displaying the designer’s signature modern twist.
“Since we’re bringing the designs to London, which is famous for its influential royal family, the theme for this collection is Royal Kingdoms of Indonesia,” Dian said.
Representing the powerful Majapahit kingdom, two models were decked out in long flowing robes crafted from beautiful batik fabrics in tones of red, maroon, beige and chocolate. The models slowly twirled fans as the gentle sound of Javanese gamelan played in the background.
The gold theme continued with gold headdresses, breastplate-style necklaces and decorative gold jewellery that elongated the models’ fingers.
While parading the shimmering pieces, the Sriwijaya models performed dance movements from South Sumatra, accompanied again by local music.
Finally, in homage to the ancient kingdoms of Bali, the closing design featured billowing skirts, a colourful jacket in geometric black patterns and a fresh frangipani headdress. Shaded by a silver parasol, the model sprinkled offerings of rice over the catwalk.
Teaming each design with accompanying music and movements served to highlight and accentuate the regional themes of the pieces.
While the influence of traditional costume is striking, the pieces also displayed more everyday functionality than the heavy and somewhat restrictive outfits that are usually reserved for weddings and traditional ceremonies.
The fabrics are lighter, the designs easier to move in, and the dresses also sport modern twists in the way they are cut and layered.
Although Dian has previously held fashion shows in London, Paris, Germany, Dubai, Kuwait and Jordan, to name a few, she is particularly excited about the upcoming Haute Arabia event in the UK.
“I feel honored, proud and grateful to be representing Indonesia at this event,” said the 23-year-old.
“It’s so exciting,” she continued, “because Muslim fashion is no longer underestimated, and it is really becoming a serious industry.”The global Muslim fashion industry is indeed a multimillion-dollar market. There is increasing demand for designer Islamic fashion both in Muslim countries and in non-Muslim countries that have Muslim populations like Australia or the UK.
Dian also points out the designs can be worn by anyone — Muslim or non-Muslim alike — and many have a universal appeal.
“We mix the local influences with global designs, in order to broaden their appeal,” she explained.
Dian describes this particular line as “high-end” as many of the materials, such as the gold-woven songket, are very expensive to work with.
Dian said Middle Eastern consumers find Indonesian fabrics very bright and festive, and appreciate the gold detailing and “bling” of traditional Indonesian designs. However, she does make some modifications when designing for shows abroad.
“We tone down the colors a little for the foreign market, often using darker maroons instead of reds.”
It is this kind of savvy insight into what attracts buyers that has catapulted this young designer onto the global fashion stage, where she continues to act as an advocate and ambassador for traditional Indonesian fabrics and designs.
The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post.
The Jakarta Post
Sat, January 18, 2014