Cover story: Indonesian designers in full flow in NY

Two of the five designers in the Indonesian Diversity show featured fashion designed specifically for the affluent, modern and religiously observant Muslim woman. Their designs were worn by models in hijabs.
Two of the five designers in the Indonesian Diversity show featured fashion designed specifically for the affluent, modern and religiously observant Muslim woman. Their designs were worn by models in hijabs.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • The hijab and abaya took centre stage on the New York runway as up-and-coming Indonesian designers kicked off an increasingly diverse fashion week, hoping to change prejudices in the West.

"We're not oppressed, and we just want to show the world that we can still be beautiful and stylish with our hijab on," designer Dian Pelangi, 26, said on Thursday. She has 4.8 million followers on Instagram.

She was one of five Indonesian luxury ready-to-wear designers, joined by an accessories designer, who presented collections at the Indonesian Diversity show - held opposite a special needs school in Chelsea on the first day of fashion week.

Two of the five designers fell into the "modest fashion" category - in this instance, fashion designed specifically for the affluent, modern and religiously observant Muslim woman - and featured models, all of whom covered their hair with Islamic-style headscarves.

Ms Dian was one designer, Ms Vivi Zubedi, 30, the other. Making her New York fashion week debut, Ms Vivi felt moved to come partly because of United States President Donald Trump, who has sought to restrict immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries.

"Mr President, I love your country and also I love your people, and we will not (do) anything to you or your people. We are all the same, it's about humanity," the Jakarta-based designer said, overcome with emotion.

Instead of the usual stick-thin, white model types, the front row featured guests dressed to the nines in hijabs and carrying Chanel bags, black women dressed to accentuate their curves, Latinas, as well as guests from across Asia and the Middle East.

Ms Dian's elegant collection was a riot of colourful Indonesian materials, batik prints and tie-dye - covering women from head to toe in full skirts, wide pants, loose-fitting jackets and rich brocade.

SMASHING MISCONCEPTIONS

We're not oppressed, and we just want to show the world that we can still be beautiful and stylish with our hijab on.

INDONESIAN DESIGNER DIAN PELANGI, 26, on changing prejudices about the hijab.

Ms Vivi's look was even more conservative, with her signature abaya - the loose, flowing head-to-toe black garment obligatory in Saudi Arabia and adopted by strictly observant Muslim women in other countries.

MESSAGE TO TRUMP

Mr President, I love your country and also I love your people, and we will not (do) anything to you or your people. We are all the same, it's about humanity.

MS VIVI ZUBEDI, another Indonesian designer, on US President Donald Trump's travel ban.

Thursday's event comes a year after Indonesia's Anniesa Hasibuan broke new ground by staging the first New York runway show featuring models all wearing the hijab.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2017, with the headline 'Cover story: Indonesian designers in full flow in NY'. Print Edition | Subscribe