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Ethnochic By Amanda Lestari

Fashion powerhouse Amanda Indah Lestari is the curator of a uniquely chic Indonesian style synthesized from the extraordinary woven fabric of Baduy, home of a protected indigenous Sudanese ethnic group with a history of weaving.

Baduy is a remote place, strangely, it is just a few hours out of Jakarta in Banten province and is home of a protected indigenous Sudanese ethnic group that likes to weave. They live a traditional life and shun much of the outside world, westerners and technology.

In Baduy Luar foreigners are not allowed to enter. The inner villages of Baduy Dalam are protected from the greater world by the embracing ring of Baduy Luar. There is no phone signal and no electricity. Instead the inhabitants weave by hand in the silence. They weave their ancient culture, stories and right of passage lessons into geometrical shapes.

Fashion powerhouse Amanda Indah Lestari is the curator of a uniquely chic Indonesian style synthesized from the extraordinary woven fabric of Baduy. She has tailored it exquisitely into high fashion and London Fashion Week did not fail to grasp the otherness of LEKAT Di Hati’s apparel in April.

As a major fashion force, Amanda Lestari has her eye on the international prize and is once again preparing to take this local label global.

“I’m preparing for Paris Fashion Week’s showroom and then we will take LEKAT to New York Fashion Week. It’s my biggest challenge to organize every look for a collection. And I am doing that right now,” she said.

The traditional weavers that have inspired Amanda for so long relentlessly spin their magic over the designer who continues in her push to bring these rare textiles to the wider fashion world.

“There is a real urgency to enable traditional weavers in Indonesia to continue with their work but they must be connected to marketing pathways that give their work wider scope.

“LEKAT has significant support from key players in the global market to expand and develop the collections. This creates much greater impact when it comes to offering support to the people behind the products: the traditional weavers,” she said.

In fact, Lestari and LEKAT have worked closely with the Baduy tribe for the past three years and expect to spend at least another half decade with these unique and talented people.

“Working with the weavers from Baduy is such a pleasure. Sheltered from outside influences, the tribe pours their appreciation of beauty and respect for culture through weaving their own textiles and to preserve the local traditions and cultures. The geometrical motifs also symbolize stages of life where an individual is formed through a series of ups and downs’, where endurance and passion will yield beautiful results.”

Over several collections Amanda Lestari has produced edgy fashion that integrates traditional textiles into contemporary designs that are practical while being statement making head spinners.

LEKAT is fun and irreverent but its signature style is like Indonesia itself; all epic colours, ancient stories and legends, diverse cultures and oneness.

“My role here is to translate the tradition through my design innovations. How to make people feel more comfortable and look chic and iconic when they are wearing LEKAT, and to truly appreciate our own cultural heritage here in Indonesia,” she said.

Amanda Lestari has already moved offshore and explored other remote and unique destinations in pursuit of inspiration and collections include odes to the Mongolian tribes on the Central Asian Steppe and to the indigenous Peruvian people.

“I’m currently in the process of researching the style native to Jhodpur in India. I try to exercise my ability to look at the world around us and decode its meaning and relationship in order to communicate and narrate the value behind each LEKAT design,” said Amanda from her Jakarta studio.

Amanda started her LEKAT career in the accessories design room. In fact, while pouring over LEKAT’s online collection it is impossible not to notice the repeated appearance of a series of wonderfully chunky beaded neckpieces that accessorize regularly in different forms and colours throughout every collection.

“I think it is one of my favorite items after the apparel.  It is something that is unique, edgy and of course it is comfortable when people wear it, and it can be useful in any occasion. The experiment was worth it,” she said.

Lovers of LEKAT Di Hati can look forward to seeing a ‘LEKAT home’ series that will transpose its fashion ideals onto domestic décor with accent and decorative stories for interiors.

There are no plans at present to develop more retail boutiques outside of the Jakarta flagship in the Kemang area. However, LEKAT pieces are available online at www.lekatdihati.com