Fashion sense: A quick chat with Aaron Von Jolly

Dato Aaron Von Jolly

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By Wilfred Pilo

SARAWAK-BORN Dato Aaron Von Jolly and his elder brother Dato Raymond Jolly both kick-started their fashion label `Von Jolly Couture’ in 2004 in Bangsar, Peninsular Malaysia.

The following year, they were adjudged the winner of Piala Seri Endon Batik Competition, making them the sole winner of the prestigious fashion award recipient from Sarawak to date.

The two siblings spearheaded the idea of transforming cultural fabric into couture dresses and have always been known for their abstract batik strokes from their own workshop.

Today, their works have achieved various international accolades and recognition such as:-

• In collaboration with Polo Ralph Laurens New York for the 2007 and 2008 Spring/ Summer Collections.

• The 79th Annual Academy Award at the Kodak Theather, Los Angeles.

• Tag Heuer Polo Event in Delhi with Shah Rukh Khan in 2008.

• Winner of Show Parade in Guilianova in Italy in 2008.

• Kick-started the transformation of `pua kumbu’ (an Iban textile) into couture dresses and were first shown for the first time ever in 2012 during the Miss World Finals in Ordos, Mongolia. This has made them as the trendsetter with pua kumbu into evening dresses.

• As the Official Fashion Designer and co-partner for Miss Malaysia World from 2010 to 2013 and many other pageants throughout Malaysia.

• Represented Malaysia at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Paris, France, in 2015.

• Collaborations and collections are also available in Istanbul, Turkey.

DayakDaily caught up with Aaron recently and spoke to him on how he got into the fashion industry and what the spurred the siblings to be involved in this business.

Aaron bringing a model on the runway with a pua kumbu designed evening gown during Alta Moda Fashion Show recently.
Malaysian Miss World 2018 Participant parading a gown with pua kumbu motif.

What fashion means to him

“As an architect by profession, I certainly do not see a stop from allowing me to venture into this fashion industry as it has always been my passion since a child. I adore proper dressing, styling and most importantly the ability to see where it should begin and the right time to stop.

“Sophistication and elegant have always been our strength and style, resulting in our trademark,” he said.

On what design that is most appealing to him, Aaron revealed he adored the sultry feel of Versace by Donatella, the elegance of Valentino as well as the avant-garde of Alexander McQueen.

He said the ability to adopt these feel, understanding the applicability of it back in Asia and the local cultures and interests play a very major role in what fashion is really to him in his own terms.

A male model parading in a pua kumbu design during the Alta Moda Fashion show at the Old State Legislative Assembly Building recently.
A male and female models parading with the Dayak motif during the Alta Moda Fashion show in Kuching recently.

On what his wardrobe is like, he replied he only sticks to a few looks.

“As every day is almost a working day for me, you could spot me wearing and styling in a very synonymous look, and there is something in common, always.

“I do not bother to spend too much into reinventing myself, and the core subject is about the label. Your creation speaks a thousand words,” he said.

Aaron opined that the subject of fashion impacted the lives of many people virtually on a daily basis.

But for him, there is still a big lack among Asians as a whole to be more bold and daring, the willingness to explore and to try something out of their comfort level of need.

“The urbanites are definitely starting to see the need in proper dressing as first impressions are always very important,” he believed.

He said Sarawak and Malaysia, as a whole, were still lacking in terms of fashion consciousness.

“Everything been put together, including trends, are all from the Western continent,” he said.

Based on our climate and being located on the Equator, Aaron said there was absolutely nothing comfortable and breathable than cotton.

“But frankly, I feel that even back here in Malaysia, most of the time we are indoors, within the comfort of air conditioner. Thus, I do not feel there should be a restriction on what we intend to wear. I do wear my fur jacket to events in Malaysia, too,” he chuckled.

Models parading outfits in pua kumbu motifs.
Von Jolly Couture dresses and gowns being paraded by models during the Alta Moda Fashion Show recently.

What he wants to accomplish in the fashion industry in Sarawak

Aaron pointed out that having been in the fashion industry for almost 20 years, he certainly saw the need to share, to groom and to gather the younger generation under one roof.

“We see the importance of a body, a federation, to speak on behalf of these younger people, to nurture them and to allow them to see the possibility of seeing fashion as the next thing in Sarawak.

Therefore, I came up with Alta Moda Sarawak, he disclosed.

He said being based in Paris, France, he travels quite a bit.

“Apart from continuing with my study, I am also currently engaged with an international brand as their Art Director for their Asia Region.

“Personally, we have shown our exotic cultures of pua kumbu, batik and songket to the world, but that will not be all. The struggle is ongoing.

“I, therefore, see Alta Moda Sarawak as the next path in engaging the world to Sarawak and to attract their attention to Borneo, as a whole. With the many cultures and backgrounds, as well as nature to offer, I certainly do not see there is any reason why this great movement should not be continued,” he said. — DayakDaily