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Hian Tjen: Trail of Stars

The innovative designer talks about his 2017-18 couture collection “Magellani” and today’s millennial-driven fashion world.

When talking about Hian Tjen, fairy tales spring to mind. Hailing from Pemangkat, West Kalimantan, the 32-year old fashion designer is known for his beautiful, unabashedly feminine gowns. Imagine Cinderella after her fairy godmother appeared.

Hian is one of the most soughtafter bridal designers in the country. His famous clients include actresses Chelsea Olivia and Nabila Syakieb. The stunning black gown recently seen on singer Bunga Citra Lestari at the Selebrita Awards 2017 in September was one of the couturier’s bespoke creations.

Hian is a member of the Indonesian Fashion Designers Council (IPMI), along with fashion heavyweights such as Biyan, Sebastian Gunawan and Didi Budiardjo. It was only two years ago that the young designer held his first solo show, “Chateau Fleur”, in the grand ballroom of Raffles Jakarta. It was such a success that when the Esmod fashion school graduate returned for his second show last September, anticipation was high.

Entitled “Magellani”, Hian’s 2017-18 couture collection was inspired by an Estonian folktale of the Milky Way the designer had come across in his reading. It tells the story of the goddess Lindu, who led a group of migratory birds during the winter. The concept also came about because of a camping holiday in Morocco a few years back.

“I went out of my tent one night and saw this incredible trail of stars,” Hian recalls at his showroom in Pluit. “I promised myself that I would present a show dedicated to the stars. With this collection, I played with a lot of embroideries, star-shaped details, lace and prints as its elements. The cutting was loose and flowy. I incorporated Swarovski crystals. For the colours, think dawn, sunset and midnight. I wanted the collection to look dreamy and ethereal with a subtle hint of sexy.”

Asked about today’s fashion world, Hian says: “Many designers today compete to attract people’s attention and a lot of it has to do with what millennials want. We are living in a very millennial-driven world and like it or not, we have to follow their lifestyles to stay relevant.

“I look up to designers like Yves Saint Laurent. They have stayed relevant since the 1960s until today because of their continued innovations. Each of their collections is different, nothing is the same. YSL always strove to be unpredictable, and that’s what I aspire to be.”

“Travel is a big part of my inspiration. This year, I got to travel to Chile, which was one of my most memorable moments of 2017. I discovered their weaving tradition. Their pieces are incredibly beautiful, more so with their exotic patterns. I brought home two suitcases full of them. I find them to be similar to Sumba’s ikat weaving. I plan to make a collection dedicated to Chile. I have already envisioned a concept.”

After his successful second solo show, Hian is now focusing on meeting deadlines as orders pile up. “I just did back-to-back shows. I did my bridal collection show in August, my second solo show in September and then there was Jakarta Fashion Week in November. It’s been a ride,” he smiles. Hian dreams of going to the world’s fashion hubs and working at legendary maisons, such as Dior and Elie Saab. “

It’s been a great year for getting more clients,” he says looking back on 2017. “I did a second solo show and I travelled overseas. If you ask me, I still dream of working with one of the fashion greats and to explore the international fashion scene. But in the end, it’s about finding the right timing. Right now, I want to commit my time and energy to my own label. I want to learn more about the fashion world. There’s always room for improvement for myself as a designer.”

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