JFFF Awards Night: Weaving Tradition into Style

One of the pillar fashion events at the 2013 Jakarta Fashion and Food Festival was the presentation of the Fashion Icon Awards, which recognizes the achievements accomplished by luminaries in the Indonesian fashion scene. It was an evening full of pride and nostalgia, with awards handed out to figures who were pivotal to the local fashion industry.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to the great late Non Kawiliarang, a designer who established Indonesia’s first modeling agency. The award was received by her daughter, former  model Rima Melati, who manifested a quiet grace and dignity in a dress designed by her mother. “I miss her so much,” she revealed after choking back tears. “I hope she’s watching from above.”

The Design Award was presented by Veronica Basuki to designer Carmanita, who holds the distinction of styling a float at this year’s Pasadena Flower Festival. Overwhelmed, she took to the stage for her speech and started with, “I think I have no words except thank you.” She then expressed her desire to see others develop the industry of traditional textiles in Indonesia.

Finally, the Fashion Support Award was given to Jultin Kartasasmita, who penned the textile arts reading staple, Dunia Batik Seorang Jultin. Recognized by UNESCO for her part in keeping a scope of world heritage alive, she recognizes just how important the award is to her and and hopes to put more of her energy into keeping batik alive.

All three women were inspirational in their acts, speech, and manner; they’re the kind of ladies I want to be when I grow up! After the presentation of the awards, we were treated to a fashion show by designers who have been working closely with Cita Tenun Indonesia to develop the tenun industry in different parts of Indonesia and lurch them forward onto the catwalk by implementing the storied fabric into their designs. One part social responsibility and another part creative juices overflow, this is a great project that has helped individuals and entire communities get a leg up in their lives while giving designers something new to work with.

Sebastian Gunawan. Fresh and airy with a very Spring collection feel to it, Sebastian Gunawan’s collection, titled The Age of Innocence, is evocative of Biyan and Erdem. He implements tenun Garut into outfits that are contemporary and very wearable, successfully turning the idea of tenun being a stiff, uncompromising fabric on its head by using it in peplum dresses and sheer tops.

Priyo Oktaviano. What’s a Priyo Oktaviano show without high drama? This all-black collection featuring Balinese tenun was a stark contrast to Sebastian Gunawan’s cheerful set. Moody but not heavy.  I can easily see how this collection of separates can be translated to everyday wear when worn with dark, red, or blue solids to mute the prints. As always, the statement jewelry on all the models do a great job of bringing out the sharp lines in the outfits.

Ari Seputra. Colorful and uninhibited, the bold geometric prints of tenun Lombok gave Ari Seputra a great canvas to work with. My personal favorites are the all the outerwear for their versatility: even a boring t-shirt and jeans combo can be injected with so much pizzaz once you throw one of these over your shoulders.

Denny Wirawan. The fabric may have been sourced from home in the form of tenun weaved in Sulawesi Tenggara, but Denny Wirawan looked further north to the flat terrains of Central Asia for inspiration on style. The colorful tenun looked completely at home despite the very foreign design, fur trims and all! This just goes to show that tenun truly can be molded into anything, forever leaving behind the notion that it is a traditional Indonesian fabric meant to remain within the confines of traditional Indonesian wear.

Didi Budiarjo. Another clash of cultures as Didi Budiarjo sets his gaze upon our Asian neighbors for inspiration. This is probably the first time anyone has attempted contemporary reiterations of the Vietnamese ao dai and Indian sari out of tenun Sambas! Creative with just the right amount of serious and sass, this collection is very colorful with plenty of metallic accents.