There are two effects that a fashion show can give you: inspired or…well not inspired. In the case of Jakarta Fashion Week 2010/2011 kick-off show entitled “Styling Modernity: A Tribute to Kebaya”, I left the tent feeling like I wanted to dig into my closet for some of my hardly-worn kebaya!
It’s only fitting that Indonesia’s biggest fashion week opened with a kebaya-themed fashion show. Even though the cutting was not only originated from Indonesia and can be found throughout South-East Asia under different names, Kebaya has been a part of Indonesian tradition and is worn in many important occasions; such as weddings and state events.
I also find it fascinating that even though we women nowadays have more choices in what we can wear for our weddings, most of us still opt for kebaya. A lot of women just feel more feminine, elegant and sensual in a kebaya and no Vera Wang dress can even come close
Another interesting thing to see is how much kebaya has been morphed in the past decades. Different silhouette (usually more daring), heavy with sequins, rhinestones and other embellishments, some use really bright, clashing colors which brings an effect quite the opposite of quiet elegance that a traditional kebaya normally does.
On the opening video before the show started, designer Edward Hutabarat stated his firm standard of what a kebaya should constitute “It has to be symmetrical! The length of kebaya, neck shape and sleeves can be varied, but the symmetrical concept should not be changed because that’s what makes kebaya different than any other outfits.” He is also a big believer of great harmony and simplicity in a total look of a kebaya.
He said creating something stylish and fashionable does not mean you have to deviate from the old pattern. He said a designer can use high quality material such as velvet, taffeta, moiré, brocade or French lace, applying special cutting and finishing, as well as giving a harmonized detail. “Not emotionally.” He firmly added. So what does this translate into actual outfit? Well he designed a “resort kebaya”, no lace, brocade or sequins in sight, it was a chic and modern kebaya top (which look very comfortable too!) which he paired with flowy, palazzo made from vintage pekalongan batik.
Well, obviously every designer has their own interpretation of what a modern kebaya should look like. And last night we enjoyed each creation equally and could appreciate what they brought to the runway. From the vibrant and enticing bright blue piece inspired by Balinese Kebaya from Priyo Oktaviano, a clean cut, simple, yet stunning Kutubaru Kebaya from Suzy Lucon, to the regal and mysterious black Javanese Kraton Kebaya designed by Ghea. Each has their own unique personality. Each inspired us to wear kebaya more often and left us feeling proud of this heritage.
To quote Obin in the video towards the end of the show “Kebaya is here to stay.”