Journey to Jakarta


Runway revelry during the Indonesia Fashion Week in Jakarta.


SELAMAT siang, Jakarta! I arrived in Indonesia on Feb 13, feeling like a zombie because of the early flight. It was a bit like jetlag, only without the shift of time zone, perhaps due to all the excitement of the previous days, filled with Chinese New Year celebrations.


However, all the tiredness was soon forgotten when we were welcomed by the warm smiles of Indonesian fashion designers Oka Diputra and Dwi Iskander. I felt very special being picked up by the designers themselves, all of whom were involved in organising the Indonesia Fashion Week (IFW) 2013.


I had been nominated by the World Fashion Week (WFW) organisers to represent Malaysia at the IFW, for which I felt truly privileged.


I would also like to express my gratitude to Ali Charisma, the president director of the IFW and Paco De Jaimes, chairman and CEO of WFW, for their efficiency throughout the preparations.


As one of the nominated designers of WFW, I was invited to showcase our latest collections on the catwalk at the Jakarta Convention Centre from Feb 14 to 17. It was such an honour to be part of this “family”, to be able to promote and make some noise for the upcoming WFW Paris 2013 Welcome Ceremony in November.


It was also wonderful to get to know the other three designers on board. They were: celebrity designer Addy Van Der Krommenacker from the Netherlands, Brazilian couturier Samuel Cirnansk and super-talented Swedish designer Camilla Wellton (a friendly person whose afro I love, not to mention her wonderful eco-friendly collection and amazing cutting).


I spent five days in the convention centre trying to meet as many people and attend as many talks and shows as possible to learn as much about their industry as I could. I have to say, I gained so much more from doing this than I did previously in all the fashion trade events I attended.


The joint forces of all the designers from Indonesia, their rich heritage, creativity and friendly approach made a strong impression on my team and me.


IFW is only in its second year, but the attendance, number of brands, designers involved, staging and the venue were all too good to be true.


There were a total of 503 exhibitors, 208 designers, 100 media outlets, 60 international buyers, 300 models and an audience of nearly 50,000.


Their government and private sector had obviously gone all out to elevate the textile and fashion industries to a higher level.


The same could be done in Malaysia, as we have the talent, products and great infrastructure for hosting international events, not to mention our incomparable hospitality. Perhaps this is something our government can think about.


We had a designer gathering on the fourth day, hosted by Ali, who shared his thoughts about the IFW.


During our discussion, he said the local designers wouldn’t be strong enough if they attempted to further their brands on their own. I admire his unselfish attitude and passion for fashion.


He believes that Asian fashion can, and should, bring the world to Asia or bring Asia to the world. The question is, how.


We discussed the possibility of all Asian designers coming together and creating a big event. It was an interesting conversation that I hope to continue one day.


We also discussed Indonesian batik and songket, two important elements that were incorporated within the designs showcased at the IFW.


There were just so many incredible ways of wearing a simple sarong that I may need to write an entire column about it!


Away from the spotlight, the backstage team, the make-up artists and hairdressers were fantastic.


The models, mainly from Indonesia, did a superb job – they were great on the catwalk and had good attitudes. All of them hugged and kissed their designers after each show. There was literally a queue to congratulate and thank the designer. It was wonderful to witness just how appreciative they were. I believe that no matter how famous a model is, she must respect the designer she’s working with. I’d like to also say a big “well done!” to all the models at IFW. You guys rocked the stage!


We were also invited by the organisers to an after-party held at the Foundry No.8 club near Plaza Indonesia.


I loved the interior, which had several zones including fashion, culinary and function halls. It reminded me a bit of a warehouse.


Not only was this a great place to shop, but also just to hang out and unwind. Fashion TV was there to take video clips of the event, and some of my favourite Indonesian models were also there to parade Camilla Wellton’s collection at the closing event.


We paid a visit to the new Skye Bar and Restaurant at Grand Indonesia Mall which is located on the 56th floor. The view of Jakarta by night was breathtaking, and the drinks and food were yummy too.


Overall, although it was hard to choose among so many brilliant designers, my personal favourites were Camilla Wellton for her beautiful coat dresses, Deden Siswanto for his amazing choreography and collection, Oka Diputra for his great men’s wear, Aliki for her accessories and Friederich Herman for his edgy designs.


Terima kasih, Jakarta, for providing us with the utmost hospitality.


PS: I’ve finally joined the massive ranks of people on Twitter, so make sure to follow me!


Mel’s Place is a fortnightly column by Melinda Looi for The Star newspaper.


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