Controversy as Priyo Oktaviano Steps Down from Dewi Fashion Knights

We thought we could finally sit down and take a breath following the end of Jakarta Fashion Week 2015, but as soon as we did, we became winded with a piece of news that winded us all over again.

On Tuesday, November 11, Priyo Oktaviano voluntarily stepped down from the Dewi Fashion Knights program. This prestigious incubator and mentoring program gives promising young Indonesian designers a head start n the fashion industry through mentoring programs and more.

There have been no statements from either Dewi or Priyo himself as to why he actually stepped down, but backstage whispers and speculation suggest that his fall from grace had something to do with photos that surfaced after JFW 2015, which that pointed out similarities between Priyo’s African Blu collection the Prabal Gurung FW 14 collection.

(Image source: Sadikin Gani, The Actual Style)

(Image source: Sadikin Gani, The Actual Style)

On the left is a piece from the Prabal Gurung FW ’14 collection, and on the right is something from Priyo’s collection that walked at JFW 2015. Even the untrained eye cannot deny the glaring similarities: the slit on the left thigh, the racerback top, the black faux-bandolier accent. and the monochrome strips by the left ribs. Unfortunately, this was not the only piece that looked like raised suspicions: the entire African Blu collection seems to have been generously “inspired” by the entire Prabal Gurung FW 14 show, like this two-piece number and this dress.

Sadikin Gani of The Actual Style makes a good point about the way that Dewi Fashion Knights designers are selected: he posited that while it was clearly wrong of Priyo to be adding modifications to the work of other designers and passing it off as his own, the bigger responsibility lay with the Dewi Fashion Knights program. They should have done a more thorough job of vetting each collection to make sure that it meets the standards of innovation and creativity. In the end, the Dewi Fashion Knights committee is at fault for letting plagiarism fly under the radar.

This is heavy because this means that the spot Priyo has been occupying as a Dewi Fashion Knight for few years could have gone to another designer with more originality. This is not to say that Priyo is some talenteless hack! He did incredible work with Lampung tapis at JFW 2014’s Dewi Fashion Knights show. He is a talented man who made a mistake and is in the process of paying for that mistake. I sincerely hope he comes back from this experience with more wisdom and originality than ever.

But more than that, I look forward to see what lessons that the Dewi Fashion Knights has learned from this. I wonder if they’ll be taking and new steps to make sure something like this never happens again, and I certainly hope this serves as a warning alarm to Indonesian designers who think they can get away with plagiarism.