Notes: Diane von Fürstenberg

14079885_10154353134090761_2568458359531648185_n-1Few years ago, I did not know who Diane von Fürstenberg is. However, now she is one of my favorite fashion designers. For me, she is very inspiring, not only as a fashion designer but also as a person, as a woman and as a fighter. But how did I get to know about DVF at the first place?

Well, as  a curious person, I always love getting to know the story behind the dresses or shoes that I have been wearing. During my free time, I often searched for articles, videos or book about those designers, and this is including DVF. I watched  some of her talks and speeches on the Youtube, I also read her memoir “The Woman I Wanted To Be” that I purchased in DVF headquarter in New York few months back. As I finished reading her memoir, I have a great admiration to her. She came across as an incredible woman and extremely inspiring. She is very determine, courageous, adventurous, selfless and also has strong wills within herself.

I myself started falling in love with DVF since I was in love with her iconic jersey wrap dress which she released in the 70s for the very first time. However, I cannot remember clearly how I started falling in love with DVF dresses. Perhaps, if I am not mistaken, it might happen in early 2014 when I started to leave the party night scene. 

Back then, I got bored with my collections which tend to be number of bandage dresses, jeans, long sleeve shirt and cropped top. Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful collections but they tend to be just sexy but not elegant. Other than that, perhaps I also got older. As a result, I wanted something that is more elegant and classy.  Yet, for I like the clean-cut dresses, I had no idea where to find my dream dresses. 

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DVF Headquarter in West Village, New York City [2016:EO]

So one day, I strolled around Jakarta shopping malls to find the clean-cut yet elegant dresses. After entering boutique after boutique, I finally found my first wrap dress. But it was not DVF wrap dress, it was a BCBGmaxazria wrap dress. I like its fabric, jersey; they are light and look elegant. I like the way it drops as I wear it. Although I loved its prints, it was slightly too shinny and I did not really like it. 

Hence, as I really liked the style, I looked for my second wrap dress which looks less shinny. And here was I at DVF boutique in Plaza Indonesia, I found a heaven with plenty  of wrap dresses hanging on the rack. I picked some and tried them on, they indeed looked very sexy and elegant. I said to myself that I could wear them any kind of events, including function event, dinner or even to work. They seem to be very effortless to put on. 

Since then, I often go to DVF boutique regularly to check some of their latest collections. Not to get them right away tho but wait until the end-of-season sales coming; that way I can save some money and plan what I wanted to buy. Not forget to mention that  I would normally get up to 70 percent off from its real price by shopping on the end-of-season sales. Now, I got some of DVF collections ranging from wrap dresses, romper, shirt dresses, silk shirts as well as cardigan.

Another added point of DVF is that unlike many sales girls in the high-end boutique who will not be friendly to customers if customers buy nothing, most of DVF girls also have good attitude, they are not pushy. They will not force you to buy if they do not suit you well. Be they working in Jakarta boutique, Singapore boutique or NYC store in West Village.

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And that is how I got to know who Diane von Fürstenberg is and end up really admiring her as an iconic woman in fashion industry as well as a person. I must say that I learnt a lot from her memoir “The Woman I Wanted To Be“.

Although something gets me thinking and wondering whether or not DVF dresses are sustainably manufactured. As I understand that Diane von Fürstenberg is about woman empowerment and loves natures, does it mean that DVF also implements sustainable business practice in its production through its supplier which has a significant impact to its labors as well as environment around it? As some of you might be aware that DVF has moved its production from Italy to China and China has an urgent environment problem when it comes to garment industry. Having this question being answered actually will determine whether or not I will get my next DVF.

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Review: Snowing in Bali

The upcoming third batch of the execution of drug convict has once again triggered controversy. Supported with official data, some have stated that  the death penalty is actually not the answer to Indonesia’s drug problem. Some have even stated that those, who were busted and sentenced to death, are only courier and not big dealers. Most of them are coming from lower middle income family. I asked myself Is that statement correct? The controversy actually raises a lot of questions in my head, such as “What do we really know about drug syndicates in Indonesia? Are those who were arrested  just victims and being trapped? Or, are they professional drug runners? What do we really know about the Brazilian drug runner Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, who has been executed in early 2015? Was he just a courier? What about Mary Jane Veloso? What do we really know about the world illicit in Indonesia?” I have heard some stories but honestly it was still unclear to me. But when I read Snowing in Bali: The Incredible Inside Account of Bali’s Hidden Drug World, much was reveled.

Written by Kathryn Bonella, the author of Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail, Snowing in Bali highlights the drug world in Bali with interesting details. It opens the readers eyes about why people choose to enter the drug world, how the drug syndicate works, who those drug convicts are, how drug syndicates deal with the Indonesian legal system and what drugs can do to people.

One of the characters identified as Rafael, who is described as a former Brazilian cocaine boss in Bali, reveals stories of Peruvian and Brazilian’s drug syndicate in the island of God. The Bali-based Peruvian and Brazilian drug syndicate has been trafficking drugs in Peru, Brazil, the Netherland, Sweden, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia as well as Australia.

Despite the fact Rafael appears as the main character in Snowing  in Bali , it also highlights the story of Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira who was executed  by firing squad in early 2015. Apparently, Marco has been a long time player who started his business in the 90s as a marijuana dealer in Indonesia. He imported top quality marijuana from the Netherland to Indonesia. Among his peers, Marco was known as a Lemon Juice’s King. Interestingly enough, Rafael actually started his career as a freelance marijuana salesman for  Marco.

