Still cu­ri­ous

Prestige Indonesia - Lifestyle - - CONTENTS - STORY NINA HI­DAYAT PHO­TOG­RA­PHER peter TJAHJADI

In spite of clock­ing up nearly 25 years of bril­liance as a fash­ion de­signer, Se­bas­tian Gu­nawan con­tin­ues to see the world of style through the eyes of a much younger man

When I started out as a fash­ion de­signer, some of my clients treated me like a seam­stress,” re­calls se­bas­tian Gu­nawan. “they came to me with a pic­ture of a dress, and asked me to du­pli­cate it. I lis­tened to them, of course, but at the end of the day I was a de­signer. the de­ci­sion was mine to make. some­times I had to be a bit harsh and say no to re­quests if they didn’t re­flect my aes­thetic.”

sit­ting in his of­fice in har­moni, Cen­tral Jakarta, Gu­nawan is ev­ery bit as hon­est as he is ap­proach­able. the ate­lier dis­plays grand evening gowns, the tops of which are char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally dec­o­rated with vi­brant flo­ral ap­pliques with rich em­bel­lish­ments. among them are a few pieces from the de­signer’s 2015 col­lec­tion, Mélange des sens (mix­ture of senses), which was in­spired by the flower paint­ings of a 17th-cen­tury dan­ish painter, Jo­han Lau­rentz Jensen.

the col­lec­tion de­buted at tel­stra Perth Fash­ion Fes­ti­val in septem­ber 2014. Gu­nawan’s par­tic­i­pa­tion at the event was a part of his asian Cou­ture Fed­er­a­tion (ACF) mem­ber­ship. the in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion was not the first of its kind of his glo­ri­ous ca­reer. In 2004, he re­ceived In­ter­na­tional ap­parel Fed­er­a­tion World Young de­signer award in Barcelona, spain. Gu­nawan’s im­pres­sive list of clients ranges from me­dia mogul dian Muljadi to tv pre­sen­ter Gi­u­liana ran­cic and Glee star Lea Michele.

“I’m still learn­ing to give my cus­tomers the best re­sults. Mak­ing a be­spoke dress is very dif­fer­ent from pro­duc­ing a ready-to-wear col­lec­tion,” notes Gu­nawan, who grad­u­ated with a fash­ion de­gree from Mi­lan’s Isti­tuto Mo­ran­goni. “When you make a ready-to-wear col­lec­tion, you test it on a model and an every­day per­son, and go from there. But to tailor a dress for some­one, I have to su­per­vise the fit­tings and make nec­es­sary changes un­til the fit is per­fect. It’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent treat­ment.”

“I like women to look like women. to me, they’re beau­ti­ful just the way they are,” Gu­nawan ex­plains of his con­stantly clas­sic ap­proach to wom­enswear. his love of the fem­i­nine look was formed early on by the ini­tial “ladies of his life”: his mother titin Wong­sod­jojo and sis­ters Lisna and Fenty Gu­nawan. “When I watched my mom dressed up, I be­lieved that there was some­thing mag­i­cal about clothes, makeup and ac­ces­sories. how they change the way a per­son walk, talk or gaze,” says Gu­nawan. “It brought out a sense of cu­rios­ity in me.

“Back then, I didn’t even know it was called fash­ion. that was a strange con­cept for a nine year-old. so my love of fash­ion started even be­fore I knew the word! When I dis­cov­ered more about fash­ion, I came to un­der­stand that it has two faces. one is the vis­i­ble face, the evening gown or high heels or beau­ti­ful hairdo of a woman. the other is the in­vis­i­ble face, the hid­den char­ac­ter in you that fash­ion brings out. You might not be able to see it, but it’s there for oth­ers to see. that’s the beauty of fash­ion.”

af­ter al­most 25 years in the In­done­sian fash­ion in­dus­try, Gu­nawan still main­tains the same sense of wonder about fash­ion, all to the ben­e­fit of his creative process. In 2014, Gu­nawan launched new col­lec­tions for his four fash­ion lines: se­bas­tian Gu­nawan, bri­dal la­bel se­bas­tian sposa and readyto-wear la­bels se­bas­tian red and Vo­tum. he works closely with his wife and creative part­ner, Cristina Panarese, on the ready-to-wear pieces. the cou­ple met dur­ing their fash­ion stud­ies in Mi­lan. Gu­nawan has also par­tic­i­pated in two spe­cial col­lab­o­ra­tive col­lec­tions for skin­care brand SK-II and ice cream brand Mag­num. he be­gins 2015 with the un­veil­ing of his Chi­nese new Year col­lec­tion, a highly an­tic­i­pated an­nual event for fash­ion­istas in Jakarta.

his pro­duc­tiv­ity is al­most un­be­liev­able. how does Gu­nawan do it? “there are two things that keep me where I am to­day: a strong team and a strong be­lief,” he replies. “When I’m stuck for ideas, I ask the team: what would you do? they give me new point of views, new en­ergy and new creative juice. Be­sides, I be­lieve that the more you push your­self, the bet­ter you get at some­thing. I don’t like fash­ion be­cause it’s glam­orous. I fall in love with fash­ion over and over again be­cause it keeps me cu­ri­ous, it keeps me won­der­ing. I con­stantly wonder about dif­fer­ent ways to treat ma­te­ri­als, to com­bine them and, ul­ti­mately, to bring my imag­i­na­tions to life. I’m lucky that af­ter all these years, the cu­rios­ity is still alive. I’m still the same cu­ri­ous child I was when I was young.”


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