When her designs were modelled on the Indonesian Fashion Week stage, Christiana Kayat cried tears of pure happiness. As a designer from the Sikka distract, East Nusa Tengarra, she felt a resounding sense of hopelessness in terms of achieving local success. However, having her design, a woven dress with motifs from the Sikka area, shown on stage at the Jakarta Convention Centre is something she could never have dreamed of. She believes it is her greatest achievement.
“I am only a local designer, and for my work to be in Indonesia’s Fashion Week has brought great happiness to me and my family. I have to thank my mentor Misa Widiatmojo, without whom I might not have made in onto that stage”, Christiana said.
Sikka weaving is achieved through thorough mathematic equations. With many motifs that are manually worked, starting from picking cotton and spinning it, the yarn to the weaving process with traditional tools makes it different. Sikka tie weaving is unique, with multiple images representing a variety of stories with cultural meaning. For example, the mana hutu motif (four chicks being surrounded by their mothers) symbolises protection, while the kelang dala mawarni motif symbolises wisdom and purity of heart. When these images are woven into a dress, the model exudes power, inheriting the meaning each motif represents.
During Fashion Week, Christiana showcased a young, modern design. The responses from the audience were positive, with both national and international fashion designers praising her work. The fashion industry is filled with high-profile, influential figures - so when a local designer from NTT comes with their work, the pre-conceived idea that the country (island) is poverty stricken and underdeveloped tends to change, shifting to a more positive view.
In conversation with The Voice of Flores, Christiana explains that her work was appreciated by Popy Dharsono, a famous Indonesian designer. This approval was the confidence boost she needed to reignite the enthusiasm she had to create Sikka woven dresses – a concept that is now recognised and loved by much of the world, but particularly the fashion industry.
Christiana is currently busy with teaching a fashion design course in Maumere. Her goal has been to motivate her students to be consistent when diving into the world of design. The course itself, Lembaga Kursus dan Pelatihan (LKP) was put together by Christiana, with the inclusion of a full curriculum. In addition to handling the course institution, she was also entrusted with the responsibility to run the Jata Kapa Ikat Weaving Center owned by the Sikka Regency Government.
Oa Kein and Ifa Pagang, two course participants studying the Sikka ikat motifs spoke about being proud to receive an education from Christiana. Ifa Pagang explained that seeing the woven gowns at Indonesia Fashion Week ignited her interest and enthusiasm in innovative fashion, and she now dreams of creating original Sikka woven dresses and bringing them into mainstream fashion trends.
"I have a dream by learning from the course institutions taught by Christiana, once I was able to produce works from Sikka weaving with a more modern touch and still pay attention to its cultural identity". She further emphasized that Sikka weaving done by mothers in almost every corner of the village in Sikka district is not only as a traditional activity and demands to maintain the family economy but more than that is to construct cultural identity. This woman who graduated from the Bachelor of Mathematics Education at the University of Flores admitted that studying the course at Christiana was truly a valuable opportunity to maintain the cultural identity of Sikka's woven fabric when the fabric was in the form of a dress.
“My dream is to be taught by Christina”, Ifa Pagang said. She further emphasised that Sikka weaving performed by mothers all over the village is not only a traditional activity which aids in maintaining a steady income, but also a representation of their cultural identity. This woman who graduated from the Bachelor of Mathematics Education at the University of Flores believed that studying Christiana’s course was truly a valuable opportunity to maintain the cultural identity of Sikka's woven.
Written by Hengky Ola Sura.