Each year, debutantes from aristocratic and upper-class families gather at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris to be introduced to high society in the celebrated Bal Crillon des Debutantes. This year saw another kind of debut.
Only 25 years old, Indonesian fashion designer Didit Hediprasetyo presented his first show in the public salons of the legendary hotel. Numerous celebrities and clients, including Anggun and actress Anna Sherbinina, saw a new star emerge in the world of Paris fashion.
Fashion has always been his way of “capturing one’s moment of truth, not of creating tools to fake confidence or to conceal one’s flaws with.”
“My inspiration has always been the woman who is brave enough to accept her insecurities,” he says. “She never tries to hide them or to fake a smile. She is honest about her imperfections and accepting of the present moment. She dares to stand alone on any occasion.”
The silhouettes Hediprasetyo created with his corseted gowns and fitted skirts and shorts placed an emphasis on cinched waists and beanpole legs. For him, the human physique is indeed the loveliest work of art, especially the feminine figure.
An admirer of the dramatic and radical Diana Vreeland, Hediprasetyo uses colors sparingly to invoke an image of maturity, modernity and refinement while adding touches of gold, lilac and cream to maintain an aura of femininity.
He has also experimented with precise and structured shapes ornamented with soft folds, ruffles and flowing threads, bringing together inner strength and palpable grace. “I try to portray the idea of natural elegance by incorporating feminine embellishments and simplicity,” he says.
Hediprasetyo reveals that the inspiration for his spring/summer 2010 collection comes from the textures and landscapes of his home country of Indonesia. Finding himself in Bali one day, he stood on a cliff overlooking the ocean when he was suddenly stirred by many conflicting emotions.
“That scene inspired me greatly,” he says. “It was somewhere between a dry desert and an ocean, and the emotion I felt was a combination of desperation and serenity. So for this collection, I wanted to create the image of a lady trapped in an arid state of boredom and ready to escape through the textures of nature.”
Bringing the cultural heritage of Indonesia to the international scene, Hediprasetyo has taken the ethnic hand-woven kain songket from Palembang and incorporated the gilded fabric into his glamorous couture gowns, demonstrating his creativity and his ateliers’ impressive expertise.
His couture collection is available by order only. Appointments can be made at his ateliers in Jakarta or Paris, where measurements are taken and the dresses exclusively personalized and made by hand —like real couture should be. Basic patterns and drapes are finished in his Paris atelier while embellishments and finishing touches were done in Jakarta.
Born and raised in Indonesia, Hediprasetyo studied at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York before moving to its Paris campus a year later. He returned to Jakarta five years after earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree to prepare a portfolio with which he planned on applying for positions in Paris or London.
“But the dresses I made ended up getting sold out, so I had to make a new portfolio,” he says. “I enjoyed the work though, so much so that two years passed and I thought that it would be a pity if I don’t properly present them on the runway. It was then that I decided to start my own line.”
His work has also been well received by the international fashion scene. Critics who attended his show at Hôtel de Crillon lauded him as being the very picture of a sophisticated world citizen.
Hediprasetyo concurs, saying, “When it comes to my identity, I am Indonesian. But my vision comes from all the different places I’ve lived in, different beliefs that I’ve learned and different people that I’ve met from many parts of the world.”
Drawing on the exotic cultural treasures of his home country, he could create fashion that appealed to his young, urban and international clientele. Such acumen is the key to success in this increasingly globalised world.
“What I’ve learned is that everyone from everywhere is searching for the same thing: happiness. And I think art is here to support and express that.” He also hopes that, in the future, the Indonesian fashion industry will start catering more to the international scene. “So they can bring with them all the good values that we have as Indonesians. Other cultures can learn so much from us.”
With Hediprasetyo paving the way, new designers need only to follow his lead.