In the fall of 2016, Anniesa Hasibuan made waves as the first Indonesian designer to show at New York Fashion Week and the first to feature hijabs in every look. This year, the names of Indonesian designers pushing barriers included Vivi Zubedi, Riza Assegaf and Fara Shahab, Dian Pelangi, Catherine Njoo, Barli Asmara and Melia Wijaya.
Diversity, one of the show’s titular themes, existed on the runway as much as it did off it — each designer used a standout choice in fabric or accessories to distinguish his or her collection from the others. The show — which featured vast and varied visions — could have easily felt disjointed, but instead the stark contrasts in tone helped define each collection in an isolated and concrete way. Each dimming of lights seemed to transport the audience from one world to the next.
This was best exemplified by designer Melia Wijaya whose collection was the embodiment of famous Indonesian folklore. She not only utilized a blend of cacophonous bird calls and percussion to inject mysticism to her show, but her designs utilized elaborate feather headdresses to blur the line between fantasy and reality. Despite the industrial feel of the venue, viewers were entranced by Wijaya’s designs and the story she created.
Another notable example was Barli Asmara. His collection — a crowd favorite — was dedicated to exhibiting the detailed craftsmanship of Indonesia. Employing minimal makeup, hair and color — by only using white fabric — Asmara centered the viewer’s focus toward the intricacy of his dresses’ constructions, jewel placement and lace detailing. The entire room felt ethereal.
While diversity in fashion remains an issue at large, it is through platforms like the Indonesian Diversity Spring/Summer 2018 showcase that the voices of minority designers are elevated and amplified.
When asked what it feels like to be a part of the showcase this year, husband and wife designer-duo Riza Assegaf and Fara Shahab — basking in the afterglow and buzz of the show’s finale — had a simple answer filled with appreciation and awe.
“It’s so great, so great,” Farah Shahab said, smiling wide. “We are from Indonesia and we are six different designers and we are here.”
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