Sparkling wedding gown in soft white tulle stands side by side a bright red ball gown with daring ruffles and embellishments in a classy little boutique. Feminine, classic and whimsical are the words to describe Monica Ivena’s creations, which were recently showcased at her first solo fashion show. Five years ago, her first dress was sewn specially for her mother; now, her clientele list includes celebrities, socialites and personalities around the country. Indonesia Tatler sits and chats with Monica to find out the story behind her success.
Why did you choose to be a fashion designer, especially of dresses and wedding gowns? And what’s your signature in designing? I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer at the age of 6. My favourite toys were pens and paper for designing clothes, and also makeup kits for dolling up—which is why I design dresses and wedding gowns. As for my style, feminine, classic and whimsical are the words.
What are the challenges in designing and how do you face them? Making a gown is quite a challenge; we have to constantly sharpen our creativity so that each creation is always beautiful, up to date and not monotone, yet still contains our own style. Designers also have to be observant in reading a client’s characteristics, because a dress has to fit her personality as well as an event’s concepts. This is why I ask a lot of questions during fitting—to answer all those criteria in creating the best gowns.
From where do you get your inspiration? Inspiration for a fashion show comes from all sources, although I normally get the most during my holidays. However, a client can also be my source of inspiration if I were to custom make a gown.
What, or who, helped you achieve success? Support from family and friends to stay humble have been very important. I dared to go after my dream thanks to my mother, husband, older sister, best friend and one of my teachers. They all believed that I had the talent and encouraged me to pursue it; all of them are present at all of my events.
Which accomplishments are you most proud of? Balancing being a designer and a mum is one of my highest achievements. The other one is how I became the designer today by saving pocket money back in the university days to buy a sewing machine. Until now, I’m still amazed about the result and also feeling grateful for that.
How do you measure success? Is there anything else you would like to achieve? Success for me means living to the fullest and feeling content with my achievements, which, for me, includes plans to expand the Monica Ivena brand to the level of Vera Wang’s atelier.
Any tips for young Indonesian fashion designers? I would say that they have to be confident and keep working on their dreams. Stay true to learning and creating even when success is right there in your hand.
(Text by Edith Emeralda; Photo by Winson Axioo; Make-up by Winnie Neuman)