Jakarta Fashion Week 2020: Sejauh Mata Memandang and Oscar Lawalata Culture

written by Allysha Nila
23rd October 2019
In Jakarta Fashion Week 2020, the Pesona Sisterhood show was a confusing indication as to what Indonesian fashion is today. Sejauh Mata Memandang and Oscar Lawalata, two unmistakably Indonesian brands supposedly of similar values, showed massive contrast. One presented hope and love, the other of tiredness and elitism.

Both the upper echelons and fashion newbies of Jakartan society know what Chitra Subyakto delivers. It’s likely that they’ve seen Sejauh Mata Memandang’s many large-scale exhibitions, or identified someone wearing one of its unmistakable designs. It’s easy on the eyes. For this collection, the fabrics were repetitive, but not with the way it was being presented.

Beside being a recognisable designer, Chitra is also brilliant at directing our attention to urgent issues in a loving way. This is the vernacular we all have to be speaking as we learn a thing or two from her collection’s narrative. It’s magical that a time where any philanthropic endeavour has become nauseating, because it’s a ubiquitous trend in fashion. But we can forgive and accept some of the naiveté that Chitra brings out.

This narrative is referring to the various themes that fall under climate change—most, if not all, of which she addressed: there was the obvious Extinction Rebellion symbols; masks (which have become a Jakartan staple with its notorious pollution); water bottle bags, bags embroidered with “Menolak Punah”, “Darurat Iklim”, “Cinta Laut”. Is Sejauh also making metal straw packs?

Sejauh is quintessentially an Indonesian brand that’s managed to be contemporary. The show opened and closed with the perfect casting and styling choice. One presented a woman proudly representing her roots, and the other embracing all the influences that come her way. Teens would love it; the white collar girls would love it; the ladies who brunch would love it; and even the top-level-management women love it too. 

To the next stage, a charismatic Reza Rahadian walked out in a discombobulating (and not to mention totally unflattering, ill-fitted) striped jumpsuit, followed by the lovely Asmara Abigail wearing a dress which disfigured her petite frame. It was a clear sign of impending doom: here was a magnetic actor looking like a prisoner and a beautiful model not being able to sell her look. It was shocking that this prelude passes as fashion.

But no amount of celebrity or personality tonight can take away from the fact that what Oscar Lawalata showed was little more than a smorgasbord of thoughtless outfits. Culture from Oscar Lawalata isn’t about fabrics—it’s an emphasis on the celebrities. His take is literally pop culture with a side of handicrafts.

The collection’s title ‘Aku dan Kain’ hinted something more meaningful than what was presented. That expectation is not unjustified: Oscar has been absent from the JFW schedule for five years, and his recent installation of the same title was nice to see. It’s only logical that his fashion show would be expected to match in quality and concept. This is not to discredit Oscar’s countless contributions to fashion, especially when it comes to textiles. Alas, not a single look made any of the stars shine.

Where was the story of the kain? There was interesting beading… but that was it. Oscar had few variations in silhouette, and he mentioned many designs were uncut because the fabrics were too precious—there are better mannequins, draped with whole fabrics, at Mayestik. This was an utter disappointment. Each look is an apocalyptic wave culminating as a depressing ocean of nothingness.

So thank god Reza Artamevia made her appearance singing her hit “Berharap Tak Berpisah” with Aaliyah Massaid. They redeemed, if not stole, the show. But unfortunately, some of us were expecting a stellar showcase of his talent but it wasn’t delivered.