Rinaldy A. Yunardi
IN FEBRUARY, Katy Perry released the music video for Chained to the Rhythm, lead single to her fifth album Witness. While the world was moved by the political subtext of the song, the big release signified a new milestone for Rinaldy A Yunardi.
The video, which garnered close to 350 million views on Youtube, features Rinaldy’s custom shoes for Perry. The designer created a pair of transparent ankle boots, with silver accents, for the pop superstar. In the video, Perry wears them with a structural white dress that complements her cotton candy-coloured bob.
Rinaldy had only 11 days to design the shoes, and three to have them produced. The designer enthuses that having his design worn by Perry is “one of the biggest achievements in my career”. His career has spanned 21 years, starting from his autodidact days after graduating from high school.
“I chose not to go to college. I was working a white-collar job after graduation, but in my spare time I started learning to make accessories. Back then, there was no Google or Youtube tutorials. I only had cuttings from fashion magazines as my guideline,” Rinaldy says.
He started experimenting on a simple tiara with basic materials – acrylic, wire, paint, glue, crystal, bead, needle and thread. A determined personality, Rinaldy successfully made his first tiara after a few failed attempts.
“I never dreamed to of being a designer, but I had a vision of what I wanted to create. My vision guided me to be where I am today,” he says.
Perry is not the only A-lister who has been seen in Rinaldy’s creations. Nicki Minaj wears his caged mask in her music video, No Frauds. The gold showpiece received an overwhelmingly positive response, moreover, after the singer posted it on her Instagram page. Besides, Zoe Saldana wears Rinaldy’s one of statuesque headpieces in her cover shoot for California’s C Magazine. However, the designer stays humble.
“I think headpieces are such a statement, ones that are worn at shows and style shoots. Since they are usually worn by public figures, they are easier to get media buzz. The buzz helps me get more customers,” Rinaldy says.
The designer adds that his international ventures would not have happened if it were not for his agent, who happens to be a close friend, Faye Liu. Through her Hong Kong-based brand and image agency, The Clique, Liu has linked Rinaldy with international stars and their fashion teams.
“It all started when Faye asked me in a casual conversation of my next step as a designer,” Rinaldy reminisces. “I told her it would be nice to have international stars wearing my designs. At first, I really wanted Aaron Kwok to wear my designs, because I have always been a big fan. It came true, and the feeling I had was just priceless. From then, we approached more stars, and thankfully, the response has been great.”
Rinaldy has 40 people in his team, most working in his workshop and some others handling administrative work. Surprisingly, none of his employees were trained craftsmen when they first joined. “I trained them all from zero. I want them to really understand my brand identity. If I hired professional craftsmen, they might have already developed a specific sense of taste that it might be hard to shape them,” Rinaldy, who always dresses in all-black, reasons. “The intensive training also acts as a selection process. Those with perseverance and a good work ethic will stay on.”
Results of the intensive training can be seen at his North Jakarta atelier. The Goth-style interior that welcomes guests when they enter is filled with racks and racks of extravagant headpieces, body accessories and jewellery that Rinaldy’s team has produced. It is almost like going into a boudoir filled with glamorous guises that could transform just about any look.
Such an extensive portfolio has been built from
the many customers Rinaldy has gained over years, as well as the long list of fashion shows he has supported. As an accessories designer, Rinaldy realises that his creations are meant to complement outfits. Hence, his willingness to support fashion designers, namely Biyan, Didi Budiardjo, Sebastian Gunawan, Adrian Gan and Era Soekamto. For their annual fashion shows, Rinaldy has custom-made headpieces and accessories.
“I’m always happy to support my designer friends. It feels great to see how my creations complement their creations. Also, working with them challenges me as a designer. On one hand, I have to follow another designer’s ideology, on the other hand my skills are stretched because there are always different requirements for each collection, each show. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me learning,” Rinaldy says.
December 13 is the date of Rinaldy’s upcoming solo show. To take place at the ballroom of RitzCarlton Jakarta Pacific Place, it will be his first in 15 years. “I have the big idea in my mind. But I have had little time to work on it,” Rinaldy grins. “So many projects going on at the moment that I barely have time to work on my own show.”
Asked about his long-term dreams, Rinaldy says that one of them is opening a museum that documents Indonesian fashion history. “Our industry has gone quite a long way. In the nineties, customers wouldn’t be proud if they were wearing Indonesian designers. What was considered cool was wearing international designers. But these days, Indonesian designers have slowly gotten the recognition they deserve. They continue growing, and their customers have a newfound appreciation for them,” Rinaldy says. “I think such a rich history deserves to be told and preserved. Otherwise, the younger generations would be clueless about it.”