Designing with Los Angeles weather in mind, Oscar Lawalata differentiated his casual separates with batik trim and colorblocking. Working with textile artists in his native Indonesia for almost 15 years, the Jakarta-based designer inserted batik into pockets, jacket linings and cord piping. The palette for the color blocks evoked a tropical panorama: kaffir lime, aqua, citrus yellow, orange, coral, slate blue, tan and brown.
The blouses, skirts and shorts were cut simply to be pulled over the head or on the waist. “I always like loose,” Lawalata said after his show in Los Angeles. “I find it’s more sexy.”
Lawalata scored a crowd pleaser in a reversible open-front jacket whose two sides — tan and cherry red — were cut with small slits to allow for subtle movement. He also hinted at a playful mood with a cream shorts set enhanced with baby blue stripes that lined the bib on the sleeveless top and also the pockets that peeked out from under the cuffed shorts.
On the other hand, some dresses were a little too shapeless, despite the darted seams running from shoulder to hem. One tan dress coat with a Mandarin collar looked flat-out frumpy. Moreover, the repetition of unremarkable styles detracted from his creativity. If he had pursued the line of thinking behind the reversible jacket and whimsical short set and jettisoned some of the sack dresses, he would have found a way to make his mark in the competitive women’s contemporary market.
Unlike his peer Ivan Gunawan, who also showed his line called Jajaka in Los Angeles under the patronage of the Indonesian government, Lawalata opted not to pervade his collection with batik and ikat. “We make it really modern, really clean,” he said. “There are little things to remind us of the culture.”