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Batiks & Bodices: Fashion on the Festival Indonesia runway

IT was batik on the runway at the annual Wonders of Indonesia fashion competition. Carene Chong marvels at the blend of old and new designs and catches up with the winning designer, Hardinata Tjoa.

Hardinata Tjoa (centre), winner of the "Wonders of Indonesia" fashion design contest posing with the panel of judges. Photo: Geraldi Tellys

It was a normal week night for most, but for Hardinata Tjoa, or simply Hardi, it was a night to remember.

After months of hard work and preparation, his creation was crowned first place in the Wonders of Indonesia fashion competition, held in Melbourne as part of last week’s Festival Indonesia celebrations.

His prize was an all-expenses paid trip to Jakarta for the city’s Fashion Week, on later this year.

“I didn’t expect to win, to be honest,” Hardi says.

“This is my second year participating in the Festival Indonesia design competition and I only viewed it as another opportunity to develop myself as a fashion designer because they have different themes and challenges each year.”

This year’s challenge was for participants to incorporate the Batik Encim, a traditional Indonesian patterned fabric, into their designs.

Hardi explaining his design to the judges. Photo: Geraldi Tellys

Hardi’s winning interpretation was an eye-catching fuchsia reversible jacket with batik lining and matching pants. He completed the look with a batik high neck top. The outfit – dubbed by Hardi as ‘Internal Affairs’ – was inspired by Indonesian feminist R.A Kartini.

“She was an inspirational woman in the early 1900s who wanted to instigate independence while maintaining her traditional values and beliefs,” Hardi says.

Hardi captured Kartini’s spirit by incorporating both modern and traditional elements in his design, while the angled hem and collar on the jacket reflected traditional Indonesian architecture.

The judging panel observing one of the contestants' creations. Photo: Wan Shing

Melbourne Institute of Fine Arts director Bryan Collie was a judge on the night and says it was the wearability and versatility of Hardi’s piece that ultimately won them all over.

“When the model walked out with his design, I thought, ‘Wow, now this is a statement making piece!’,” he says.

“It’s a garment you can easily wear and have a little bit of fun with, and it also has a contemporary edge, which I thought was very important.”

But Hardi wasn’t the only person who went home with a prize that night. Juli Panto Kesuma took runner up with his figure flattering batik top with peplum and cut out details, matched with a draping floor-length skirt.

Runner up Juli Panto Kesuma and his creation. Photo: Wan Shing

Jenny Layton, judge and director of Melbourne clothing line The Ark, says she was impressed by the amount of effort all the contestants put into their creations.

“When you saw some of the designs, you could see the influences and research that went into them,” she says.

“We like that little bit of research and little bit of logic behind the designs, which can both restrict your designs in one way, but can also give you an edge.”

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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