Anniesa Hasibuan brings modesty to the world of fashion

Internationally-acclaimed Indonesian fashion designer, Anniesa Hasibuan, made her Doha debut at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Doha (MBFWD) held at the Hilton Doha. In partnership with Indonesian Fashion Gallery (IFG), the talented 30-year-old designer expanded her reach to Doha after successful appearances in New York, London and Paris.

Known for her detail work and modest fashion, Anniesa made headlines when she became the first fashion designer to present a collection at one of the official New York Fashion Week (NYFW) venues, Moynihan Station, with every model walking the runway wearing a hijab. Forty-eight looks from her ‘D’Jakarta’ Spring/Summer collection 2017 went down the runway. Anniesa is also the first Indonesian fashion designer to make it to one of the biggest fashion events in the world, which demonstrates the success of the year-old brand.

Across the catwalk shows, around 125,000 people attend the NYFW shows while another two million watch online via live streams.

Dubbed as “another win for the modest fashion movement” by ELLE magazine, Anniesia’s move is considered to be a historic moment in bringing the hijab into the mainstream, especially at a time when what Muslim women choose to wear is causing intense debate.

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“THE HIJAB IS A SYMBOL OF IDENTITY FOR ME. I’M ALSO A HIJABI. HOWEVER, MY DESIGNS ARE FOR EVERYONE EVEN THOSE WITHOUT HIJAB. BUT THE POINT IS TO ENCOURAGE FASHION WITH HIJAB”

“The hijab is a symbol of identity for me. I’m also a hijabi. However, my designs are for everyone even those who don’t wear a hijab. But the point is to encourage fashion with hijab,” said Anniesa.

However, Anniesa is not the first designer from Indonesia to experiment with mixing the hijab with gowns and ready-to-wear outfits. Islamic or modest fashion in Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey is quite common and popular where fashion designers are pushing through an international modest fashion movement in today’s fashion industry.

The year 2016 was debated as the year of Muslim or modest fashion movement breakthrough after H&M released an ad showing a Muslim model in a hijab, Playboy featured a hijabi woman, Uniqlo partnered with a Muslim designer and Dolce and Gabbana launched an abaya collection.

The year 2016 also saw Muslim beauty blogger, Nura Afia, as the star of cosmetic giant CoverGirl’s latest commercial, and most recently, 19-year-old Somali-American Halima Aden made history when she became the first contestant to wear a hijab and burkini in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

Striking gold in New York

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“THE FACT THAT I WEAR HIJAB DID NOT STOP ME OR MY DESIGNS FROM RECEIVING RECOGNITION IN NEW YORK”

Anniesa’s debut at the New York Fashion Week in September 2016 was met with admiration and a rare standing ovation. “I never thought people would love my designs as much as they did. People loved my work!” she said. “The international media coverage was remarkable. I was very pleased with what they said. I didn’t expect to make the news. The fact that I wear a hijab did not stop me or my designs from receiving recognition in New York.”

Hasibuan’s works have previously featured at shows in London, Istanbul, and Cannes but NYFK cemented her status as a rising designer. Her NYFK success was covered by local and international media including CNNBBCELLE, Cosmopolitan, IndependentAl Jazeera, Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, Yahoo!, USA Today and more.

“They said this is beautiful, without having any reservations or peculiarity. It’s all about remaining true to your designs and yourself, and reflecting originality in your designs,” added Anniesa.

“IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU’RE MUSLIM OR NON-MUSLIM, OR A HIJABI OR NON HIJABI MUSLIM, EVERYONE CAN WEAR MY BRAND. MY DESIGNS ARE FOR EVERYONE!”

She was inspired to create a Spring/Summer 2017 collection that would break boundaries and crossover to mainstream fashion with mix and match separates in an earthy color palette of neutrals, peaches and greens that can be worn with or without a hijab. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Muslim or non-Muslim, or a hijabi or non hijabi Muslim, everyone can wear my brand. My designs are for everyone!” she said.

The theme for the collection, ‘Jakarta’, drew inspiration from her hometown. The show consisted of 48 different looks, of which 10 were evening gowns and 38 were ready-to-wear pieces. Hijabs were worn with trousers, suits, kimonos, tunics, and gowns all in colorful silks and patterns. According to Anniesa, Jakarta occupants have a unique style as they originate from many different indigenous tribes and foreign backgrounds.

“The most important thing for me is that my designs are my own and reflect me and my love for fashion. It doesn’t matter if I’m not famous or like others, as long as I remain true to myself and my designs,” said Anniesa.

Each piece in the collection features exquisite fabrics including metallic, intense beadwork and embroidery details. Mix and match creativity birthed the collection of layered coats, joggers, tunics and beaded kimonos.

