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Designer Paul Ropp’s latest collection showcases his non-conformist ideals and belief, writes Nadia Badarudin
THE name Paul Ropp, a design stalwart on the Balinese fashion scene, is synonymous with whimsical designs in vibrant colours.
Inspired by the lively, sun-kissed island of Bali, his home for the past 30 years, Ropp’s flamboyant creations reflect his fundamentals in dressing up individuals who value sensual freedom and seek individuality.
In designing clothes for modern Muslim women, Ropp, whose label can be found in more than 30 countries, seems comfortable to not conform to the stereotype that black is the only colour in Islamic fashion.
His Absolute Dazzling resort wear collection, showcased at the recent Islamic Fashion Festival in Bali, was a translation of his non-conformist ideals and belief that being devout does not mean being drab.
RIOT OF COLOURS
Every piece in Ropp’s collection screams out his signature tropical rock ‘n’ roll fun-in-the-sun style, combined with casual elegance.
Be it flowy dresses or caftans, or printed pants and skirts, the collection is rich in texture and does not have the slightest hint of the stereotypical images of black or dull-coloured jubah, abaya and hijab.
Ropp’s expressive work features eclectic combinations of clothing made of light materials such as silk, silk chiffon and brocade in colour extravaganza.
Each piece is embellished with beads and flower appliques, and finished with silk fringes, creating intricate designs that portray the exquisite handiwork of Balinese artisans.
The outfits are worn with matching beehive-styled headgear or hijab, and complemented with towering heels or 1970s funky platform shoes in patch patterns (which reminds me of the unique signature platform boots series of the legendary rock band Kiss).
Ropp claims that his collection is meant for jet-setting Muslim women, but the style might be too quirky and impractical for some, and definitely not for the faint-hearted.
While the designs for men look more comfortable and sensible, the women’s collection is probably more suited for themed gala dinners.
MODESTY VS FASHION
Although Ropp’s creations cover the body from head to toe, the style faintly defines the basic principles of Islamic fashion where modesty dictates.
“As a non-Muslim and brought up in Brooklyn, New York, I find it very challenging to design clothes for Muslim women, particularly when it comes to understanding and finding the balance between the need to cover up and being fashionable,” says Ropp, who is also founder of FurnArt, his state-of-the-art furniture lines.
Having many Muslim friends and business associates around the globe, he says, has helped shape his perception about Islam and fashion.
“I find that Islamic fashion has its beauty and so do Muslim women who cover themselves. But I feel they don’t need to be in outfits that are dull or traditionally black.
“So I have tweaked the designs and made the style more fun,” he says.
“For now, this is my way of enhancing the beauty of Muslim women. I hope my designs provide options for them to be fashionable and to not brush aside the individuality factor in their dress sense.”