It’s a bizarre feeling to be attending the fashion shows of Plaza Indonesia Mens Fashion Week when just a few kilometres away, thousands of students were joining forces to reject the problematic and controversial draft of the criminal code, among the many protests directed at the government. It’s like being occupied on your mobile game while the firemen are working hard to put out the fire in your house. But of course, the event was planned way before anyone could predict such a scenario. And so, the shows must go on despite the disquieting air.
On paper, MORAL‘s collection that claims to be a study on the relationship between control and chaos sounds stimulating. Alas, the application of that concept onto the clothes themselves was wanting to be. It is simply too abstract and designer Andandika Surasetja has too many ideas that didn’t gel together, resulting in an inconsistent collection. The highlight seems to be on the particular fabric with leaf motifs because they were repeated on a handful of pieces – boxy blazers, high-waisted pants, shorts and half-zip jackets with drop shoulders.
But as arresting as those pieces are, they were at odds with the rest of the collection, where some models came out in frayed tops that appear to be inspired by the clothing of a Japanese peasant. It also didn’t help that the styling was confusing (studded body harness and rope belt) and at times, just pure random (hanging plant as accessories). The moral of the story here is too much chaos and too little control.
Amot Syamsuri Muda‘s show was fun to watch because the designer didn’t try too hard and the vibe was in line with his eponymous label. While in the past, Amot had sent out collections that the mainstream audience may find too queer, here he made it general enough for anyone to adopt. The tie-dye shirts and monogram sportswear immediately come to mind. But there’s also something for his ardent fans to obsess over, like outerwear with big pockets, especially the one in neon lime green. All the better for them to stash their chapstick, condoms, poppers and what have you, during a night out in the club.
Still, the collection could use some editing. For example, the rainbow-coloured crochet top looked out of place. That being said, the show demonstrated that sometimes the best way to protest against the oppressive regime is to simply celebrate one’s identity proudly.
At the beginning of Wilsen Willim‘s show, a few models walked onto the runway looking at their phones. Checking for new likes? Scrolling for the latest tweets? But to give them the benefit of the doubt, let’s just say they were forwarding important emails. Not that the gesture is necessary to drive home the point that the men of Wilsen Willim, in their tailored attire, mean business.
Although at times you see a flashback of Yohji Yamamoto, the collection flowed well from day to evening. The versatility of the clothes is evident in the way that one can dress it up or down. Tuck out the shirt and throw on a trucker cap and what used to look semi-formal is immediately transformed into streetwear uniform. Plus, the loose silhouette and soft colours in seafoam green and sorbet pink are composed. These men looked like they were actually going somewhere. The only thing that you wish the designer would do without is the bustier-looking wide waist belts, fashioned from the lower half of a jacket, that do nothing but distract from the clothes.
Dana Maulana and Liza Masitha of Danjyo Hiyoji certainly know how to put on a show. But more on that later. When clips of fighter planes dropping bombs and soldiers firing bullets were shown on the screen, it makes you wonder if they are glorifying war and violence with this collection given the happenings on the street. Then models strolled out in looks with elements of tactical uniform – sweaters in camo prints, jackets with built-in parachute harness and cadet patches slapped liberally across the body and bags.
The result is a collection that embodies the moving naiveté of a young boy who idolises the heroism of soldiers in battlefields. But with the world rocked by the harrowing news such as children forcefully separated from their parents at the US border and protesters attacked by the police in Hong Kong, it begs the question: Is this the right time to do this? Dana and Liza were no doubt considering their inspiration in isolation of contexts. Still, it’s a little too soon and out of touch with reality.
As with the tradition of Danjo Hiyoji, the audience was treated to a spirited performance show by Paskibra (or “Flag Hoisting Troop”) SMK Kal-2. It was entertaining for sure, but the designers risked having their clothes outshined by the performance.
This year, Plaza Indonesia Mens Fashion Week pushed for an emphasis on sustainability. To wit, Tencel (a brand name for a branded lyocell fabric by the Austrian company Lenzing AG) supported a handful of labels like MORAL and Wilsen Willim. In spite of that, the event felt like an elaborate marketing tool for these corporate brands. At the end of the final designers’ parade, confetti and glitter were launched. Are those made out of biodegradable materials? Don’t bet your money on it.