Laurencia Irena’s World of Frills, Ruffles and Bows

by Hilda Nathalia Raina
12th July 2023
Through layers and voluminous silhouettes, Laurencia Irena’s unabashedly feminine designs ignite a sense of play, transforming personal experiences into easy-to-style, wearable memories.

Laurencia Irena’s designs are unabashedly feminine. Frills, ruffles, and bows animate her pieces, recurring features that aren’t merely present, but engage the dialogues and constructs of femininity. Next to her attention-grabbing designs, her personality, in contrast, is much more reserved. A woman of few words, Laurencia is happy to have her clothes do most of the talking for her. 

She greeted us at the glass door entrance of the studio slash showroom in Gunung Sahari, Central Jakarta, her steps bouncy in the white ruffled Sweetheart dress (her favourite, she exclaimed), a loose-fit black blazer and clunky clogs edged in bows and ruffles—one of her latest collaborations with local footwear brand, Made to Wonder (MTW).

“I’m used to people saying I dress a little over the top,” the fashion designer admitted with a little laugh. “It doesn’t really bother me though. I like layering, and I enjoy dressing up a lot.” This spirit clearly manifests itself in her namesake brand, as she puts out pieces that awaken the little girls within her customers while demanding quiet confidence for them to make each look their own. 

Started with a series of printed pouches and masks during the pandemic, the brand has now grown to carry variations of signature pieces such as textured bralettes, cut-out blazers, ruched skirts, and abstract balloon-shaped dresses, with stockists including multi-brand retail shops like the Japanese-hailed Lumine, Empty in Seoul, Korea, and Taiwan-based Gem Boutique. 

“I’m used to people saying I dress a little over the top. It doesn’t really bother me though. I like layering, and I enjoy dressing up a lot.”

In deep shades of pink, red and black, pieces from her Autumn/Winter 2023 collection are neatly hung across the racks. “I tried to incorporate my Chinese-Indo heritage into this one”, Laurencia shared as she pointed out the cheongsam (traditional Chinese garment) influences: the figure-fitting silhouette, mandarin collar, embroidered silk, and side slits. 

“There are elements of the cheongsam that remind me of lingerie,” explained the 26-year-old. Merging the two, silk bralettes are trimmed with lace ruffles, tiered dresses gather at the bust and waist to form a Chinese lantern-like silhouette, off-shoulder dresses feature two slits, exaggerated and stretched to the hips while attached by dainty bows, and tailored suits feature a subtle peplum, soft-edged to match the rounded lapels. 

“I’ve always been drawn to puffy, voluminous silhouettes. When I was young, I would spend a lot of time drawing wedding dresses, the Cinderella ball gown type,” she shared. Other childhood pastimes—like throwing herself into pages of manga and religiously watching anime—also trickle down to her designs today. 

“What caught my attention are the animations and drawings—they’re always so intricate, almost fantasy-like. It really showed me how much detail goes into a garment, and how even the slightest bit of movement, layer, and volume can transform its shape,” she shared. Her fascination with Japanese subcultures eventually led her to study the language in Tokyo, before diving into a design degree at Istituto Marangoni in London, where she observed and admired the way people freely express themselves through clothes. 

“When I returned to Jakarta, I thought to myself, ‘Ah, I have to wear t-shirts again. But I guess that’s what I want to do with the brand—create something that is intimate yet still practical enough to be worn here. A lot of the pieces are actually designed for easy style and layering.” 

“I’ve always been drawn to puffy, voluminous silhouettes. When I was young, I would spend a lot of time drawing wedding dresses, the Cinderella ball gown type.”

Imbued with a certain softness and characteristically delicate sensibility, Laurencia’s subject matters have always been personal, though sometimes random, almost as if she throws a net to a sea of past memories, waiting to see which ones stand out. 

Her Spring/Summer 2022 collection “Rainy Blossoms” included roomy frocks shaped to resemble an open umbrella paired with raindrops-embellished socks, fleshing out her memories of the rainy season when she studied in Japan. Currently, she’s working on a collection revolving around eggs. “I love eggs!” gushed the avid tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelette) eater. “When my mother was pregnant with me, she would eat 10 eggs a day, maybe that’s why,” she laughed shyly. 

Favouring to do things by hand, she traces most of her design process back to tactile techniques such as draping and experimenting with shapes and silhouettes through fabric manipulation. “There’s something about playing around with fabric. From a one-dimensional sheet, you can turn it into so many different shapes and textures. It goes back to my attachment to volumes and looking for new ways to achieve it.” 

Now overseeing a team of five, Laurencia still handles the studio production and design process—from pattern-making and sewing to handling online and custom orders. With no business background, she admitted it was quite the challenge, but one that she embraces with determined efficiency. “Every collection or order we have come in, I’ll make a detailed timeline of when things need to get done,” she shared with a resolute tone. 

Within her three-story studio, invoices and orders are logged and tucked away in designated folders. Samples are neatly hung and organised by collection. More than a means to allow her to keep track of everything, her organised schedule also allows her to slot out travel times, which she reserves for music festivals mainly in England. Her go-to are the Reading Festival and Victorious Festival in Portsmouth. “Contrary to what you see me wear, I actually love listening to indie rock!” 

“Naturally, I think being in environments like England and Japan, where you get to be exposed to so much more art and design at a faster pace, it’s easier to find new things to be excited about. But regardless, I would say I’m easily inspired, even through the little things. It’s in the day-to-day that I see possibilities of shape and textures that I immediately think of applying to clothes. What’s next is about trying and seeing what works,” said Laurencia.