Sun, 13 Apr 2003

Fashion and art, a presentation self in Tiarma's design

Fitri Wulandari The Jakarta Post Bandung, West Java

Fashion and art is like two sides of one coin for fashion designer cum artist Tiarma Dame Ruth Sirait.

Both are complimentary to each other like day and night, yin and yang.

Her works have been presented in catwalks as many as in art exhibition.

The mix of fashion and art makes Tiarma works unique, many times wild and out of the mainstream trend due to her boldness to explore every possibilities.

Even with this balance philosophy, Tiarma named her fashion studio in the hilly Dago, North Bandung, Poleng. Poleng is a black-and-white checkered cloth used by Balinese.

"Being in the fashion industry is tough. You face tight competition, problem with budget and human resources and many, many other things," Tiarma told The Jakarta Post recently.

"Art keeps me balanced. It maintains my spirit to work and explore as well as training my analytical skill and imagination," she added.

One striking feature about Tiarma's designs is that they reflect her thinking of its surrounding. They might be too cynical for many people but they also bear truths.

This has made her design come out with a strong theme.

"Fashion is a presentation of self. It is a personal statement," the words printed on her website

Her recent work titled Synthetic Love was currently displayed at Pameran Seni Rupa Perempuan (Women Fine Arts Exhibition) from April 5 to April 11 at the Taman Ismail Marzuki along with 48 other women artists.

Synthetic Love features a bright, thick pink synthetic fur coat and long pants, with silvery corset made out of glow-in-the dark elastic plastic and fur hats.

It comes with a heart-shape fur bag and clear plastic water- hose gloves, creating a bizarre, imaginative design.

The sleeves, made out of stainless steel structure, form a wing-like shoulders, making the model looks like an angel dubbed carnival dancer dyed in pink.

"The design shows that nowadays there is hardly people who truly love or give for nothing. Everything is fake," the 33-year- old designer explains.

The design also shows how people tend to go overboard on everything, she said.

When worn by a 180-centimeter tall model, Synthetic Love can reach 2.45 meter tall, thanks to the 20 centimeter furry high heel and the 45 centimeter hats.

Previously, Tiarma's Synthetic Love was among Indonesian designs that entered the annual Concours International des Jeunes Createurs de Mode fashion designer competition in December 2002.

Her 1999 Anti-Rape installation and fashion performance for Wearable Touring featuring sexy lingeries. Using light fabric like chiffon to show the body curves and lines, the line sprinkled with bead and paillette and finished with lining with synthetic furs.

The combination giving sexy, warm and foxy looks to the person who wear it.

Anti-Rape line was based on the idea that rape is a crime.

"Rape is a crime, just like when you are shoplifting at a supermarket. What women wear do not justify the rape against them," says Tiarma who graduated from Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) majoring in textile design in 1994 and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) for fashion design in 1997.

Exploration is another strong feature of Tiarma's design. While it is easy to pinpoint a fashion designer signature, Tiarma's designs are varied from contemporary to eccentric to ethnic.

"I think it is too early for a young designer to settle in one certain style or design. Such a waste. They should explore as much as they can," the energetic designer remarked.

Fabrics used on her design also reflects her adventurous spirit. From lycra to fiber to fur and plastic. Tiarma's design practically try out all new things.

Before starting her work as a independent designer, the German-Batak parentage Tiarma had been working as an intern in several garment companies in Germany, Austria and Australia.

Coming as one out of 10 best winners of Fashion Designer Competition 1997 (LPM) organized by women magazine Femina marking her debut in the fashion industry.

While Tiarma's works often tended to artwork, as a fashion designer, she also provide ready-to-wear designs to meet market demand.

Most of her ready-to-wear lines are back to 70's and 80's look. But, it still goes with the philosophy that fashion is a personal statement.

One style, one individual is the slogan of her Poleng Studio. Poleng provide fashion design according to one personal character.

Her educational background in textile design expand her exploration to design traditional textile into modern one.

Tiarma's design on Batik Indramayu received warm welcome during Klondike Days 2000 in Edmonton, Canada.

At present, Tiarma is preparing her future fashion performance. Taking local versus global theme, the performance expresses her growing concern over the strong domination of global culture over local.

"When we look at traditional clothes, we questioned whether they will become a history as many teenagers are reluctant to wear them," Tiarma explained.

For the event, Tiarma is preparing around 40 Barbie dolls to be dressed in traditional costumes from Asian countries as a representation of local culture.

It will be accompanied with real human fashion show to represent the global culture.

"I make my protest through fashion," she laughed.