Anniesa Hasibuan F/W 2017


“Let the beauty of what we love be what we do.” – Rumi

Shayla, hijabs, and khimar oh my. In case you can’t quite tell what I’m excited about, those are the headdresses which most women in most parts of the Muslim world wear to cover themselves. For the record, no, they are not burqas. They’re not burqas in the specific sense, because those can only be found in Afghanistan, and they’re not burqas in the general sense because they don’t cover the face. You can Google all of them if you don’t believe me; here, I’ll wait. … Basically, most Muslim women in the world, particularly Muslim women from South Asia and Africa, don’t wear a burqa, opting instead to cap their religious-proscribed commitment to modesty with a much more everyday piece of clothing. From a fashion perspective, there’s not much really exciting about the result. Or, at least, not yet. If Anniesa Hasibuan has anything to say about it, there soon might be.

The  Indonesian designer took last season’s New York Fashion Week by storm, brazenly debuting an entire line built around styles which the West has, at best, maligned and, in many cases, outright rejected. Her eponymous label returned on Tuesday, to 558 Washington Street, with her Fall / Winter 2017 collection “Drama,” attempting to distil the opulence and personality of her lived experience into hadith-approved haute couture. Now, many people will shun her effort for different reasons. One could decry her efforts as a religious insult, conforming to the letter of sharia but not its spirit for, if you’ll permit the translation:

“And tell women of faith to look away, and to conceal their bosoms, and not to display their beauty except what can be obviously seen […] and not to shake their feet, or else to make known what beauty they hide.” – Excerpt of Surah 24 Verse 31

Hasibuan is not kidding when she says “Drama.” A pageant of silver, bronze, and gold folds commandeered the runway, and the existing opulence was not so much accented but multiplied by pearls, jewels, and Swarovski gloves. At the same time, our designer took pains to build in breaths of sobering desert air, and many, many of her pieces are quite literally held together by the beautifully smooth and simple visage of notchless leather belts.

Clearly, Hasibuan’s handy with angular geometry. The problem is that I don’t think she really knows where to stop. Some of the shoulders on 2017’s full body dresses have so many ruffles and many layers, that I can’t help but think of Jerry’s pirate shirt. I also got the distinct sense that different halves of some two piece dresses didn’t quite match up, as feathers or cutaways made the bottom part too massive to complement the slim, well-proportioned top. The pantsuits, the rompers, the one piece dresses… those are a different story. With those, the crystals, opals, and dazzling geometric decorations find a very natural home.

In a masterstroke of minimalism, Hasibuan and her tailors have turned clothes into a perfectly body-shaped canvas, ready to house the shimmering grandeur of Bali. On a separate note, I was surprised by how much I liked what I think was a camel fur shawl. And, I have to admit, Hasibuan’s status as geometric wunderkind recovered itself, well mostly recovered itself, with her gold on black on gold on black fractal khimar. You’re definitely going to want to buy one which, as far as I can tell, means you’re going to need to make a pilgrimage to the Indonesia Fashion Gallery in Manhattan, or else order from Hopefully, you will fall in love with more beautiful things you didn’t know existed.