sebastian gunawan Turning silver
Perfect for any fashionista’s coffee table, SebaStian GunaWan’s Whisper/Roar is a highly exclusive limited-edition book that tells the story of the couturier’s first 25 years in the world of fashion design. Nurul Widya reports
This year, to celebrate his silver anniversary in the world of couture and fashion design, Sebastian Gunawan, together with his wife and creative partner Cristina Panarese, has published a big, fat, beautiful – and highly exclusive – coffee table book about their lives and their career, Whisper/Roar.
“The intention of the book is to give clients a clear perspective of our work, especially in the last 10 years, and of how it all started through illustrations and drawings,” says 51-year-old Seba, who is famed for his feminine creations and minute attention to detail. “To mark a quartercentury of work for the label, we decided to publish a book that tells the reader about our efforts and processes in making the various collections.”
The title of the book calls to mind Seba’s collection, also called Whisper/ Roar, from October 2017, created to mark the label’s silver anniversary. It was a sort of compilation of Seba’s greatest hits: all bold blacks and reds, delicate lace work and floral themes in dramatic silhouettes.
The 250-page limited edition is highly exclusive – not sold in bookshops and available only through direct application to Seba and his team. It features a decade’s worth of collections from 2007 to 2017, shot by top photographers including Peter Tjahyadi, Anton Johnsen and Moko Wong. The images capture minute details of Seba and Cristina’s pieces.
“The book launch we held in May was the climax of a series of celebrations for the anniversary of the Sebastian Gunawan label, including an exhibition of our past work,” says Seba. “It took us 18 months to create the book, which is printed on top-quality paper imported from the U.S. The original plan was to launch the book at the same time as the fashion show, but we ran out of time. The most timeconsuming part was the curating process. It was very hard to pick which pieces would make the book, because they were all our children.
Jakarta-born Seba’s latest collection is called Cromia. “With Cromia, Cristina and I were inspired by the fauvism movement pioneered by Henri Matisse. Fauvism is very interesting because it allows colours to become the centrepiece in interpreting a creation, character and situation. The silhouette, materials and techniques - all of these are translated through colours, just like in fauvism.”
Seba says he is inspired by people he admires, although many of his ideas come from within. “Everything in life is always changing, be it from the economic point of view, political, social or cultural. Those changes keep me relevant, they keep me inspired.
“The art of working as a designer is to understand, to listen to what clients desire and to transform these wishes into layers of fabric and colours. I want my clients to feel comfortable. Most of all, I want the dresses I make to make them feel beautiful and boost their confidence.”