Sylviana Hamdani (The Jakarta Post)
Mon, April 18, 2022
Fashion designer Ayu Dyah Andari devoted over a decade to the fashion industry before finally going big with her debut solo show.
After 11 years of building her name in the Indonesian fashion ecosystem, Ayu Dyah Andari has finally made it. The designer presented her first personal fashion show at The Langham, South Jakarta on March 14, establishing herself as a name to be reckoned with in the local fashion industry. More than 250 guests, mostly from the country’s social elite, filled the hotel’s ballroom for the show.
“It is every designer’s dream to present their own show,” said Ayu. “Alhamdulillah [thank be to God]I was able to do this after 11 years.
Presented under the theme Les Allées (The Lanes), the show represented the designer’s creative journey. Among the 60 looks presented in the afternoon were remakes of some of the best-selling items from his past collections, as well as Ayu’s latest models.
A house of roses
“We are how we were raised,” Ayu said, recalling her childhood.
Born in Palembang, South Sumatra, in 1986, Ayu grew up in a “rose house”.
“My mother used to decorate our house with a lot of roses,” she said. “They were everywhere; on upholstery, sheets, clothes.
Ayu’s mother, also a designer, sewed her children’s clothes herself.
“He drew a lot [princess-like] clothes for me, ”Ayu said.
As soon as little Ayu managed to hold a pencil in her hand, she began to draw women wearing beautiful dresses. She also made dresses for her Barbie dolls with leftover fabrics from her mother.
New Milestone: After 11 years of building her name in the Indonesian fashion ecosystem, Ayu Dyah Andari finally hosted her first personal fashion show at The Langham, Jakarta on March 14th. (Courtesy of Team Muara Bagdja) (Courtesy of Team Muara Bagdja / Courtesy of Team Muara Bagdja)
But Ayu’s parents had envisioned a better career for their daughter.
Because Ayu excelled in mathematics, her parents encouraged her to devote herself to engineering. She enrolled to study industrial engineering at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta. And after graduation, she also fulfilled her parents’ dream and worked in a multinational corporation in Jakarta.
But Ayu was also keeping her dream alive. In her spare time, she designed and sewed her dresses. The budding designer wore these dresses for wedding evenings and parties, which was noticed by her friends and colleagues.
“They could definitely say that my clothes were born out of passion,” she said. “Since I’m not one to let opportunities slip away, I immediately said I could make one for them too.”
Orders began to arrive from friends and colleagues. And one day, Ayu realized that her income as a stylist had grown more than the monthly salary she earned from her office job.
“I knew it was time to do it [fully] focus on my passion, “he said.
In 2011, Ayu resigned from her day job. She then set up her first laboratory in a 10 by 10 foot room in her home in Cibubur, east Jakarta. In that rather small space, Ayu, a seamstress and two embroiderers worked day and night to fulfill their orders.
“We had a second-hand sewing machine and a serger to work with,” he said.
To hone her skills, Ayu entered the Indonesian Fashion Week Designer Competition in 2012 and was a finalist. In competition, Ayu’s dress, which combined classic European design and Palembang gold song (traditional hand-woven fabric), attracted the attention of Liliana Tanoesoedibjo, president of the Miss Indonesia organization. And when the Miss World event was held in Bali in 2013, Ayu was chosen to dress six of the contestants.
“My clothes were very sexy and revealing,” said the designer. “But deep down, I was rather ashamed of them.”
When Ayu started wearing the hijab in 2014, she decided to design only modest clothes.
Ayu’s unmistakable style remains ultra-feminine, with a touch of neo-classic. Intricate embroidery and three-dimensional applications adorn her dresses.
By word of mouth, Ayu’s small business has grown. Her luxurious evening gowns have become a favorite of Indonesian celebrities and dignitaries.
But along with clients, the models Ayu saw as a copy of her style became rampant.
“I was initially furious,” the designer said of seeing dresses similar to hers on social media and markets.
Being a perfectionist, it usually takes Ayu and her team many months to research, design and create samples for a new collection.
“Yet, a week after launch, the same dress is already on Instagram and on the markets in 12 different colors for just 10th of our price, ”he said.
Reflecting, Ayu realized that so many people copy her because she is good.
“Now, if I don’t see people copying my clothes, I wonder what’s wrong,” she said with a laugh.
Sales down during the pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, Ayu’s sales fell. As public parties and gatherings were canceled, Ayu’s evening gowns were left hanging on the shelves.
“I had 40 employees at the time,” he said. “Most of them were heads of households. I wouldn’t let any of them go. ”
Ayu has been scrambling for new ideas to float her business.
The couturier then began designing casuals ready to wear (prêt-à-porter) for women, which mainly consists of everyday blouses, outerwear, skirts and tailored trousers. She has also started producing women’s accessories, such as belts, brooches, bags and scarves.
“Alhamdulillahthey sell very well, ”he said.
With these new items in her collections, Ayu has not only retained her old customers, but has also gained new ones.
“Before the pandemic, many could only admire my clothes because they couldn’t afford them,” she said. “But when I launched my ready-to-wear, they started buying and wearing them.”
In two years of the pandemic, Ayu has not only detained all of its employees, but has also nearly tripled the number. Today he employs 110 workers in his he workshop.
Hijab show: Ayu Dyah Andari collaborated with supermodel Okky Asokawati in designing several ready-to-wear outfits. (Japan / Sylviana Hamdani) (Japan / Sylviana Hamdani)
In her first show, Ayu also presented a ready-to-wear collection in collaboration with iconic supermodel Okky Asokawati.
“Okky was a legend and my mother’s muse,” Ayu said. “It is really an honor for me to be able to collaborate with her”.
Likewise, Okky also felt enthusiastic about the collaboration.
“Ayu’s mom was one of my fans,” Okky said during the press conference at The Langham on March 14. “I am so excited to be able to partner with her daughter now.”
According to Okky, Ayu’s classic style matches her elegant style.
Their collaborative collection includes structured long coats, long tutu skirts and tailored trousers.
In the show, Ayu also showcased her collaboration with fashion entrepreneur Sarah Sofyan. Their collection features loose fit casual pieces in vibrant shades of fuchsia, lime green, red and yellow. Striped motifs and rose applications embellish the outfits.
“Like Ayu, I am also a mother of young children,” Sarah said during the press conference at The Langham. “I need clothes that allow me to move freely. And I am also very happy that Ayu was open to my suggestion to introduce more colors into the collection. ”
Both collaborative collections are now available in Ayu boutiques in Jakarta, Surabaya in East Java, Padang in West Sumatra and Jambi.
Having established her name in the industry, does Ayu also aim to go global?
“There have been offers [to set up a boutique abroad]”Said the designer. “But right now, I really want to establish my business in the Indonesian market.”
As the pandemic appears to be abating, Ayu confided that he has received a huge number of orders for Idul Fitri.
“We have closed PO [purchase orders] for Idul Fitri’s made-to-order clothes for now, ”said the mother of four.
“During Ramadan, I just want to be with my children, read the Quran and focus on fulfilling all the orders we have received,” he added.
“To me, all these orders are trust [trust]. ”