JAKARTA, Nov 6, 2010 / FW/ — Now on its third year, Jakarta Fashion Week opened with a group show entitled “A Tribute to Kebaya,” featuring the kebaya, the national dress of Indonesian women as interpreted by more than 20 renowned designers.

Historically endemic to Java, Sunda and Bali, the quintessential kebaya consists of the blouse (kebaya) of cotton, silk, lace, brocade or velvet, with the central opening of the blouse fastened by a central brooch (kerongsang) where the flaps of the blouse meet.

Traditional kebaya had no buttons down the front. A typical three-piece kerongsang is composed of a kerongsang ibu (mother piece) that is larger and heavier than the other two kerongsang anak (child piece).

The blouse is commonly semi-transparent and worn over the torso wrap or kemben. The skirt or kain is an unstitched fabric wrap around three meters long.

The term sarong in English is erroneous, the sarung (Malaysian accent: sarong) is actually stitched together to form a tube, like a Western dress- the kain is unstitched, requires a helper to dress (literally wrap) the wearer and is held in place with a string (tali), then folded this string at the waist, then held with a belt (sabuk or ikat pinggang), which may hold a decorative pocket.

The images, beautiful as they are do not come close in showing the intricacies of wearing the kebaya, which is a beautiful costume in its own right.

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