For the motifs, Anneisa uses tied and batik printing techniques giving the collection a distinctive flair. Exquisite embellishments elevate the apparel pieces into beyond-belief spectacular ensembles complete with a little added edge. Heavy beading and logo-adorned hijabs complimented each tailored jacquard suit or flowing kimono and tunic combination seamlessly.

“I had to attend the New York Fashion Week because it’s the first step to becoming successful. New York is one of the capitals of fashion in the world. People from various parts of the world follow the New York fashion trends. The New York Fashion week is attended by the world’s best fashion brands,” said Anniesa.

In addition to having boutiques in Indonesia and New York, after attending NYFW, she received contracts from several brands in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which she is currently revising.

From New York to Qatar

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After her spectacular debut in London and New York, Anniesa strikes gold again in Doha with her “Royal Paradise” collection of modest wear.

“My appearance at the MBFWD happened because of my success at the NYFW,” she said. “After attending the NYFW, people wanted to know more about me and my designs, especially when they heard about my appearance in NYFW. It’s like no one wanted to miss on this opportunity to see my work live. After NYFW, I was invited by MBFWD who fully-sponsored my trip to Qatar. “

Her collection in MBFWD consisted of abayas, evening and wedding gowns – “designs that speak to the Middle East audience,” Anniesa said. “The MB invite was one of many invites I’ve received after the NYFW. I’ve also received contracts from Turkey, which is another international fashion capital especially in the Middle East.”

Inspired by the elegance of the aristocrats and the beauty of nature, Anniesa’s handmade couture collection features long dresses, ball gowns, couture outerwear, jumpsuits and breathtaking capes inspired by royal regalia.

This collection’s color palette featured gorgeous shades of champagne, earth tones, regal blues, sunset hues and shades of green. The soft color palette came alive in silhouettes adorned with 3D lace, brocade, sequins, organza, chiffon and fine tulle with intricate details serving as a feast for the eyes.

The fine details were inspired by the exuberant and rich textures of royalty along with pearl and crystals replicating the leaves and flowers of Indonesia. Specialty embroidery techniques of Padang were used in every outfit. Ostrich feather scarves and embroidered detailing adorned the headscarves adding an additional element of opulence and texture.

According to Anniesa, her Doha debut at MBFWD is more than just about showcasing her latest collection. She wishes to work with Qatari and non-Qatari business men and women in fashion, and work on instilling her brand name in Qatar. “I want to do something like I did in New York. I now have a store and market there. I want to continue to leave a mark in Qatar,” she said.

First steps to fashion

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“I LOVED FASHION FROM THE BEGINNING AND WHEN I BECAME A FASHION DESIGNER AND BUSINESS WOMAN, MY LOVE FOR PASSION GREW”

Born in Jakarta on 10 July 1986, Anniesa is the wife of a young entrepreneur, Andika Surachman. Prior to delving in the fashion industry, Anniesa’s first steps in fashion began just as a hobby.

“I loved fashion from the beginning and when I became a fashion designer and business woman, my love for it grew,” said Anniesa, who found inspiration in her grandmother’s flair for tailoring. In 2008, Anniesa began designing outfits for herself, and as time went by, she began designing for family and friends as well.

In early 2015, Anniesa, with her husband’s support, took a huge step into the fashion world and officially launched her modest-wear brand, Anniesa Hasibuan.

Anniesa’s passion in the fashion world drove her to her first big runway debut in London, one of the four fashion capitals of the world. She then began taking fashion designing courses in London to enhance her career as a fashion designer.

The challenges

“EVERYTHING CAN BE CRITICIZED ESPECIALLY IN FASHION. THERE ARE ALWAYS THOSE WHO LIKE IT OR DISLIKE IT. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE CRITICISM AND HOSTILITY, WHICH IS NORMAL”

With fame comes criticism and Annesia has got her fair share of criticism too. Some have criticized her work for being non-Islamic; arguing that the true aim of wearing the hijab is for women to remain modest and not draw any attention to themselves, and to avoid wearing elaborately decorated or colorful clothes.

“Everything can be criticized especially in fashion. There are always those who like it or dislike it. There will always be criticism and hostility, which is normal,” said Annesia. “The most important thing for me is to focus on the growth and development of my brand in the fashion industry,” she added.

According to Anniesa, the fashion industry is growing little by little. “It is diverse. Many countries and cultures are presented in today’s fashion industry – learning and taking from each other’s culture,” she said. “In this industry, you need creativity and identity. It’s always a challenge to maintain creativity and a good state of mind to create new designs and collections. As a fashion designer, I must create my identity in my designs. I don’t have to be like others.”

Today, Anniesa’s collections are available in Indonesia, London and New York.


This article is originally from BQ Plus’s Issue 7 – January 2017.

© 2017 BQ Plus ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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