Denny Wirawan Un Amore; Unconventional Bridal Gowns

Indonesian designer Denny Wirawan has hit it out of the ballpark once more with his latest collection of bridal finery that walked down the runway at the Grand Hyatt Wedding Fair 2013. With the theme Un Amore, Denny and his team succeeded in putting together an exhibition that felt more like storytelling than just another catwalk show. Obviously the dresses were the main attraction, but the carefully-curated audiovisual aid and mood lighting gave it more of a real-life fairytale feel. Here’s a blow-by-blow just for you!

I knew I was in for a very interesting time when a rendition of Charles Trenet’s La Mer played over the speakers – anyone who starts a wedding show with chanson instead of sappy strings knows what he’s doing. Then the dresses came down the line: I noted that of the first five to appear, none of the dresses were white nor full-length, two characteristics of the “classic” wedding gown by today’s standards. I think these first few dresses were geared more towards the bridal party, but I’d still like to think that Denny Wirawan did not create this collection for the conventional bride – I’d like to think that he completely broke the mould and sent down Valentino -inspired reds, coral reef turquoise, and a gorgeous skintight cream number that looked nothing like the cake-topper dresses you’d imagine on a modern bridesmaid. And those were just the first five!

The transition into the second set opened with another jazzy musical number, and this is when the headgear started to get interesting too. Fascinators provided by Oscar Daniel did just that: they were most fascinating indeed!  They were the final touches on a complete ensemble without outshining the dress. And when one suspiciously classic-looking dress started making its way down the runway, I thought, “Finally! A white full-length dress that looks like a cupcake.” I was so wrong! What I thought was a white dress turned out to be a layer of white lace over a yellow base fabric. This was not just a fashion show for me – it quickly turned into a fun guessing game too.

The main lights dimmed and the audience was suddenly bathed in purple light. It became apparent that the stiff obi cinching the waist was going to feature prominently in this collection. Then the first of many male outfits came out, and what an outfit: he was a scene-stealer in a pastel pink jacket and baby blue trousers (made of what I suspect to be taffeta), followed by another model who wore lavender trousers and a yellow cravat. I guess if Denny Wirawan is making unconventional dresses for unconventional brides, then the same philosophy applies to grooms as well!

Things took a turn for the familiar when the room was saturated with red lighting, the sounds of traditional Chinese musical instruments playing through the loudspeakers. This was a Chinese-inspired set with lots of cheongsam collars, but everything came with a 1920s flapper-girl twist, such as frills and intricate detailing.  It’s a combination that sounds strange in print, but it works! Some of the looks could may have even looked great on Maggie Cheung in Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love.

The fifth set may have been the most Indonesian of the bunch. You can really see where the Javanese kebaya influence kicks in, especially with the delicate cream kebaya. Even on the dress with the most occidental look to it – that is to say, the off-shoulder number that Kate Winslet could have worn on Titanic – you can still see that the white inside layer of her golden-hued outfit has been decorated with a batik print. I also really enjoyed the clash of cultures on the last dress of the set: a white batik-print kain paired with layers of rich tulle? Genius.

The last set of the evening was the most numerous in quantity, and the most dramatic to boot. It was heralded by half a dozen cute ballerinas and a walk down the aisle; I was almost certain they were going to release white doves while Etta James’ At Last played over the speakers (it didn’t happen, thank goodness). This collection to come out was the most “classic” in terms of colour scheme and silhouettes featuring lots of lace, tulle, ruffles, and mermaid dresses.

So like I said earlier, a total home run from Denny Wirawan! With plans for a show in Japan this year–with a completely different, brand new collection, no less!–it seems like he’s set to have an excellent run this year. What I found most exciting was how he managed to implement European, Chinese, and Indonesian influences into one collection–do you have any favourites? What did you enjoy the most?