Ghea Pang­gabean

In­done­sian fash­ion goes ‘haute cou­ture’

The Jakarta Post - JPlus - - News - + Se­bas­tian Par­togi

The United King­dom was where Ghea Pang­gabean went to univer­sity, so she says that the coun­try will al­ways have a spe­cial place in her heart. The ac­claimed lo­cal de­signer said that she was ec­static when asked to join the re­cent UK Art and Cul­tural Trip to pro­mote In­done­sia’s rich his­tory of cul­tural prod­ucts. A grad­u­ate of Lu­cie Clay­ton Col­lege in Lon­don, Ghea has a style that fuses Eastern and Western in­flu­ences, cre­at­ing tex­tiles that are in­spired by In­done­sian fab­rics while evinc­ing con­tem­po­rary touches. A main­stay of the In­done­sian fash­ion scene for more than three decades, Ghea, also a well-known ce­ramic de­signer, is most fa­mous for her batik and wo­ven fab­rics, in­clud­ing her sig­na­ture jumputan (tie dye) pieces. Hav­ing par­tic­i­pated in shows in Mi­lan and Cannes, Ghea has seen her col­lec­tions reg­u­larly ap­pear at Jakarta Fash­ion Week, Kuala Lumpur Fash­ion Week and at luxury depart­ment stores in Jakarta, in­clud­ing Ga­leries Lafayette at Pa­cific Place. Dur­ing the trip, Ghea spoke at a sem­i­nar at Ox­ford Univer­sity, de­scrib­ing how she trans­lates In­done­sian cul­ture into fash­ion, while also rein­vent­ing her­itage to make it suit­able for con­tem­po­rary life. Pieces from her “Wayang Be­ber” col­lec­tion also graced the run­way dur­ing a fash­ion show that took place dur­ing the trip. “I de­rived the in­spi­ra­tion for the line from Ja­vanese wayang be­ber, an art show pop­u­lar among the Ja­vanese royal court, while sub­sti­tut­ing its [tra­di­tional wo­ven] songket with a fab­ric fea­tur­ing gold-and-black color com­bi­na­tion,” Ghea told J+ in an in­ter­view. In or­der to sell items to­day, Ghea says that pieces must tell a story. The leather pup­pets used in wayang of­fered good in­spi­ra­tion for the col­lec­tion, she adds, as the sto­ries il­lus­trated in wayang the­ater al­ways tell of the un­end­ing strug­gle be­tween good and evil. To ad­just her fash­ion line for Bri­tish au­di­ences, Ghea said she toned down the col­ors of the dresses to sim­plify them with­out los­ing their chic and el­e­gant feel. “If you look at Bri­tish fash­ion en­thu­si­asts, the adults tend to be more con­ser­va­tive in terms of color,” Ghea said. “Just take a look at the col­lec­tions by Burberry, for ex­am­ple. They are not like Ital­ian fash­ion­istas, who are more ad­ven­tur­ous in their color choices.” Ghea said that it would take more than style to make In­done­sian cou­ture glob­ally fa­mous. “We have to be truly ready to meet in­ter­na­tional prod­uct qual­ity stan­dards, which are quite rig­or­ous.” Pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity also has to be in­creased to cater to the de­mands of a wider mar­ket, she adds. Ca­pac­ity has al­ways been a chal­lenge for In­done­sia’s fash­ion lines due to a paucity of skilled work­ers. “If you are not ready to pro­duce the amount of pieces or­dered by your [in­ter­na­tional cus­tomers], then for­get it,” she says.

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