If you look back to read on some of the major fashion publications and news outlets in Indonesia for the past few months, chances are you would come across an article of a new, 1984-born designer named Tex Saverio. Rio, I believe that is how he is usually referred to, has been gaining a lot of attention from the fashion community, especially editors, for his avant-garde, couture-quality designs. After securing the honor of being one of the designers making presentation at Dewi Fashion Knights in Jakarta Fashion Week 2010 (he was showing with senior designers), Rio got an even bigger boost to his name, one that instantly brought him to prominence: a feature of one of his designs on May 2011 edition of Harper’s Bazaar USA worn by Pop superstar Lady Gaga, no less.
How did Rio’s design ended-up being worn by someone as big as Gaga? Basically, his presentation at Dewi Fashion Knights was covered by the press, including the foreign ones. Some photos of his presentation were then found by super-blogger Perez Hilton and posted on his Coco Perez blog, and then that post was found by Lady Gaga’s stylist, Nicola Formichetti (who is also the creative director of the newly revived Mugler, fashion director of Uniqlo, and fashion director of Vogue Hommes Japan and other publications. Perez could have told Mr. Formichetti about the dress, too, since both are close friends of Gaga’s.)
Mr. Formichetti then gave Rio a call, asking him to send his dresses to be worn by Gaga in a photo shoot for her upcoming Born This Way album. Unfortunately for Rio, his dresses arrived late and the photo shoot was over, so he had to be content with having his dress featured in Harper’s Bazaar USA only. The dress is a long-sleeved black corset dress with embroidered skirt, very fitting for Gaga’s extravagant style and in perfect contrast with her pink hair.
Last Friday (May 13, 2011) during CLARA Revival Night Lights, I had the privilege of being an eye witness to Rio’s presentation. The collection was understandably short because, 1st of all, it was not his private show, and then he had to show without break after Andreas Odang and KLÉ. These two brands presented collections that were relatively minimal but readily wearable, the exact opposite of Rio’s beautifully complex yet hardly wearable collection.
Rio’s collection (I’m not sure if he had a name for it) consisted mainly of gold. His presentation was opened by a model wearing golden body suit, something that would catch the attention of performers like Gaga, Kylie Minogue, and Dita Von Teese. The model emerged from a dropped white curtain that revealed The S.I.G.I.T band and Bina Seni Vokal (BSV) Choir that provided soundtrack for all three presentations, and she was immediately followed by 5-or-so models, one wore a knee-length dress and the rest wore ball gowns.
All dresses were dominantly gold and heavily embroidered, with a little touch of black here and there, particularly on the final dress worn by model Paula Verhoeven. The embroidery was probably inspired by flowers, but I hope that Rio had been thinking of mosses and mushrooms because it certainly looked like them and they would have been a more genius reference than any obvious flower. The embroidery was very meticulous, it was swirling rows of golden petals layered on top of each other and three-dimensionally crafted to make the floras. The final dress was black (the skirt was probably layers of tulle) and gold embroidery was on the body to create the look of a fitted jacket with pointy shoulders that looked like raging flames.
I beg your forgiveness if this article and the photos that I provide don’t add much details about the clothes. I sat on the 2nd row next to my boss that came together with me, and all I had to photograph those exquisite dresses was my BlackBerry. The quality of the camera was so bad and we were no nearer to the stage than the photographers at the pit were. But if I can be allowed one excuse, that was not how something like Rio’s design should be presented and appreciated. The context of the presentation did not do justice to the clothes. Not bad, just unjust because the clothes should have been presented in the same way Riccardo Tisci has been presenting his haute couture collections for Givenchy lately, especially if details and workmanship are what needed to be highlighted about the collection. But, regrets aside, Rio still managed to wow the audience.
After that night, I found Rio to be so significant not merely for his talent, what he has created, and his dress being worn by Gaga, but because I felt that Rio was the new symbol of hope that Indonesian designers can really break into the global scene, presenting their collections during fashion weeks at the four fashion capitals or, perhaps, by turning Jakarta into the next fashion capital like Brazil and Japan. We have always known that Indonesian designers have got what it takes to take on the world stage, and even if they haven’t quite managed to break into the global business yet, they still have enormous design talent to offer. However, I suspect that many designers have grown content with being successful in Jakarta alone, having rich socialites as their loyal clientele. It seems to me that Indonesian high fashion is now more about the money and dressing the ‘It’ girls for the ‘It’ parties instead of about setting the ultimate standard of beauty.
I have a belief, and hope, that Rio won’t end up being one of those designers. You look at him, covered in tattoo and sort of hiding beneath his hooded jacket, and you don’t think that he will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Adinda Bakrie or Fernanda Tjahjadi at Louis Vuitton customer gathering. I look at Rio and he reminds me of Hyde, the lead of Japanese rock band L’Arc-en-Ciel (you will agree that Rio looks like a Japanese or Korean TV star). I look at what he presented that night and tried to estimate his talent, and I thought of Alexander McQueen.
What Rio has presented so far doesn’t qualify as wearable in any normal social occasion. If Rio is going to be more than a designer that creates theatrics, if he is going to make women look sanely beautiful in wearable clothes, he would need to learn how to pull himself back when creating ready-to-wear and even custom-made dresses. I think it is good that Rio started off his career by doing too much and immediately setting himself as a promising couturier, because it would be easier to tone down all of the extravagance that he puts in his designs rather than trying to force himself do more after he started off his career by not doing enough.
I think what Rio needs to do to go further with his career is find a business partner that looks at his design, first and foremost, as a creative force not a commercial force. His business partner would have to be able to afford not gaining commercial success in an instant and has to be able to genuinely appreciate the critical acclaim that Rio could very well receive and to promote his creativity through the right channels to the right people. Rio had better maintain a good relationship with Mr. Formichetti because he is one among few fashion editors that have enough creative influence to push his designs into a wider audience.
Like the collection that he presented that night, Rio himself is a gold that is raw and precious. But nobody wears gold when it is still raw. Rio, too, has to undergo process and polishing.
– Taws Up! –