From beach tie-dye fabrics in ice cream sorbet colors to regal, floor-sweeping dresses befitting royalty, Dian Pelangi’s ‘breakthrough’ fashion show underscored the young designer’s chameleon design capabilities.
Born and bred in Palembang, Dian instinctively reaches for the textiles that surrounded her growing up as the daughter of a fabric merchant: the handmade songket, batik and tenun once deemed sacred and worn only during ceremonies.
As a child, Dian and her father experimented with automated production processes that enabled these once-unwieldy textiles not only to be made into all manner of beautiful garments but for traditional legacy to prevail in the modern world.
The necessity to cover up in Islamic fashion sees designers go to town on outerwear and elaborate hems. Dian’s
collection of dazzling, high-collared blazers at her recent fashion show at Gandaria City’s Skenoo Exhibition Hall featured a patchwork-like assembly of batik cloth with songket, tempering the color-rich depictions of abstract flora with the understated shimmer of gold-thread brocades.
The blazers, which came in A-line, peplum and cropped hems, were worn over chiffon dresses with skirts nearly as voluminous as an eagle’s wingspan and in shades of orange, pink, purple, red, yellow and green so whole-hearted and bright that when the models demonstrated by flicking the billowing hems upon gaining the end of the runway, spectators exclaimed appreciatively.
The blazers’ turtleneck Nehru collars and waists were studded with gold beadwork, elongating the neck and adding to the regal look while visually cinching the waist.
Meanwhile, the shoulders were capped with raised Brazilian embroidery in the form of flower petals or gold tassels: bespeaking, as a whole, a painstaking attention to detail.
First to debut were, of course, Dian’s signature jumputan ( traditional tie-dyed cloth ) garments as part of her 2013 Sailorita collection, which, she told The Jakarta Post, would be their last run.
Primary colors fading to white cloth reigned in the form of long-sleeved cotton blouses worn with A-line skirts and harem pants, the folds of extra fabric serving to create a rippling effect that confers a feminine flourish where skin must not be shown. The headgear comprised tie-dyed scarves draped over the head and knotted at each end to look like pigtails, capped with white beribboned sailor hats.
The colors were even fresher in the children’s collection ‘ Dinda Pelangi ‘ the girls modeling knee-length striped and tie-dye dresses in salmon pink, periwinkle and lime-green over solid-color tights sported with ballet flats.
The boys, meanwhile, modeled button-downs and scarves awash with equally vivid hues of yellow, magenta and deep sky blue.
The abaya ( a loose-fitting ankle-length dress worn by Muslim women ) had its turn on the runway in bone-white silk patterned with peaches-and-cream tie-dyes; some with asymmetrical handkerchief hems so that the dress rippled on one side, others with ruffled inseams ‘ making creative use, in each instance, of the extra fabric required by orthodox Islam to add dimension.
The Ramadhan Rose collection, Dian explained, had been inspired by the autumn flowers she’d encountered on a recent trip to Paris and were worn with fat frosty-pink pearl necklaces.
One billowy number resembled a collared kimono ‘ without the wide sleeves ‘was tied at the front and splashed with geometric diamond shapes in peach and cotton candy-pink, paired with a floor-sweeping peach skirt.
Another model wore jumputan of the same sorbet colors in the form of an overcoat left unbuttoned so that it fanned out behind her when she walked. On the inside she wore a pastel-yellow peplum blouse with pastel-pink wide-leg pants, conferring a candy-sweet look on an outfit that must have felt as comfortable to wear as the caress of a summer breeze, as the rippling, loose fabric suggested.
Dian’s Haj collection played it safe, as orthodox would require, but the virginal white abaya, designed for those going on the pilgrimage to Mecca, featured a trim cut slightly flared at the waist that visually elongated the body, the wearer’s height notwithstanding, and curlicue embroidery about the hems and wrists.
The silk fabrics had yet more effortless swish and looked as if they might keep the wearer cool ‘ or at least absorb perspiration ‘ even under the blistering sun of Arabia while performing religious duties.
‘We chose fabrics that are comfortable, can absorb sweat and don’t wrinkle easily. Because muslimah [Muslim women] have a lot of activities and if their clothes crease they don’t look [tidy],’ Dian told The Jakarta Post.
The show’s chef d’oeuvre was undoubtedly Gallery Dian Pelangi, the home industry textiles brand Dian’s parents had operated since the year she was born.
The collection proved a crash course for the audience in the unprecedented marriage of batik with tenun lurik ( woven cloth ), songket and solid colors for the meeting of disparate textures. One abbreviated abaya, with a graduated asymmetrical hem that was longer on the right side, alternated between batik cloth of the same motif in two different colors: purple and aqua blue.
The panel of aqua blue fabric had been added in the form of an accordion pleat down the front of the abaya and the shoulders and collar bone were accented with gold beadwork. A red ankle-length skirt maintained modesty, as the kabaya hem, unusually, reached only knee-length.
Bright red merged with peacock blue without clash in the case of a double-collared jacket that shimmered all over with floral gold brocade. The jacket was layered over a matching baby blue blouse and H-line skirt stamped down the front with the same motif as the jacket, while peacock blue stones surrounded the turtleneck collar of the blouse.
‘Palembang is known mostly for its songket but it actually has its own batik. We wanted to show of ff batik from Palembang so that more people will know about it. We made clothes that are more gala and high-class because the designs are targeted at women of the upper-middle class,’ Dian explained of the entirely handmade collection.
‘The trademark of Palembang batik is its antique colors: there’s always a shot of red or dark green or dark blue.’