MALAYSIA - I HAVEN'T been to Jakarta in almost three years. At one point, I practically lived there. I don't care what people say about the traffic jams, smog, etc, I love it! I love the food, the culture ... but most of all, I love the shopping.
Jakarta has the best stores, and somehow, its buyers are a lot better than ours. I base this on the fact that all the clothes and accessories are gorgeous. Not that ours are that bad, it's just that the ones you find there are a little more sophisticated and edgy.
So on a recent trip, I had to check out their newest malls. I didn't have much time - it wasn't a very long trip - so I went to two places, Grand Indonesia, primarily because of Harvey Nichols (yes, they have Harvey Nicks!) and Pacific Place.
Everything was on sale and I'm beginning to think the entire world is on sale. Did you read about the high street wars in London? Prices were slashed to the bone in an attempt to woo shoppers. Talk about survival of the fittest ... or should we say, fashionable?
So what was Harvey Nichols in Jakarta like? Gorgeous! It spans about four floors, and apart from clothes, it has a restaurant and a supermarket upstairs. Oh, if I had an unlimited expense account, I would spend it all there. Or maybe save just a little bit for Pacific Place.
The clothes are beautiful, and it has some of the usual big name brands, as well as Lanvin (divine!), DSquared, Carlos Miele and Jill Sander. The mall also has all the usual stand alone boutiques, including the first Chanel boutique in Jakarta, and it's fabulous. The Gucci store was pretty big as well.
Grand Indonesia is huge: It's basically two buildings linked by a bridge and divided into three sections (which they call districts) and consists of Specialty (all the luxury stuff) Main Mall (trendy and mid-range) and Crossroads of the World (which is supposed to be the highlight of the whole Grand Indonesia shopping experience). There's a mix of international restaurants and cafes divided into sections called Market, Fashion, Garden and Entertainment. We so need a food court like this.
Pacific Place, which just opened some months ago, is connected to the Ritz Carlton and is just opposite the stock exchange. This is also one huge mall, and the Louis Vuitton store is pretty amazing.
I particularly liked the selection of clothes, which include labels by Indonesian designers (there's also a similar section in Grand Indonesia). There are beautiful clothes from Biyan, Ghea, Sebastian Gunawan and many others whose names I've forgotten but whose clothes are fabulous, and I really wish they would all come here.
Except that when they do (and did), their things are overpriced and the buyers pick the kind of clothes that can only be worn to functions most of us won't go to. Give us the party clothes, the everyday clothes ... we don't always want to wrap a sarong, drip in lace or be bejewelled to death.
These designers? second lines are the kind of things you can wear on a daily basis, or to cocktails and dinners. And for the price they sell at (RM300 above), I'd say these clothes are worth buying, especially considering that these designers tend to only make one piece in each size, so you're hardly likely to see anyone else wearing the same thing.
It would be nice if we had a department store here that carried our local designers. I think Alamanda in Putrajaya tried that, but the market's all wrong there and who the heck wants to drive all the way there to shop? Pavilion KL would be a nice venue - central and with the right traffic flowing through - though this may not be the best of times to start anything new.
Speaking of budgeting, I took my first flight on Air Asia to Jakarta and there was a little drama as that was the day there was a fire at the LCCT. This is by far the most horrible excuse for an airport I've ever been to in my life, and I have been stuck in many airports. I can't imagine that some tourists get that as their introduction to Malaysia!
Air Asia was really efficient though, and after the fire was put out, things were up and running in around 40 minutes. Air Asia's CEO Datuk Tony Fernandez was there and (of course) I had to go up and talk to him. He was even on my flight to see the passengers off. Excellent PR skills, I must say.
So yes, Tony, despite the fire and my luggage zip being ruined, I will still fly Air Asia, but I'll wait till you move to a better terminal. And don't you think it's about time you started allocating seat numbers and letting kids board first?
Fashion lover and bag mad Dzireena Mahadzir lives by two rules: never pay retail and never explain. If you'd like to bring up a fashionable issue or ask some stylish questions, send an SoS to her e-mail address above.
The Star/Asia News Network