Jovian Mandagie is no stranger to the local fashion world. A designer that’s young and upcoming with fashion trends, he made yet another milestone by showcasing his latest Jovian by Jovian Mandagie RTW (ready-to-wear) collection on ZALORA, Malaysia. On Thursday 16th August, he launched his own “Jovian Boxing Day” at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, where the last exclusive batch of his coveted RTW designs for Raya was up for grabs! (The first few batches sold out the minute they hit our site!). We are thrilled to have Jovian on board and grace us with his designs. I was lucky enough to catch up with him with a short Q&A session. *Check out the latest Jovian by Jovian Mandagie RTW 2012 – Aidiladha collection available now on ZALORA!*
The interview was scheduled on Friday 13th, I and one of the photographers reached the picturesque Jovian Mandagie flagship boutique that sat on Jalan Maarof, Bangsar around 4 pm. I had driven past this boutique countless of times, but never had the chance to drop in. The boutique looked inviting with its elaborate window displays and the ‘Jovian mannequins’ always looking their best.
We were buzzed into the boutique, and two of Jovian’s lovely assistants greeted us. They offered us each a cup of coffee while waiting for Jovian to arrive. I walked about and took in my surroundings. The boutique had a cosy feel, spacious, with nice hardwood floors and plush décor: leather ottomans and plush rugs. The racks were full of Jovian’s couture pieces, one side was dedicated to Jovian’s bridal wear. The mannequins in the boutique looked very statuesque, tall and slender adorned with Jovian’s couture creations and there was just enough sunlight coming in which made them look all the more ‘perfect’.
After snapping several photos and taking a look around his boutique, Jovian arrived. He walked in briskly and greeted us, a firm handshake was given and we proceeded to his private office. “Shall we?,” he said with a smile. I walked in and sat down on his leather sofa, in his private haven, and so began our Q&A.
Q: Do you have a person or muse that inspires you?
A: “Well, when I was back in Jakarta, I was lucky enough to land my internship with Biyan,” said Jovian. Biyan Wanaatmadja is a renowned Indonesian designer, famous for his couture pieces with a total of 25 years of experience in the fashion industry. (Checkout this feature on Biyan by Butterboom, HK.).
“I admired Biyan because he started his career in Indonesia itself, he believed in starting regionally. Just like him, I envision being comfortable in my own region. Why waste the opportunity to do great regionally?” said Jovian. Apart from Biyan, Jovian also added that he admires other designers such as Valentino, Elie Saab and Alexander McQueen – McQueen “……..he’s daring and rarely influenced by the trends, just like Jovian Mandagie!,” exclaimed Jovian.
Q: I understand you kick-started your career in Jakarta. What’s your view in terms of the style differences between women in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur?
A: “While I was doing my internship with Ivan Gunawan, (an Indonesian designer) I was a student. During this time he introduced me to Rossa (the talented Indonesian singer) and Ratu (an Indonesian girl-group). I was lucky enough to be given the chance to design costumes for each of their concerts!
When Jovian came back to Kuala Lumpur, his breakthough moment came during the Anugerah Bintang Popular (ABP) event. “My first opportunity to design was for the singer, Ning Baizura. I was introduced to her through her P.A and I went on to design her dress for ABP 2007. I also designed bridal dresses for friends,” said Jovian.
As for the style differences that are evident, Jovian says “Jakarta women are less ‘traditional’”, in the sense that Indonesian’s always crave for new things. They are more adventurous and open to trying new styles. Kuala Lumpur women, on the other hand, are quite conservative. The majority of ladies choose to be ‘safe’ but that trend is slowly evolving! Today we see the Malaysian crowd, socialites and celebrities are becoming more daring with their fashion choices.
Jovian adds that he wants Jovian Mandagie designs to change the Malaysian mentality and push the fashion boundaries.
Q: How do you take your designs from the conceptual process to the final product? And what is your favourite part about this design process?
A: Jovian shares the design process:
There are 3 main stages. First, he works on the rough sketches or drawings. “Usually I churn out 100-150 sketches, and probably out of that batch, I will pick out 30-50 and then pick out the best from there,” said Jovian.
Second: Jovian concludes the mood and feel of the collection and then he moves onto the 3rd step, working with the purchasing department. “This is when I travel and source for my raw materials. For example, I have travelled to several different countries to source for materials such as Italy, France, as well as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand,” said Jovian. He also added that all the materials and beads are hand selected himself.
The other stages include production. This involves cutting, sewing, draping and detailing. “Although this process can be quite tedious, it is also rewarding as this is my favourite part of the design process! It feels great to see my designs coming together,” says Jovian.
Lastly, is the arrangement for his fashion show: the production of the show and how to showcase his collection as well as involvement with the media.
Although Jovian has been doing this for the past 6 years, he feels he is continuously learning. Designing is always a learning process, no matter how long you have been in the industry. Ensuring the production is a whole learning process for him, especially while working on his new Jovian by Jovian Mandagie RTW collection.
Each time Jovian designs, it’s refreshing as there are new developments and challenges. He is constantly improving and harnessing his sketches and design skills.
“When designing a real gown, there are many things to consider such as how to cut it, ensemble it, how to do the paneling, choice of materials and weight of the garment. These are the things that one must consider when putting a garment together,” says Jovian.
Jovian shares that he usually makes mock-ups, sometimes up to 5 times for each design! “I will scratch the design if it doesn’t work. I usually trust my gut, if it doesn’t feel ‘right’, I won’t even put it out! At the end of the day, it’s important that I am happy and confident with the designs that I present,” said Jovian.
Q: What type of ‘woman’ do you envision wearing JOVIAN designs? Describe her.
