Fashion can be fun. It can be sexy or playful and glamorous at the same time. But most importantly, it can be political too. So far, local designers have shied away from incorporating any political and social message into their collections for fear of ruffling some feathers. Still, given the myriads of political and social events that Indonesians are currently experiencing (the forest fire and haze immediately pop into mind), perhaps it’s time to step out from the fashion pipe dream bubble and get some serious conversations rolling.
In Toton S/S 16 collection show note, designer Toton Januar expressed that he intends to explore foreign influences in Indonesian culture as well as “examines how they relate to one another and ultimately questions what we identify as authentic Indonesian traditions.” While the final outcome of the message on the runway wasn’t as clear as one would hope, Toton still managed to deliver one of the most exceptional collections in this year’s Jakarta Fashion Week so far.
The mixture of influences on the looks are coherent and clear – digital print of Batik Ayam Jago on wide-legged trousers, dragon scales motifs, Japanese karate-inspired top with embellished tulle sleeves and lace-up gladiator sandals. The collection also benefitted from exploration and re-interpretation of classic batik pattern. To wit, Toton deftly used cord-like salmon pink materials to form the famous interlocking circles on the skirt and paired them with pristine white kimono sleeve top.
The designer also cites his maternal grandmother as the jumping point for the collection and it showed. The collection was sensitive, strong, sensual, and intellectual all rolled into one. Toton has paid a loving and tender tribute not only to the most important woman in his life but also women in general.
The collaboration between Major Minor and the Indonesian artist, Eko Nugroho, is probably one of the most anticipated shows of the season. On one side, Major Minor is a local fashion label that is proud of its quirky and geometrically inspired clothing. While on the other hand, Eko Nugroho is one of the most celebrated Indonesian artists, where his works are often imbued with his critical views on Indonesian politics. And given Nugroho’s reputation, surely there must be, at least, an important note to take home from the show.
Or was it?
Major Minor dives into the sea in search for its collection’s inspiration. Seashells, starfish and anemones are embroidered onto pastel pink tulle dress and sheer long coat that split from the waist. On a sleeveless black V-neck dress, fish scales dripped down from both shoulders. Then all of those looks were awkwardly placed together along looks that featured Nugroho’s iconic cartoon images. Some of the latter were applied directly onto white skirt and oversized scarves, which are then draped and belted onto jackets.
It is saddening to see the dark, subversive and potent nature of Nugroho’s works being castrated and reduced to pretty little things. But none of that is more frustrating than the fact that there’s nothing important to say in this collection, not even an underlying message to be gleaned from. Clearly, both parties need to be pickier when selecting partner for future collaboration project. Bottom line, the collection is filled with minor hits and a major miss.