Farah Angsana: Innovating a Couture

International fashion designer Farah Angsana is showing the world how the beauty of Indonesia has contributed to her latest masterpieces. Aulia R. Sungkar finds out more.

The Indonesian born, Zurich based fashion designer has won the hearts of the world’s crème de la crème fashionistas with her haute couture and bridal collections, which are frequently showcased in esteemed events such as Los Angeles and New York fashion weeks.

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This time, Farah is rediscovering her talent bearing the name “Indonesia” as the theme of her Spring 2011 collection.

She is exploring on the kebaya blouse, from simple day wear to the extraordinary wedding sarong kebaya.

The idea of featuring kebaya in her collection is inspired by her passion for Javanese traditional woman dress, which has been with her since childhood. Her grandmother, who was peranakan or mixed Indonesian-Chinese linage, had a far-reaching influence on Farah’s taste for kebaya.

“My grandmother used to wear sarong kebaya as her daily dress. And I was once indulged in reverie wondering if I could modernize the beautiful Javanese kebaya blouse into a fabulous cocktail dress,” Farah recalls.

Her Spring 2011 collection has indeed achieved a great success. Farah has won rave reviews in media around the world. “I never thought that kebaya cocktail dress I created could make such a big hit during and after my show in New York. It is a great honor, indeed, to see the world appreciates the culture of my country with full of admiration,” she expresses her delight.

TatJasleneFarahAngsana1Born in Medan, brought up in London and Los Angeles, and currently resides in Zurich, Farah marked a history as the first Indonesian fashion designer to showcase her collection in Paris in 2002.

She has reached the fame of being an international fashion designer with successful venture in bridal and evening gown haute couture. Classic, gorgeous and elegant are what best describe her designs. In fact, her evening gown collection was bought by the acclaimed London department store Harrod’s as well as other prestigious buyers.

“It’s a lot of hard work. I design six collections a year; from Spring-Summer, Autumn-Winter, Pre-Fall and cruise collection to two seasons of bridal collection. Despite the freedom of creating my own designs, I do listen to my existing retailers such as Neiman Marcus in the U.S., and some stores in the Middle East and Europe. The way I can understand more on the tastes of their customers,” she says.

In addition to having Kleinfeld (an exclusive bridal store in Manhattan, New York) and Renee Strauss in Beverly Hills as her retailers, Farah also serves a number of private couture clients, ranging from the Middle East royal family to Hollywood celebrities.

Katherine Heigl, Teri Hatcher and Elizabeth Banks are only a few of internationally renowned celebrities who wear Farah’s gowns.

Despite all the success, beginning was not easy for Farah. But she did not regret her failure during her early days. “I learnt that the pain I experienced when I failed was indeed the courage to move forward.”

TattFarah_Angsana_SpringFarah says that she feels fortunate enough to experience all the ups and down in the fashion industry. “We never stop learning and I’m always learning while keeping exploring the world of fashion.

I learnt about creating designs in my early days in London. I started to understand the market niche from observing the fashion industry in Italy. I acknowledged the meaning of couture and luxury through my fashion journey in Paris. Now, I am exploring all my knowledge and experiences in New York.”

For the get-up-and-go Farah, her days are driven by the endeavour to be the better of a fashion designer. But life is not all work. Away from the pressure of her industry, Farah says that finding time to share convivial moments with her husband and friends is of great importance.

At her leisure, she is into watching old classic movies, reading books, listening to music. “And off course shopping! I can shop ‘till drop for clothes, bags, shoes or even home objects.”

She loves cooking and experimenting different cuisines with her husband whenever she is in Zurich for the weekend. Farah is considered herself a food lover. There’s no any particular cuisine that she claims as her favourite. “But I simply dislike greasy junk food. I always love freshly cooked meals. My favourite dining places are those from Daniel Boulud and La Grenouille in New York to any food court stalls in Singapore and Indonesia.”

Farah is a frequent traveler, though most of the times she travels for business. Among all the cities and regions she has visited, Farah likes Bali, South of France and New York best.  “Not only does the island of gods bring peace and serenity, but no less important, the Balinese friendly hospitality and rich culture are truly charming. South of France has the world’s most amazing luxury resorts with amazing views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. New York has such an incredible energy that always inspires me to be more motivated in life. People are always upbeat there. The presence of many different cultures and nationalities has made New York become a great melting pot metropolitan.”

After all of these years exploring the world, Farah has shown her determination to not only bring the name “Farah Angsana” in the fashion industry to the next level. But no less importantly, she will never stop continuing her journey while showing the bright side of her homeland to the world.

Published in Indonesia Tatler, March 2011 edition.

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