Something you need to know about Didit Hediprasetyo is that he’s a humble figure. He has a calm and collected manner, yet he’s not afraid to speak his mind. Throughout a heartening virtual interview one recent Friday afternoon, the fashion designer gives insights into his work, about protecting his peace and the importance for us all of finding our own path. Being creative has always been his passion, he declares, and this commitment extends beyond couture to the worlds of art, photography, theatre and more.
A recent example of his diversification from couture was Hediprasetyo’s role as Creative Director for Nadya Hutagalung’s biography Walk with Me. What originally sparked his interest in the creative field was “the people inside the community,” he says, “and meeting the people who really care about projecting a creative vision.” It was during his first year in design school that he found “how diverse, dynamic, progressive and liberating this industry is. It’s the editors, the stylist, the influencers, the textile designers, the illustrators, the poets, the sculptor, the photographers, and everyone that I get to collaborate with that only this industry can offer. It’s the creative community.”
To our surprise, Hediprasetyo admits that, initially, he didn’t want to take fashion design too seriously. The reason? He thought that if he took it too seriously, it wouldn’t be his career of choice. He explains that the creative process is what keeps him going from one day to the next. Of course, there have been challenging and difficult times when he was working on a couture collection or another kind of project. “But I decided that the creative process is the one that makes me happy. It’s the one that makes me enjoy my day, that keeps me going. I take it easy. It’s not my life for the creative process, it’s the other way around. I think that if I gamble my life for that, then it’s going to suffer.”
Hediprasetyo talks about finding his peace and happiness during difficult times. It goes without saying that the pressure of work can take a toll on one’s mental health and wellness, as well as the quality of the end result, which perhaps explains the reservations he has had in the past about taking fashion too seriously. Having said that, Hediprasetyo has made quite a name for himself outside of Indonesia – in Paris, no less, the world’s fashion capital.
Didit Hediprasetyo spent many of his younger days in France and the U.S. He completed his higher education in Paris, at Parsons School of Design. He received a Silver Thimble Award in 2006 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design in 2007. It has been over a decade since he made his first couture presentation during the Spring/Summer Couture show in the salons of the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris in January 2010.
Hediprasetyo’s structured draperies, intricate embellishments and sophisticated workmanship can be seen on inspiring women like Anggun, Nadya Hutagalung, Adinda Bakrie, Velove Vexia, and Eva Celia, all of whom are good friends. Would he say they’re archetypes of the Didit Hediprasetyo woman? The designer replies: “I used to create these imaginary muses, with historical references, with a story – fictional often. Now, I try not to do that. I try to let the women who wear my pieces express their own archetypes. I’m just a dressmaker here. I make something that accentuates their inner voice. I don’t want create an inner voice that will dictate to them to be a person that they’re not. Now, I just want accentuate to create their own silhouette, to be the best version of themselves.”
To mark the 10th anniversary of Didit Hediprasetyo Couture, the designer celebrated with a special collection for fall/winter in which you could see his journey in the past decade. He explored his archives, picked the best pieces from each of his past collections and creating something new. What’s different about this collection is that he titled it “The Power Within”. He explored the power of reclaiming his inner voice. He immersed himself in the past and reshaped the present, while challenging the future. He dedicated the collection to women who embrace life’s challenges as opportunities for self-reflection, self-growth and self-love. Hediprasetyo’s signature songket weaving is central to the collection. It’s the core of his craftmanship and an ode to his country’s heritage.
The idea behind it was to “develop these handwoven materials and to find a platform for them to survive in the modern world, but with a contemporary twist.” While it created a beautiful structure for the clothes, producing handwoven materials was not an easy task. “I guess that would be the challenging part of the whole process,” says Hediprasetyo. “You can’t order these materials and expect them to arrive quickly. It’s all about human craftmanship, and it takes time and care to create it. So, we have to make something according to what the artisans have and their capacity. We can’t demand to always have it every time and every day. It’s just like in our own home kitchen. If we have fish, then we’ll make fish-based dishes. If there’s only vegetables in the refrigerator, then vegetarian dishes it must be.”
It’s always important to find satisfaction within yourself and not to be constantly seeking validation – Didit Hediprasetyo
Looking back on a decade of experience in international couture, Hediprasetyo says there was a learning curve as he discovered new elements that weren’t there before in his work. In the beginning, he “tried to do everything by the rule book.” But it was, to him, “more about creating fantasy, a beautiful escape.” Now he tries to “be more grounded, to observe the present moment and to be more realistic” in his vision. You can see that he now includes elements of streetwear, “comfortable things,” while at the same time maintaining the signature Didit Hediprasetyo touch in his clothes. Not only that, he now also explores different ways of exploring the creative process when making clothes, “whether it’s sculpting the materials straight away, creating the shapes on the spot then sketching later. Or even through conversation, through readings. There are so many ways to do it right now, compared to the traditional ways, and I’m exploring those.”
Of the difficult times in which we are all living, Hediprasetyo says: “Challenges will always be there. Even when there’s no challenge, that’s a challenge in itself. For example, to get inspired when everything’s OK and we’re not inspired, I think that’s even more challenging. So, I think it’s the same and my job is to create something fresh. I treat every season as if it’s my first. That’s how I keep it fresh. For me, I’m trying to stop changing the external factors. We can’t really control them. The only thing I can control is myself, my vision, my inner voices. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since I started my career is that I should always follow my heart. It’s always important to find satisfaction within yourself and not to be constantly seeking validation from outside.”
Hediprasetyo believes it’s futile to give advice to young designers. “I feel like it’s a bit misleading to do that,” he cautions. “I think that what works for me might not work for others and vice versa, because I tried to do that and I failed. I realised that everybody, of course, has to find their own way, their own path. I think that when you copy someone else’s path and story you will definitely get lost. At the end of the day, you have to express your own voice, so my only advice is to visualize your own vision within yourself.” The couturier is presenting his new collection virtually. With everything having gone virtual these days, Hediprasetyo says he has found it fascinating that in many ways people are now more connected than ever, especially with those who matter to them.
While grateful for the support he receives in Indonesia, Hediprasetyo admits that he doesn’t quite know what the future will hold for him. “It’s really hard to plan long-term these days,” he points out. “I’m going to take it season by season and see what happens. I’m taking it day by day and I aim to keep going with my life, to have a healthy mind, and to have fun with the creative process without sacrificing my inner peace.”