Sunday, November 16, 2008
Clothes as Art:Fit for a Queen, Made by Street Kids
Who would have thought that hidden away, just down the block from local food stands, would be a mansion museum displaying the wearable art of Harry Darsono. Reputedly Indonesia’s only haut couture designer, Harry has made, sold, and bought back dresses created for Princess Diana, Queen Rania of Jordan, and a host of other royals. Although he was born into a wealthy Indonesian family, Harry caused quite a stir in his youth because his dyslexia and ADHD left him hyperactive and violent. It was only when his spirit was calmed through a deep fascination with a spinning wheel that his true brilliance shone through. Since then, Harry has shown his genius in art, couture, and music. But, he insists that there is no such thing as talent, just dedication and determination. His designs require enormous focus, many of them are hand-made from literally millions of individually tied knots. One of his floor length skirts is woven entirely from threads made of gold. With the same enthusiasm that he brings to his art, Harry has started a foundation that has established hundreds of “transition houses” across Indonesia. These homes have provided more than 4,500 youth - often street kids - who have the same psychological and learning problems Harry encountered early in life with the focus and skills they need to transform their lives. There is no doubt that Harry knows and loves many of these children on a personal level, and that this is his finest work.