Indonesia’s National Children’s Day was celebrated earlier this week on 22nd July and I would like to acknowledge all the children I know that have touched my heart and brought sunshine to my days and I would especially like to dedicate this day to a very special friend of mine, Indonesia’s youngest Fashion Designer, Rafi Abdurrahman Ridwan.
Rafi celebrated his 10th birthday on July 20, 2012, and this date also marked the anniversary of his first fashion show held at Canteen in Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta. His second Womenswear collection was shown at Jakarta Fashion Week last November which is a very prestigious event and an incredible accomplishment for someone of his age.
To mark his 10th birthday, Rafi aspired to show his first Childrenswear collection and to involve all his dearest friends in making his dream a reality. This was to be no ordinary show, but an extremely special event, where the models would be chosen from his former classmates and best friends from SLB Santa Rama Cipete Deaf School, as well as Rafi’s younger sister, Rafa.
Rafi has such huge compassion for a child his age and he is grateful for all the people that have believed in him and given him the opportunity to realise his dreams and overcome his illnesses throughout his life. His aim is not for success alone, but to also involve his friends and community to share his happiness and give them inspiration to follow their dreams, as well as to help other disadvantaged and ill children. So with the help of his wonderful parents Shinta and Ridwan, his grandmother and the special people in his life, he set about preparing for his mini show to be held at the Hijabersmom Community ‘Lovely Moment for Lovely Kids’ event held on July 22, 2012.
Rafi not only sketched the garments for this special show, but he also designed the textile patterns for the fabrics to be used, which were filled with his trademark use of many colours and bold graphic elements for his theme of flowers and nature. With the assistance of fellow members of his deaf community, Nada Sirait and Nathania, the sketches were transformed into graphic elements for printing onto fabric and the Hijabersmom Community and fellow friends had the honour of transforming Rafi’s sketches into wearable garments.
Arriving at the Auditurium Sosrobahu at The H Residence in Cawang on the morning of the show, the atmosphere was filled with excitement and nerves as Rafi arrived with his family and friends. An exhibition of artwork from children in the community as well as Rafi’s fashion illustrations, were hung on the walls and t-shirts printed with Rafi’s amazing sketches were sold at the front door and were worn by a special group of young street musicians who performed for ‘Hari Anak Nasional’ (National Children’s Day), so the venue was filled with bright colour and laughter. There were media interviews held as the final decorations were put in place and the models waited patiently to have their hair and make-up done and were adorned with gorgeous accessories made from clay in the theme of nature as per Rafi’s wish. Indonesian model Laura Mulyadi selflessly volunteered her time to practise the runway steps with the children, as she has been involved with the Ridwan family since Rafi’s first fashion show, where she was one of the models chosen for the catwalk.
A video presentation of the two ill children who Rafi would be sending donations to from the proceeds of the event was shown, and a clay making workshop, musical performance, prayer reading and talk show were held before Rafi’s Fashion Show, so the children were filled with smiles and happiness before taking to the stage.
There were 14 outfits showcased and included silk dresses, shorts and jackets and the mini show itself was adorable to watch as nerves got the better of some of the young children whilst others took the spotlight in their stride and confidently walked the runway looking beautiful in the colourful designs. Rafa, who is very shy by nature, shone on the stage as she walked alone wearing one of her older brother’s gorgeous yellow floral dresses and Rafi took to the stage to loud cheers and smiles from the audience, his nerves finally disappearing and replaced by a huge grin.
Following the progress of the show with the Ridwan family from design stage to choosing models, meetings with sponsors and a trip to the printers in Bandung, to the final event has been filled with so much emotion, tears, and a learning process for all involved in putting together a Fashion Show in such a short time frame.
To Rafi’s parents, and all those that volunteered their time and resources into making Rafi’s dream a reality, I know for certain he will be eternally grateful, and will continue to give back to the community all the love and support that he receives from so many people in his life, and he will continue to help those in need while he fills this world with colour and magic through his wonderful visions and designs.