Anniesa Desvitasari Hasibuan, 30, is on this list because she is the first designer to present a Muslim-wear collection at the prestigious New York Fashion Week (NYFW). She did this last September in New York, and received a standing ovation after her presentation to the 1,500 attendees. She followed up that achievement in February, with another presentation of Muslim wear and used only immigrant models to wear them, making a political statement against the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Trump administration.
“Fashion is universal. It is for peace, for fun, and for everyone. Despite our differences in race, culture, and religion, wherever we come from, we have equal rights,” says Anniesa, in an email interview. She adds that New York is popular as a melting pot where people from every part of the world can interact.
Her journey to the NYFW stage is a long one. To gain recognition, she first joined the New York Couture Fashion Week in September 2015 and February 2016. Then she actively participated in other events, such as the Istanbul Modest Fashion week and Cannes Fashion and Global Short Film Awards Gala in May 2016, where she earned Best Fashion Designer Award for her “Pearl Asia” collection. The NYFW committee noticed Anniesa’s efforts, and she was registered to join NYFW. The committee was very excited because it was the first time Muslim-wear hijab would be shown at NYFW.
She presented 48 pieces under the D’Jakarta collection, with 38 ready-to-wear pieces and 10 couture pieces, inspired by Indonesian fashion trends. She took six months to prepare for the show, and was assisted by around 20 staff. After the show, she received many positive responses and wide coverage from international media. “They don’t see my collection from a religious aspect, but as fashion pieces,” says Anniesa.
Anniesa surprisingly has no background in fashion design, except for a short course in design she took in London. Her path into the fashion industry came from her passion for drawing. She was studying accounting at the Universitas Indonesia when her father passed away, so she had to quit her studies and get a job to earn money to help her family. For eight years, she sold hamburgers and mobile phone credits.
In 2008, Anniesa and her husband Andika Surachman set up an umrah travel agent company, First Travel. By 2015, the business managed to earn $40 million in annual revenue. Then she had a miscarriage, so her husband let her take some time off, and she began to explore fashion design. Anniesa’s first client was her own husband, and then she started to design clothes for her friends. Finally, she felt confident enough to open her own boutique.