Indonesian Designer to the Stars Offers a Peek Into His ‘Secret Garden’
Singer Syahrini, the former duet partner of Anang Hermansyah, stood before her audience at a fashion show in Jakarta, looking dainty in a pink cocktail dress with lace, ribbon and a long train of soft tulle.
“She’s my beautiful princess; she’s my muse,” said Indonesian fashion designer Hengki Kawilarang, who designed the dress and was about to hold his solo show as part of Jakarta Fashion and Food Festival.
Syahrini performed her latest single, “Semua Karena Cinta” (“It’s All Because of Love”), to open the event before stepping off the stage and joining her younger sister in the front row of the audience.
Models then took the spotlight, walking down the catwalk in cocktail dresses, evening wear and bridal gowns inspired by the women in Hengki’s life.
The fashion show, on May 21 at the grand ballroom of Harris Hotel and Conventions in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, was themed “Secret Garden.”
“Women are all around me,” Hengki said. “My mother, staff, friends and clients. Each of them are unique and beautiful. Each of them have secrets.”
The designer tried to portray the models as flowers and trees in a garden. “They’re delicate but strong,” he said.
Since establishing his own self-titled label a decade ago, Hengki has specialized in dressing Indonesian celebrities.
“I think it’s a smart business move that brings him more clients,” said Taruna K. Kusmayadi, chairman of the Indonesian Fashion Designers Association (APPMI).
Hengki acknowledged that he has received more clients since helping to craft Syahrini’s stage appearance.
Most of his female clients want to look “just like Syahrini,” he said.
In the first sequence, Hengki presented chic cocktail dresses in neutral colors, simple silhouettes and discrete applications of lace and ribbon. Among them was a two-tiered broken-white cocktail dress that wowed the audience with lace and a silver sash at the waist.
The next sequence oozed with glamour. With a video-art background of falling autumn leaves, the models walked down the catwalk in elaborate evening gowns and equally adorned stilettos.
One model in a long sequined silver dress brought to life the White Queen from “Alice in Wonderland.” Another wore a sea-green gown with feathers, a chain of crystals and bold embroidery. It featured tulle and lace on the bodice, and delicate layers of chiffon and silk satin on the skirt.
“They’re romantic fabrics,” Hengki said. “They hug and caress a woman’s feminine curves.”
Electro-pop girl band 7icons appeared at the end of the sequence, singing the single “Bidadari.” The group, honored by Indonesian music television show “Dahsyat” last year with an award for best performance, wore white short dresses by the designer.
“They should look glamorous, as well as young and fun,” Hengki said.
The final sequence of the show featured bridal gowns that combined Western fashion and the style of kebayas, a traditional Indonesian dress.
“The couples that come to me are usually of mixed races and nationalities,” Hengki said. “So they want an Indonesian taste with an international look.”
The wedding dresses were in classic white and soft pastel colors. Indonesian model Dominique Agisca Diyose looked stunning as she walked the catwalk in a dusty pink dress with silver roses along the bodice and ribbons crisscrossing semi-transparent long sleeves.
When Hengki designs for celebrities, he works with them to come up with something that fits their tastes. “They usually come to me with an idea,” he said.
The celebrities, their managers and Hengki often spend hours discussing the idea, and then Hengki takes a couple days to sketch out some options.
“It’s really important to understand the artist’s public image and be able to present it in an outfit,” he said.
When the designer went on stage with the models at the end, Syahrini congratulated him with a bouquet of lowers.
“Clients are more than customers for me,” Hengki said. “They’re also my friends and my source of inspiration.”
Hengki Kawilarang Boutique
Jl. Tebet Barat Raya No. 24