Swarovski crystals. French lace. And more feathers than the fanciest of birds.
These are just some of the defining features of Jakarta born Alston Stephanus’ fashion designs. In 2005 this creative young man created his own accessories company, redefining what Indonesian fashion was through mixing Victorian glamour with traditional Javanese Keraton. It’s nature and wildlife with elegance and a touch of whimsy, and it’s 100% Alston.
And what’s particularly amazing is that he never attended any sort of fashion school, his training all done on his own out of sheer determination. And a great deal of skill.
So how did Alston Stephanus Accessories get started? Alston says he “…was first drawn to fashion from [his] family, which gradually progressed into dressing up [his] friends for their special events like prom.” His hobby continued to grow and grow until he realized he needed to take the next step, so he created his “own accessories company based on what [he] loved to do. Connecting the animation world to reality by using unusually different materials to make accessories has always been a source of inspiration…”
With ten years of success behind him now, it’s hard to choose just one thing to be proud of. However, when it comes down to it, what he’s taken away from the previous decade is both humbling and powerful.
“I am proudest of the fact that I can present a fantasy interpretation of my motherland culture, Indonesia, for the world to see.”
On a world stage that is so dominated by high end European fashion, the fact Alston can, in some way, highlight the rich culture and creativity of Indonesia is wonderful. It’s an exploration of an aesthetic not as well known, and his pioneering is to be commended. One of his muses is Dewi Sri, the Indonesian Rice Goddess. Her elaborate headpieces and representation of the harvest and nature is clearly seen throughout a lot of his work, and the fact Alston can and does use traditional Indonesian lore and is being celebrated for it is quite significant in the fashion world.
Alston’s Keraton inspired Queen Amidala costume was 1 of 15 selected to compete in the “Best of Star Wars” category at the Disney D23 Expo Costume Competition. In addition he designed a high fashion Darth Vader for The Masterpiece Strikes Back: A Fashion Exploration last year. But I’ll have more on that when the force strikes back in December ;).
His cosplay portfolio is one to be admired, not only for the amazing pieces he’s created, but for the vision and re-creation, especially with his Maleficent and R2D2/Megaman. It’s good to know that nerds are everywhere. You can find more of his cosplay photos on his instagram.
From heroic myths to fantastical fairy tales, Alston’s inspiration is drawn from anything and everything whimsical; be it from nature, science fiction, anime, comics, or fantasy.
So what is his ultimate goal? “My vision for the Alston Stephanus Accessories brand would be to design accessories for something along the lines of the Star Wars films, or American Horror Story, Grim, Once Upon A Time, Game of Thrones, and The Librarians. Anything with a sense of fantasy and fairytale.” And he’s well on his way to doing that.
Luc Besson’s upcoming sci-fi project Valerian and The City of A Thousand Planets is holding a costume design contest and Alston is hard at work creating the perfect entry for this sci-fi odyssey. So what’s the challenge?
“Designers are asked to create a piece that could be worn by a human, alien, humanoid or any other intergalactic creature you can think of. The scene for which you are designing will take place at a political cocktail party inside a space station called Alpha and the year is 2580. Designers are encouraged to get inspired by the video to the right and read more about the costume specifications and film below.” [Source]
Twenty designers will be chosen by Filmmaker Luc Besson, Editor in Chief of Yahoo Style Joe Zee and Valerian Costume Designer Olivier Bériot. Those twenty will receive a $1,000 prize and might just have their design created and worn by actors in the film.
Least to say, Alston is more than excited about the contest that could put him one step closer to his dream of designing for film. He says that it would, of course, be amazing to win, but there’s also many possibilities that could come from his design. He’s just happy to be creating. And so are we, because we have exclusive illustrations and photos of his contest entry!
“My design is inspired from a Javanese knight.” In keeping with his roots, Javanese culture has been a hallmark of Alston’s work since the beginning. And it’s that same muse, Dewi Sri, that has inspired his design. From the headpiece that is inspired by grass and rice fields (Dewi Sri is the Goddess of Rice) to the body of the design that represents “Ray of Light” (she protects against hunger, hence sun to make the harvest grow), it’s frankly, rather stunning. And more importantly, rich in culture.
“I’m making a female version of the traditional armor and bringing in a sense of nature as well.” This costume is his version of royalty at war and will include full metal works in the skirt. The shoulder piece is even based off traditional Wayang armor. It’s appropriate for Valerian because it is definitely out of this world.
In the end, this might of fashion ingenuity wants to “make Alston Stephanus Accessories not just a brand, but also a lifestyle.” From wearable pieces of art to ingenious cosplay to movie worthy design, I daresay he’ll make it.