Sunday, 20 September 2015

From Jakarta #1



First of all, congratulations to my fellow models at Grey Model Agency, Annabel  and  Frances who have walked for London based Chinese designer Youija Jin at LWF 2015. This is a great achievement for mature models and a real change in the representation and perception of older women. I applaud Youija for her foresight.
I am also absolutely delighted to share with Frances the honour of being in Hunger issue 9, in a Prada spread, 'with a host of golden age models'. The magazine was out on 17th September.

Behind the scenes @ Hunger. Model: me
I am in Jakarta now working on a fashion project as a fashion commentator, leaving to one side, for the time being, my model persona (I do mind this a lot, I doubt it I will have any opportunity to model here) and am really keen to meet people and discuss issues related to fashion design and body image.
I have only been here four days and the first two were taken up with tedious luggage searches and a long wait for my suitcase. I have got my luggage all right, sorted out various practicalities, got myself a smartphone and SIM card for my local calls, so now I can focus on the purpose of my visit.
On Friday evening I went to the annual party of Magdalene.co. for whom I had previously written. It was great to meet these very interesting women who are trying to challenge preconceived notions of femininity and are doing an amazing job on a shoestring budget.
I am still acclimatising. Not only is it hot - it has not rained for five months - but Jakarta is quite polluted and the traffic is unbelievable. It takes forever to get anywhere. I use taxis (like everyone else) and even Uber.  A simple trip to the nearest shopping centre can turn into a long wait in a traffic jam. This is not a city where you can walk, in many areas pavements are almost non existent and public transport not too good. I would find it hard to get into one of the very crowded busses.
The shopping malls are pretty incredible, there's so many of them, it seems that the best way to pass the time for people in Jakarta is to go shopping, window shopping or actual shopping. The malls are filled with the usual western brands, some of them are high end labels but also high street names like New Look, Top Shop and Debenhams, with prices that are pretty much the same as in the UK (and goods that are probably made in Indonesia, where labour is cheaper, but labelled New Look etc. etc.). I don't normally shop at New Look but one of my problems is that my feet are size 7. I saw some lovely shoes in a few shops stocking  local brands but Indonesian women tend to be petite, with feet to match. Only New Look seems to have shoes size 7 so I had to get a pair from there - I did not bring enough shoes from London and I needed some heels.
I went to the well known annual pop up market Brightspot market in the  Senayan City complex and  the work of a couple of designers caught my eye. Brightspot market is where emerging independent labels can be found, selling directly to the public.
As I walked around (when I could walk) I seemed to be the only woman with grey hair.  I went to a party at the Dutch Embassy and all the European ladies had coloured hair. Indonesian women of about my age who do not cover their head with a hijab, definitely colour their hair, which I believe tends to be less prone to greying than the hair of Caucasian women but it is so difficult to tell the age of the women I meet. I often look at men to compare because by and large they do not colour their hair (well I believe they do not) and I see that many middle aged men do not have grey hair at all, not noticeably so, thus it must be a genetic thing.
As a result I really do look very weird, sticking out like a sore thumb. I often get stared at especially since I have the habit of leaving my hair fully down - I like drying it naturally and I wash it everyday. Some people think it is a kind of white/blonde colour, a dye in other words. How bizarre!

Textile Museum , Jakarta
Yesterday I was at the textile museum with a former student of mine who told me that they recently had a fashion show in connection with the exhibition - a show  I missed, bad timing indeed. The textiles were magnificent, the display not so good - very few labels and at times I really did not know what I was looking at.
I will keep on updating this blog with news from my Indonesian 'adventure'. As soon as I get my passport back - now with the Immigration office for stamping - I will try to travel to Thailand and Vietnam. Might as well.  Jakarta is not so far from mainland Southeast Asia, I have visited Indonesia before but not the Southeast Asian mainland and am very curious to see it, especially Vietnam which I do not know at all.

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