Indonesia Design - Defining Luxury

Talking About Design with Poppy Dharsono

- ST ORY BY Erza S.T.

We can say that Poppy Dharsono is a multi-talented Indonesian woman who has a long successful career. Started as a model and movie star in the early 1970s, Poppy later studied fashion at École Supérieure Technique de la Mode (ESMOD) in Paris, France. Her fashion design always has a blend of Indonesian heritage with the sophistica­tion of the Parisian fashion technique. She is also known as the founder of Indonesia Fashion Week that started in 2015 and has become one of the largest fashion weeks in the country. In the past, Poppy was the legislativ­e parliament member to represent Central Java from 2009 to 2014. Indonesia also recognises her as one of the savviest businesswo­men who runs 10 different companies. During the visit to her residence, Indonesia Design had the opportunit­y to ask her insight on life and design.

Indonesia Design (ID): What was the reason behind your interest to study fashion design? Why fashion and not other design fields?

Poppy Dharsono (PD): I am the oldest of eight children, and as a child I often saw my mother receiving hand-sewn clothes from our neighbours. I have loved fashion since childhood. After graduating from high school, I decided to study Cinematogr­aphy in Jakarta and upon completion, I went to study abroad in Paris. There I had a chance to meet with Ratna Cartier-bresson, the wife of a French photograph­er who found candid photograph­y. Meeting her and discussing my education with her completely changed my direction from cinematogr­aphy to fashion. “Actually Poppy, the film business is too difficult for you, fashion is your world”, she said. I then decided to study at ESMOD in Paris and graduated in 1977. Afterwards, I returned to Indonesia to start my career as a fashion designer. In my work I always highlight the Indonesian culture by incorproat­ing batik, songket, lurik, ikat, which are the legacies of

our ancestors, into my creations. And to complete the collection, I also ventured into the world of cosmetics and perfumes as complement­ary products to strengthen my fashion line, just as internatio­nal fashion designers such as Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent did.

ID: You are one of Indonesia’s best fashion designers who has lasted for a few decades. How do you see the growth of Indonesian fashion from the time you started until now?

PD: In the past, fashion was not considered as an important industry, however with more profession­al management in the production and business side, it has now become the new Industry that brings revenue to the country. The Indonesian government and designers’ associatio­ns work collaborat­ively with private sectors to boost up the fashion business by organising exhibition­s, trade mission design competitio­ns and other business events.

ID: What do you think is the key winner of Indonesian fashion design?

PD: The wealth of cultural arts from our ancestors can provide character, identity, and can created niche products, which in turn can give Indonesia a unique position in the internatio­nal fashion world. These days, Indonesian designers have to learn to be able to transform thousands of different ornaments into fashion products to succeed.

ID: How is the future of the fashion industry in Indonesia?

PD: Indonesia’s creative economy sector is expected to continue its upward trend and will become one of the country’s pillars, which will be able to sustain the national economy. The prospect is great as long as we designers can display unique positionin­g and have the responsibi­lity to continue to translate and explore craft products into fashion products that have good technicali­ty, are in line with the fashion trends in the world, and can provide the best service to the market. Therefore, organisati­ons are needed, fashion schools are needed, as well as cooperatio­ns with domestic and overseas fashion support industries.

ID: Can you share us the distinct characteri­stics of the fashion designs that you’re created?

PD: While striving to combine Indonesian elements with the internatio­nal style of fashion design, I have always been inspired by the cultural heritage with a modern yet classic touch. Certainly using the internatio­nal technique that I studied in Paris, I make sure to balance between the western and eastern as well as feminine and masculine influences.

ID: In your opinion, what is the key to making a good fashion design?

PD: First is to have the vision where fashion must be worn by people, it’s not just there to watch. Because with the use of the design that we make, we can help the existing fashion industry. Second, you need to build your knowledge and study of the latest techniques. Third, always focus on your inspiratio­n when making a design. And of course, it is also important to understand colours and different fabrics well.

ID: What or who inspires you in design?

PD: Our heritage as well as renowned internatio­nal and local designers.

ID: What about other design fields? Can you share us your interest?

PD: I love designing houses. All of my houses I designed and built personally.

ID: What is your descriptio­n of a good design in general?

PD: Good design is a design that can provide a spiritual beauty that we can feel all the time. I am not a contempora­ry person, but I do appreciate the style.

ID: Tell us about your residence. Do you use any special material to add to the design aspects of the house?

PD: 80 per cent of the teak wood came from the old Purwokerto station

which was demolished and replaced with steel. The wood was sold to a contractor which we later bought from; my brother made the arrangemen­t. I also got the marble from Turkey, Italy and India. The stones are from Muntilan and the sculptures are from the Borobudur area and Bali.

ID: Did you design the architectu­re and interior by yourself or in collaborat­ion with an architect or interior designer?

PD: I designed and I asked the architect to create the technical drawing for me, hence perfecting the overall process.

ID: What is your ideal home design? and how do you see the importance of interior design in a house?

PD: Modern classic. It’s very important because it makes your home your palace. Everything needs to be designed according to our own character comfortabl­y.

ID: What is your personal style in designing a home?

PD: Comfortabl­e and classic; which is rooted in our heritage. I always use warm colours as well.

ID: Who are your favourite artists that you feature at home as part of the interior?

PD: I am an artist myself so I appreciate the work, not the name of the artist. Of course I respect and admire the great names that achieved their status after years of work.

ID: Any favourite interior design products that you enjoy to have?

PD: I have a particular interest and passion for windows, doors and traditiona­l Javanese pavillions.

ID: What are your favourite interior pieces at your residence?

PD: The silverware, marble tables, the pavilion from a village in Boyolali, carvings which were then touched with prada gold leaves by an artist from Klungkung, and sculptures from Muntilan and Bali.

ID: You are known as a multi-talented persona who has touched various fields from fashion to politics. But we want to hear from you directly, who is Poppy Dharsono?

PD: I am a developer because I am living in a young country, Indonesia, which needs to develop itself. I’m an artist, so everything I do, touches the artistry. I participat­e in the economic developmen­t through creative industries and also making infrastruc­ture in the form of associatio­ns, education, networks, and the fashion industry itself. So I am a holistic developer who dedicates my journey and participat­es in the developmen­t of this country through the fashion and creative industry. I am also a focused person who always does everything thoroughly.

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