From Jakarta to New York, L.A., and then to Bali, 24-year-old Audrey Akman is an up-and-comer in the fashion world. Words: Danziel Carre. Photos: Vicky Tanzil.
AUDREY, when and how did you first get into fashion?
I’d wanted to go to fashion school since I was maybe four or five because I was so inspired by Disney movies … especially Cinderella. I remember asking my mom: “When I grow up, I want my job to be making beautiful gowns like that – what kind of profession is that called?”
She said: “Fashion design.” So ever since I have been obsessed with gowns and wedding dresses, evening gowns and stuff like that. I think they are the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
What were you up to in the States?
I worked for a bridal and eveningwear company in New York starting from sophomore year at fashion design school. After graduation, I went to L.A. and worked as a costume designer at a cabaret lounge, in a jewellery shop, and for a young start-up womenswear company. I thought it was a great challenge to see if I could handle a small company of my own – working under the owner, following her every step and learning as much as I could. Another good offer came up, but after contemplating for a long time I decided to start my own business in Jakarta because there are more opportunities there.
What’s the coolest project you worked on in L.A.?
The choreographer from the lounge was working on a project with Lady Gaga’s choreographer for Nikki Minaj’s Grammy Awards 2012. They initially wanted Versace to do all of Nikki’s costumes, but because of budget issues they decided to give me the project instead – because I’d done costumes before. Versace ended up designing her red carpet robe, while I designed the costumes for everyone in her performance on stage. I also did Nikki and her dancers’ costumes for the NBA half-time show.
How did you start your jewellery business?
Arriving back in Jakarta, I wanted to do bridal-wear, but it’s really hard to find pattern makers in Indonesia. During a Christmas vacation on Bali I saw an opportunity to make jewellery because the level of craftsmanship here is amazing – it was an easy transition for me because I was doing intricate headpieces when I made my thesis collection. The company started about six months ago, but we’re not selling yet – maybe January. I want to be really well prepared. I know people will appreciate something that is done whole-heartedly.
Any other business ventures on the go?
I’m in the process of making a “discovery lounge” – it’s a new concept that I am developing. It’s a place that emphasises human connection, with a high sense of art and appreciation of life – a place where people can go and meet others, try new food and drinks, view different art installations and jewellery displays. I want to create a place that moves with time.
So do you aim to be the next Gucci, Prada, etcetera?
I want to be like Coco Chanel when she began – when the range was still designed by her. She made a statement through her art and fashion – that women should wear something comfortable, chic and beautiful, and not be constricted by rules and corsets. She defined her target market – women who were breaking out of the shell in those days. The items created during that period are artifacts now because the people wearing them had a statement to make. When that statement is represented in fashion, you can never get bored with it.
Growing up, did you do other kinds of art as well?
Definitely. I love to paint. I usually like to draw in pencil and pastel. I also paint with acrylic. I am planning to refine my oil painting in the future, maybe when I’m old and not so productive. I played flute and piano a long time ago but my passion was for art and philosophy.
What else do you do for fun?
I like to play tennis with my family, watch movies, go out with my friends, blow off some steam with Muay Thai . . . when the weather is nice I practice my surfing. I love photography, reading books, shooting, outdoor activities, travelling! I love travelling.
Muay Thai and shooting … no one should mess with you then?
I want to know how to fight, in case I have to. I’m not going down easy.