As a freelance marijuana’s salesman, Rafael generated a huge profit which can pay for his fancy lifestyle in Bali. Knowing how easy it is to make fast cash through drug trafficking, Rafael has turned himself from a salesman to  drug runner and quickly to be one of the biggest cocaine player in Bali. He trafficked cocaine from Peru to Indonesia as well as Australia over the years. He had huge villa, nice cars, fancy motorbike, designer fashion collection and also a hell lot of money.

Surprisingly, many people who want to earn fast cash and enjoy a good life but do not want to do a real job, some would sometimes go to a dealer and request for ‘a job as a drug runner’. Although it is a risky job, many would take it anyway.

An older Brazilian woman, who has been living in Bali for 20 years, sidled up to him at parties hustling for a chance to run. “I need a job. I can do it – nobody is going to stop me because I’m old. Let’s do it.  (p.56)

However, every party must come to end sometimes. Many of Rafael friends, includes his own wife Anna, were arrested by authorities across the globe. Not forget to mention his former ‘boss’ the Brazilian Lemon Juice King Marco who had always been very confident that he would be able to escape from the authorities or even the death. Luckily, unlike Marco and Anna, Rafael managed to escape from the authorities and did not end up in jail. Nevertheless, he still has to face another consequences. His wealth slowly went down to the drain, he could not even pay the basic bill.  Rafael then decided to leave the game.

In the end, after all the glamour, I don’t feel proud. I try to forget this shit. Because I don’t think it is cool. I poison people here with this shit just for money, nothing else. Poison people, fuck families, even make people die from overdose. I like to show off in that time. For what? Now I have different value for life. (p. 387)

Reading the 401 pages of book actually makes me thinking twice whether I have to feel sorry about those drug convicts who are facing death penalty or not. Should I feel sorry for late the Brazilian Marco or Rodrigo Gullarte in the same way I feel sorry for the Philippine drug convict Mary Jane Veloso? The answer is NO.

Marco and Rodrigo are not the same as Mary Jane. Marco is a dealer, Rodrigo is a horse and Mary Jane is a mule. So what is the difference? Well, Marco and Rodrigo were aware with the risk meanwhile Mary Jane could have been trapped by greedy heartless dealer.

Mules are not the kind of people who work for me, people who come to Bali and enjoy life, this is a real horse. But mules are really, really desperate people. Really poor people, don’t speak English and they fall like flies– Andre, drug dealer (p. 166)

Rodrigo Gularte is a 32 years old rich upper middle-class guy from South Brazil. He was the black sheep in a rich family. He’d started sniffing solvents as a teenager and despite his mother trying to set him up in various careers, he chose to traffic drugs (p.286)

Overall, Snowing in Bali is very intriguing. I could not even stop reading the book. At the end, the readers actually can see the red line between many drug cases especially in Indonesia if only  those drug cases have been exposed by the media continuously and properly. Reader don’t have to believe whether it’s objectively written or not but It is worth reading.

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Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail

Bali has been known as a paradise for surfers, beach lovers as well as party animals. Bali’s natural beauty and distinctive culture somehow have been able to attract millions of travelers to visit the Island of God annually for decades. Yet, the Island of God is not free from the dark world including drug cartel. Wide range drugs from  weed, cocaine to heroines with various qualities are available in the island. Anyone who wants it, they can get it as long as they have money for it and know where to get it. However, drug is illegal in Indonesia. Even small quantity of drugs can bring anyone to long jail sentence, heavy fines as well as cost thousands of dollars to get your freedom back. A Nepalese inmate Den was quoted in the Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail saying that “If you want to have a little bit of freedom, you need to pay money, including for beer, movie or even girl (sex worker).” Otherwise, you will end up living miserably in the jail cell.

Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail is written by an Australian journalist, Kathryn Bonella who is also the author of No More Tomorrow Schapelle Corby as a warning for travelers. Any holiday can turn to be a nightmare any moment as soon as they are dealing with drugs in the Island of God. With the main source Ruggiero, a Brazilian inmates who was arrested for possessing 146 g of hashish, 43 g of cocaine and one green ecstasy pill, and few other foreign national inmates, Ms. Bonella is trying to bringing the readers inside the Hotel K. Not a fancy villa with private swimming pool and hot shower but a pig house with filthy bathroom, dried poops and dead rats in the water tank. It is just dilapidated.

Through 301 pages of book, Ms. Bonella describes how complicated dealing with Indonesian justice system is and how corrupt Indonesian justice system is -be in the police station, the court as well as inside the jail- is. Really? Is Indonesian justice system corrupt? Yes and it is not surprising. Previously, one of Indonesian top lawyer Hotman Paris was even quoted by various international media outlets including  New York Times and The Age  saying how unclean Indonesian justice system is.

And yet, life does not get any cheaper as soon as one goes inside the prison, one would need to continue to pay their bill as if they are freeman as there is nothing free inside. Interestingly enough, inmates are not only able to buy mineral water, soap or instant noodle but also  beer, weed, cocaine as well as heroin inside Kerobokan prison. What? You could even purchase drugs inside the prison? Yes. That is indeed interesting.

 “Kerobokan is drug paradise. Drugs all the time. No special time for drug. Drugs twenty-four hours. You smoke cigarette, you smoke shabu. The party was daily. Every single day after lunch we’d sit outside and get pissed, those who want to smoke shabu, smoke shabu; those who want to use smack, use smack. That’s on daily basis. ” Brazilian inmates Ruggiero told Ms. Bonella. (132)

So the question is now being “Does arresting drug dealer/runner actually have a significant deterrent effect to them? