Occupying the space between fantasy and reality, at the centre of fashion label Peggy Hartanto’s creations is the female body: What is it? What are the roles it embodies? Who does it dress for? Grounded in a sense of play and an exacting eye to the craft, for the past decade, the three sisters behind the brand, Peggy, Petty and Lydia Hartanto have simultaneously grounded the brand in these values while expanding its narrative and influence to a global audience.
In celebration of the brand’s 10th anniversary, Peggy Hartanto weaves this narrative into “Synthesis”, an interactive exhibition curated by Jo Elaine that runs until 28 September 2023. Held in Orasis Art Space in their hometown Surabaya, the exhibition unfolds like a walk in a maze, embracing the architecture’s flow and curves to narrate key themes and pieces from the brand’s past works.
Opens to a narrow pathway, Synthesis begins with a brief introduction of the brand as visitors (many of whom were seen donning earlier looks as tribute) get to read its milestones over the past 10 years; from its inception in 2012, establishing international showrooms, co-founding multi-label concept store ARA in South Jakarta, opening its HQ in Surabaya amidst the pandemic, to launching Peggy Hartanto Petite in 2023.
Accompanied by ambient sonic sounds, the path leads to the main exhibition room, past a giant tree lined with the brand’s signature leaf patterns by Surabaya-based design studio Sciencewerk. Sunlight filters through inside to softly illuminate the wall of sketches and pieces from past collections. Displayed in chronological order, the exhibit takes visitors through the Anther Dress from the ‘Unseen’ S/S 2023 collection that debuted in Jakarta Fashion Week, setting the brand’s tone of femininity through the billowy satin skirt and tulle cut-outs, to the most recent S/S 2023 ‘Fantasia’, as represented by the Philharmonic Gown, where the brand’s signature scalloped edges appear in metallic green and white panels that are cut and sewn by hand.
Executed through precise fit and tailoring, innovative fabric manipulation techniques and sculptural experimentation, the pieces invite visitors into the design and creative process of the team as they conjure looks for women who want to dress simply yet not quietly. Looking at the collections in one room, one almost wishes there were more to see. But the feeling soon dissolves as one heads to the pop-up cafe and outdoor area where treats and a capsule collection specially made for the exhibition await. “We have always aspired to create a complete Peggy Hartanto experience that extends beyond clothing. The immersive exhibition offers a different experience day and night, integrating visuals, music, forest scent, and also exclusive treats inspired by the brand,” shared Managing Director Lydia Hartanto.
The sense of enchantment continues into the back garden, where thousands of thin broomsticks form fuchsia ‘shrubs’ lining the curved path. Against this backdrop, talk shows with the Hartanto sisters and fellow creatives and collaborators are spread across the exhibition. “Our concept revolves around crafting an experience that evokes the comforting familiarity of a garden and plant. The goal for us is to strike a balance between showcasing the technical details of Peggy Hartanto through fashion techniques and emphasise the most important part, “imagination”,” explained Danis Sie of Sciencewerk on the exhibition design.
Over the past decade, fashion trends have come and gone, and brands have raced to adapt to the industry’s fast-changing landscape. Amidst all this, Peggy Hartanto’s ability to stay grounded in its vision to reinterpret fashion for modern women is both a rarity and a testament to the brand and the all-women team behind it—a sentiment that feels especially pronounced when seen in full, stretched across the past decade.
As much as the exhibition serves as a reflection of the past, it also signals a new season for the Peggy Hartanto brand. If one pays close attention, symbols of a 3-leaf clover developed by Bandung-based studio NUSAE can be seen throughout the exhibition, from the entrance display, along the pathway, and even stamped on coffee cups, reflecting the three sisters coming together while also hinting at visitors of the brand’s rebranding and what lies ahead.
Peggy Hartanto: Synthesis runs until 28 September at Orasis Art Space, Surabaya. For more details and booking information, click here.