Indonesian designers breathe life into 'tenun' fabrics

(Top) Indonesian textile on display at a shopping mall in Jakarta's Block M business district. Local designers are now experimenting with handwoven `tenun' fabrics and turning them into something more wearable. (Above) Balinese dancers wearing traditional `kain sarung' take part in the Bali Art Festival parade in Denpasar. Pictures: Wikipedia, EPA

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

THE colourful shades and alluring motifs of traditional fabrics have attracted three prominent designers to turn the materials into a series of modern pieces for both men and women.

It seems like Indonesian designers can't do enough to incorporate the country's handwoven "tenun" fabrics into their collections.

From east to west, they keep on mining the rich culture and heritage of one region after another, experimenting with traditional textiles, combining them with "modern" fabrics then turning them into something more wearable for fashion lovers today.

Three prominent Indonesian designers Stephanus Hamy, Didi Budiardjo and Adrian Gan have taken inspiration from traditional textiles from several regions and put them into their collections.

Stephanus used handwoven "tenun" fabric from Jambi and Balinese songket cloth, handwoven with silver and gold, for his first line, Hamy Culture, on display at a show titled "Jambi to Bali" at the recent Jakarta Fashion and Food Festival.

The combination of the lively colours of the Jambi fabrics and the great skill of the designer resulted in a collection infused with elegance.

Hamy was still in favour of playing with obi, be they plain or studded, to enhance the overall look. A red skirt, for instance, was paired with a dark blue top, a dark blue obi, a Nehru jacket and blue stockings.

Hamy's signature pleated dresses were seen on stage teamed up with an obi and jacket. He also offered menswear by simply combining tenun shirts with tailored pants.

While Hamy opted for Jambi and Bali fabrics, Didi was fond with the beauty of textiles from Sambas, West Kalimantan.

His fascination with the region's fabrics started when he visited Sambas at the invitation of Cita Tenun Indonesia (CTI), which supports and preserves Indonesia's traditional handwoven textiles and assists traditional weavers.

The region, Didi said, was influenced by Islamic and Chinese culture. Sambas, situated at the junction the Teberau and Sambas Rivers, used to be a trading centre for an old Islamic kingdom, while a Chinese community have been in the area since the 18th century.

"Roses represent the Chinese element, while the influence of Islamic culture can be seen in the geometric patterns," Didi said.

"The people of Sambas tend to incorporate things from their surroundings into their textiles. They are, for instance, inspired by water plants as well as horn bills."

He said it was quite challenging for a designer from outside the region to incorporate its fabrics into a collection.

Didi also explored materials from other regions such as Padang in West Sumatra, Palembang in South Sumatra and Lombok, combining traditional textiles with fabrics such as silk organza, taffeta, cotton, brocade, zibeline, duchesse satin, pique cotton and lame matelasse.

He turned the exotic fabrics into a number of retro-style sack dresses in green and yellow that evoked Yves Saint Laurent's famous Mondrian day dress from the 1960s, made of wool jersey in colour blocks of black, white, blue, red and yellows.

The sack dresses be they length sleeves, length sleeves, or sleeveless were layered with jackets in attractive floral motifs and even paired with printed stockings.

Shocking-coloured tenun appeared in the form of loose dresses with pagoda or kimono sleeves.

Didi collaborated with renowned jewellery designer Rinaldy A Yuniardi to give a more ethnic touch to the whole look with various hairpins, some of which were made of buffalo bone or even turtle bone from Flores in East Nusa Tenggara.

The hairpins, Didi explained, reflected the journey from one island to another. He also included some big bangles, inspired by Palembang's arm bands.

Adrian Gan closed the fashion week with his women's wear collection, made of ikat from East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

In a show themed Patola Kamba Menandang, which means something sacred kept in cotton and made into a beautiful cloth, Adrian avoided cutting the fabric to maintain its original patterns and motifs.

He smartly used draping techniques to transform them into fabulous yet modern pieces.

For people in NTT, he added, traditional fabrics not only cover bodies but also have meaning, philosophy and even a touch of magic in their patterns and colours.

He contrasted the textiles with softer materials such as gazar, organza and tie-dyed fabrics.

Applications and ornaments such as gemstones, acrylic plastics, feathers and frills adorned the outfits.

Adrian crafted the fabrics into several barrel shape style dresses, as well as floor-sweeping evening gowns featuring a breath-taking futuristic look.

The outfits were well-crafted in an artistic manner, boasting enchanting and exquisite designs.

Jakarta Post/ANN


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