Surrealism and burlesque, nature and culture, Indonesian and Chinese, these are all things that inspire Alston Stephanus, a patron of the arts that creates not only accessories, but is also involved in charity projects and education.
"They say that we cannot mix too many colors at once, but the tail of the peacock contains many shades that blend harmoniously together. This convinces me that anything is possible." Alston Stephanus, a young artist and designer, is able to cultivate his dream-like perspectives, while looking concretely at the reality around him. He defines the fact that he is, "motivated by the feelings that harmony evoke and I am thankful for my multicultural background, even though it was not always peaceful growing up in Indonesia." Difficult to describe, but using the Greek nickname that Homer described Odysseus, "polytropos," or "many personalities," fits Alston well.
He creates made-to-measure headpieces, but also large art / show pieces. "Their grandeur," he says, "brings together the cultural heritage of the crowns worn in traditional Javanese ceremonies and are modeled after nature’s fierce energy. These references combine spiritual energy with the richness of color, which are my primary sources of inspiration, and all with Chinese influence. If the Javanese culture is ingrained with the forces of the Earth and forest, the Chinese culture is connected to the cycle of fire. For me, they are both very important. Two birds in particular always catch my eye, Indonesia’s iconic bird of paradise, and the Javanese peacock." His artistically designed headpieces will also reflect his cosmopolitan lifestyle; "I grew up in the togetherness and coexistence of different cultures, which is part of my personal history. Indonesia is a melting pot and the fourth most populated nation in the world, containing many religions, ethnic and tribal groups. This life, for myself and others, is a shared journey."
His love for the land is cultivated in the Indonesian materials used for design, with the exception of Swarovski crystals. This has led him to adorn one of the heads at Miss Universe 2006 with one of his creations. He explains, "At the competition, my country was represented by Nadine Chandrawinata, Miss Indonesia 2005. Traditional kebaya designer Anna Avantie, Nadine’s official dressmaker, invited me to create the accessories. This was a big thrill!” He continues, “Whether working with women or men, I always try to represent the energy of the person who will be wearing my creations. I like to really know the people I collaborate with. For one specific job, I chose my god-sister, L’ain Freefall, to model in a photo shoot inspired by Chinese opera. I enjoyed the challenge of balancing her modern look in contrast to this customary theme. She has a clean and beautiful Chinese face, yet she defies cultural traditions by covering her entire body with tattoos. Similarly in her own career, L’ain started as a makeup artist, using brushes to make people beautiful, but as a tattoo artist, she now uses needles and ink.” All this was reflected in Alston’s photo shoot of her wearing his accessories. When asked which celebrity he would most like to dress, Alston gave the very Italian answer of, “my mother."
Crafting dreams into wearable headpieces, this culturally rich young designer took that same passion and talent to create events company, Sublime Boudoir - Seduction of Senses. "Everyone from guests, performers and behind the scene workers are invited to experiment with their artistic side and leave the everyday world behind for a vintage wonderland." At the launch event in Amsterdam, the city was turned into the capital for burlesque for four days, taking guests on a journey across cultures and history. "Dutch cities are historically connected to Indonesia. They were a cultural meeting point between Europe and my home country. Forging these events was demanding, but it gave me great satisfaction," he says. He concludes with a promise, “You will just have to wait and see what the future holds for me, but be prepared to be surprised!"