A: The type of woman that wears Jovian RTW is ladylike, demure, sophisticated and elegant.
“I really do believe that sophisticated is the new sexy!” exclaimed Jovian.
From 2009-2012, Jovian spent a lot of time doing his research prior to making his decision to do his first RTW collection. He conducted surveys to find out what people want to wear, and what an affordable price range was. Detailed research was important to ensure that this new RTW line is very affordable but still retained the look and quality that all Jovian Mandagie designs have.
“This is a luxury product, full service: it has lovely packaging, and a low price of RM180 and above. Additionally, it is important to maintain the essence of JM, you can ‘still feel the Jovian touch’ in each creation, and that comes across in each garment in this RTW collection,” said Jovian. The collection will still maintain its intricate designs, detailed beading and still be stylish.
Q: What can we expect (in terms of styles) from Jovian by Jovian Mandagie RTW this upcoming Raya season?
A: For this collection, you can expect garments in vibrant colours: chic, colourful and bright! Jovian specifically didn’t limit the designs. Every design comes in 3 colours, giving everyone a different colour choice thus making them versatile: the garments can be worn from ‘day-to-night’ functions.
3 years of thought and research went into this RTW collection, on finding the right materials, as well as which colours and shades will flatter Asians or more specifically, Malaysian skin tones. The materials also have to suit the Malaysian weather to remain comfortable and stylish.
The JM RTW collection is special; you can Mix & Match it! Plus, these garments are wearable for any age group, from 20’s to 50’s or more. The collection is very universal.
Another unique thing about the Jovian by Jovian Mandagie RTW collection is that every piece from the collection is named with the letter “J”. (I.e: Jova, Jovanna, Janelle, Janorra etc) There are altogether 29 looks that come in 2-3 different colours.
“It was quite hard to come up with names with the letter ‘J’, but we managed to do it!,” said Jovian.
Q: What is your most memorable piece from this collection and why?
A: JOVA is his favourite piece from the whole collection. Jovian likes the Orange one best, although the design is available in several colours. This piece is memorable for Jovian as the idea for this particular design came to him 10 minutes the night before production!
“I always believe that the last minute ideas are always the best!,” said Jovian.
The JOVA comes in Orange, Navy Blue, Black & White. It’s a vibrant, chic piece from the collection.
Q: What are some of your styling tips for Raya fashion? Share with us…
A: “Avoid looking OTT (over-the-top). Don’t over-accessorize, don’t torture yourself and wear the right heels!,” laughed Jovian. Bear in mind that you will have to look decent for people while attending all the Raya events such as open houses, dinners etc.
When it comes to styling: be smart, bring extra accessories as you can help ‘change’ your look throughout the day.
Q: Why did you choose to showcase your collection on ZALORA Malaysia?
A: Jovian Mandagie was contacted by Shasha, head of Buying at ZALORA. Jovian was aware that ZALORA is vastly growing, and that by selling his designs on ZALORA will help reach a wider audience.
ZALORA offers good shopping experience, easy and straightforward. Within a few days your item is at your doorstep and that’s what JM wants to do. “I want to be able to serve my clients well,” adds Jovian.
Q: How do you feel about online shopping?
A: Online shopping is less of a hassle, and practical especially if you have a busy lifestyle and don’t have the luxury to try on all the clothes! Shopping online is easy as I don’t have to go to the store, I can even shop online in the convenience of my office. You can also get the best deals while shopping online.
Another advantage is that you are able to shop for a variety of items from around the world.
“I was getting a lot of requests from around the world from my fans, and this was one thing that sparked me to start selling online on ZALORA. I can reach a lot more clients and fans who are interested in my designs,” said Jovian.
Q: Are you an online shopper yourself? And if so, what type of items do you usually shop for?
A: “I love shoes! I change my shoes every day. The first thing I look for online are the latest shoe collections available.
Q: Share some personal tips on online shopping: (i.e.: how to get the best deals)
A: The best thing to remember about online shopping is the awareness of sizes. Know your size! If you’re not sure of what size to buy when you’re shopping online, try and find a similar style and take a look at your desired item at a shop. Try it on and see if the size ‘works’. Use that as a general guideline to shop for the right size online, to see if it works.
Also be smart on spending, gather several looks altogether before you decide to make a purchase!
Q: How do you think your collection will evolve, now that it’s readily available online through ZALORA Malaysia?
A: Jovian Mandagie started as a couture shop. Right now, I feel that this is a natural progression for JM; to create a Jovian RTW line as well as venture into Muslimah wear. Jovian hopes this is not a one-of collaboration, but would like to create 4 more collections! As for the future, “I would like to create a one-stop shop for casual wear, office wear, menswear and even kidswear. My dream is to have a department store with the likes of ZARA,” said Jovian.
Q: What new directions do you hope to move in the future, with regards to Jovian Mandagie and ZALORA Malaysia?
A: Jovian would like to expand into different collections and would also like to try to reach out in the regional market as well as Europe later on.
Q: Share with us a special Raya family tradition/ritual?
A: One of my family customs is on every 1st and last day of the fasting month, we all gather for a family feast. This also happens during Raya time, when everyone gathers back in Jakarta to enjoy lovely food and company.
“One of my sweetest memories, quite funny too, was when I was traveling with my mother to balik kampung to Cirebon. All flights were fully booked, so we had to take the train instead. We stayed in the coach for a 4 hour journey, where we had to stand throughout the whole way! It was quite exhausting but at the same time adventurous, as I hadn’t taken the train in a while. It was definitely a Raya memory that I will always remember!,” said Jovian.
After getting the chance to interview Jovian, and get a behind-the-scenes look of his work, Jovian Mandagie is definitely one designer to watch! For more info, visit: http://www.jovian.com.my/