Jakarta. In a couple of days, we are going to welcome the Islamic month of daylight fasting, Ramadan, which is marked by fast-breaking with family members, friends and colleagues every night after sunset.
It is also a time to see and be seen, and fashion designers launch their festive collections for Ramadan and Idul Fitri.
One of them is Ivan Gunawan.
The entertainer-cum-designer has recently launched "Fatamorgana," the festive collection of his Muslim wear label Mandjha Hijab.
"For Muslim fashion designers, the fasting month and Idul Fitri are like harvest time," Ivan said in an interview before the fashion show in Jakarta on April 25.
"We have to be real good in anticipating the market's demands."
The collection is inspired by Indian culture.
"I was really inspired by India's exotic culture and architecture when designing this collection," the designer said. "And I've made them into a collection that is easy to wear and easy to mix and match."
The fashion show opened with a series of tunics and palazzo pants in soft pastel hues. Floral prints and layered ruffles adorn some of the items.
"Based on our market survey, our customers love pastel colors," the designer, also known as Igun, said. "But we also have some items in white color for Idul Fitri."
Clever, yet unusual color compositions also highlight Ivan's Mandjha Hijab new collection.
For example, a pleated skirt is enhanced with color blocks of teal and gray. In another look, Ivan paired a maroon dress with a mint green vest. And yet, somehow, the unusual compositions resulted in elegant, harmonious looks.
"I'm a self-taught designer and I like to experiment," Igun said. "I believe all colors are friendly, if you just know how to put them together."
"When people dream, they usually get up, wash their face and forget their dreams," Ivan said. "But I'm not like that. When I have a dream, I have to have it realized."
Igun's strong ambition is perhaps the driving force behind his success, both as entertainer and fashion designer.
Today, the designer has five clothing labels, including his exclusive evening wear label Ivan Gunawan, bridal wear Love by Ivan Gunawan, men's wear Jajaka, women's ready-to-wear Miss to Mom and Muslim wear Mandjha Hijab.
For Mandjha Hijab, the designer currently operates nine stores in Java and Makassar (South Sulawesi).
He also plans to open 13 more stores for the brand by the end of this year.
"It's really a fast-growing market," he said.
Born in Jakarta on Dec. 31, 1981, Igun fell in love with fashion when he was still a toddler. At that time, his family was still living in a big house in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, with several aunties and uncles. One of the uncles was a celebrated fashion designer, Adjie Notonegoro. He had a boutique and workshop on the ground floor of the house.
Little Igun was awed by his uncle's work and celebrity customers.
After finishing high school, Igun expressed his desire to learn fashion. His father, however, refused to finance the dream.
Undaunted, Igun became an apprentice at his uncle's workshop. He worked hard and learned a lot about tailoring and designing.
Seeing his nephew's talents diligence, he made him one of the designers at Studio 18 by Adjie Notonegoro in year 2000.
But Igun always wanted to have his own label.
Having gained enough knowledge and expertise from working with his uncle, the designer decided to part ways with him and started his own evening wear label Ivan Gunawan in 2004.
His glamorous evening gowns were soon seen on Indonesia's top singers and actresses.
But Ivan does not stop there. His dream is to all Indonesians wearing his clothes.
"It is my dream to have 250 million Indonesians wearing my designs," he said.
Therefore, he launched more affordable, ready-to-wear collections.
"I'm giving what most customers want, which is good designs and good materials at affordable prices," he said.
Designing good and affordable dresses is not easy. However, with his creativity and strong business sense, Ivan does just that for Mandjha Hijab.
With prices starting from Rp 299,000 ($21), Igun offers glamorous designs for Idul Fitri.
In the final sequence of the show, tunics made of satin silk and layers of lace, appeared on the catwalk. Some of them were combined with structured jackets and overcoats made of elegant duchess silk.
Unique arabesque prints adorned some of the items.
Mandjha's pants and skirts are equally exquisite. Some of them are made of sheer lace, overlaid with silk chiffon. In another look, Igun paired a neatly tailored sapphire jacket with a floral skirt, overlaid with sheer tulle, which added a touch of glam to the look.
"I take pride in the fact that all the materials are made in Indonesia," the designer said.
The fashion show culminated with a model wearing a multi-layered sky blue silk-chiffon dress. Golden embroideries embellished the hemline.
The audience broke into rapturous applause.
"Apparently, Ivan has a strong business insight," Poppy Dharsono, chairwoman of the Indonesian Fashion Designers and Fashion Entrepreneurs Association (Appmi), said after the show. "He knows what the customers want."
"His designs and choice of materials are excellent," Poppy continued.
Igun is also collaborating with singer Rossa, his good friend and old flame, to create a new clothing label for kids, Mini Me.
"It will be launched very soon. Just wait," he said.