Self-styled fashion designer Dimas Dwitanto dreamt too big for small town life.
Hi Dimas! Could you tell us where you are from and how you grew up?
I was born and raised in a small kampung near Jogjakarta in central Java, the youngest (and most spoiled) son in a family of six children; there wasn’t so much money around but we had a good life with lots of happiness and love. A happy and care-free childhood, after school with friends playing in the jungle, swimming in the river and helping out my father in his sawah.
Was there one event that occurred during your early years that taught you a life lesson?
Growing up I realized my dreams were too big for a small kampung life and directly after high school I went to Jakarta to explore the world.
Where did the interest in fashion design come from?
I’ve always been interested in fashion, and I grew up in a culture where women often wore beautiful traditional kebaya and sarong. I think I was especially influenced seeing my mother dressing up in kebaya and batik sarong when she went out to an event. I was always busy drawing people, mostly women, so when I came to the big city of Jakarta, where I was introduced to fashion for the first time, I found myself sketching dresses and dresses and dresses.
First just for fun, but later I sold quite a lot of these sketches. It grew from there and became my business.
What’s the hardest thing about working in the design business?
There’s a lot of competition, it’s not just fun and games; just being artistic is not enough, I also need to be a businessman in order to make my brand grow. I am always on the lookout for opportunities. At the moment we have consignment sales in Bali and Singapore and of course we sell in my Studio/Boutique in Kerobokan, but I’m still looking for further expansion.
How would you like a girl to feel after she puts on a Dimas dress?
She will feel special but still herself. A Dimas helps to make her feel confident, and when she enters a room she will not go unnoticed; people will see and admire her.
Where does the inspiration come from for your designs?
It comes from everywhere. Coco Chanel once said: “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Or as Stefano Gabbana said: “Fashion takes its inspiration from society and everyday life, which is the same for everyone.” What more is there to say?
Practically, how involved are you in your designs? Is it completely hands on?
I am involved in every aspect of my dresses from beginning to end . . . the sketches, the fabrics, the patterns . . . building up the dress with lace, embroidery and beadings . . . it’s all done by me or monitored by me. I need to touch and feel everything before we use it.
Describe the Dimas style.
The style is simple, elegant and chic, with everything available for any occasion, whether it’s a day at the beach-club, an afternoon cocktail party, or a night out on the town. Our style is for women eager to show attitude without indecency. I also love to work with lace, so there is always lace involved in my designs. This and handmade beading embroidery is an important part of the signature look of a Dimas piece.
Ok, you’ve been banished to a deserted island for six months… what three things can’t you do without?
Three things? That would be Aiko, Harry and Zora, my dogs. Which means I would miss my cats a lot.
If you weren’t a fashion designer, what would you be doing?
Still something in fashion, maybe a make-up artist or even better a stylist. There’s nothing more fulfilling than transforming Cinderella into a princess.
Do you tend to follow fashions with your designs?
My designs come as they are, trend or not, that artistic part of my brain tells my hand what to draw and does not care about trends. Most of my designs are timeless. But of course the world does influence me and with that my designs.
Fantastic. When will we next have lunch?
Maybe after this interview?