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Building a fashion empire
Publication Date : 21-03-2013
Indonesian designer Tex Saverio is the very embodiment of natural talent and persistence
Looking like a character straight out of a manga comic, couture designer Tex Saverio stands out wherever he goes.
Clad in a black suit, his jet-black straight hair reaches his shoulders and bangs descend to his eyes. His dark brown eyes are lined with a black dash; his face is sleek and his complexion fair.
Tex Saverio is a name not easily spelled by many Indonesians, let alone pronounced. But this is the place he calls home.
“I’m Jakartan born and bred, a totally local product. Peculiar as it is, Tex Saverio is my real name,” he said with a smile, sitting at a chic bistro in South Jakarta recently.
The 28-year-old designer says he still can't get over the excitement of having US television personality Kim Kardashian wear a dress he designed for a photo shoot in early February. The shot will be used in the March edition of the US version of Elle magazine.
“The dress was one of the designs I presented during last year’s Jakarta Fashion Week. I had only a very short amount of time to prepare it for Kim but I’m glad it turned out well,” he said.
Tex attracted the attention of fashionistas and became a veritable sensation at the 2010 Jakarta Fashion Week, where he first staged his haute couture collection, “La Glacon”.
His edgy, theatrical and ornate creations awed fashion lovers and many of them compared his designs to those by the late British designer Alexander McQueen.
The limelight then shone on Tex again when his black tulle gown, embroidered with silk organdy and taffeta embellishments, was donned by pop diva Lady Gaga in the May edition of US Harper’s Bazaar last year.
And recently, the Jakarta native has debuted one of his creations in a Hollywood feature film, the much-anticipated Hunger Games: Catching Fire, releasing this November.
Heroine Katniss Everdeen (played by the Oscar-winning Jennifer Lawrence) wears his creation as her white wedding dress.
In ruffled skirt and corset organza, the gown carries the structure of a vignette of the seminal “La Glacon”.
Trish Summerville, the movie’s costume designer, told The Hollywood Reporter that she and Tex exchanged sketches through Skype to design the bridal gown, after she had seen the dress he designed with a metal bodice.
The result of their collaboration was a fairy-like gown with a bodice, Summerville said, that was “a Swarovski-crystal-clad organza corset under a metal cage”.
So where did it all begin for Tex? An avid fan of manga comic books and a gifted sketcher, he had started to draw in junior high school, taking inspiration from his favorite series "Rose of Versailles", a fictional account of France during the Marie Antoinette era. Then, about a decade ago, he decided to quit his education to pursue his passion - something his parents had a hard time coming to terms with.
“I was enrolled as a senior at an elite high school in West Jakarta. Getting admitted to the school was very difficult and my parents thought that I was wasting the chance," he said.
“But I knew where I wanted to go. I asked for their support and fortunately, they understood and gave me their blessings,” he said.
After enrolling at the Bunka School of Fashion in Jakarta and taking an apprenticeship with the Phalie Studio, under a mentor he calls Miss Patricia, he embarked on a professional venture in 2006.
“Between that year and 2010, I learned a lot about the fashion industry in Indonesia and especially in Jakarta. I saw that the market here had certain preferences,” he said.
In July 2010, after years of catering to clients’ demands, Tex had the chance to flex his fashion muscles by showing a collection with three other young designers at a prominent hotel in Central Jakarta, presenting “My Courtesan”, which was inspired by comic books and the movie, Moulin Rouge.
When preparing for the show, Tex hesitated, fearing his style wouldn’t be accepted by the public. He designed a sequence of dresses he described as “following what the market wants”.
“But then I realised that I had to be honest with myself and followed my heart. I was going to either fly or fall with the show,” he said. Needless to say, that philosophy has worked out exceedingly well for him.
Tex is now preparing for another giant step in his life and career - the launch of his global ready-to-wear collection - which will come about in 2014.
“To have a globally successful label is the dream of all designers, and it's the same for me. Considering the dynamic and positive developments of the fashion industry in Indonesia, I think it’s high time for Indonesian designers to go global,” said the designer, who will turn 29 this August.
He said the ready-to-wear collection did pose challenges in terms of designing and manufacturing processes.
“My designs are characterised by drama and fantasy, with intricate details. My ready-to-wear collection should maintain the Tex Saverio DNA but is interpreted as something more down to earth and wearable,” he said.
For this project, Tex teamed up with his siblings Faye and Warren, who have decades of family experience in the apparel trading and manufacturing industry.
“We are targeting to make my ready-to-wear collection available for the upscale market in the US and Europe, but we are going to put more of a focus on the Asian market,” he said.
He expects the new direction to be the start of a larger plan. “We are planning to have our own cosmetic line, perfume collections and the like in the years to come.”
“The House of Saverio will not only be an Indonesian fashion brand, but will also be a global lifestyle brand. It’s going to be an empire,” he said.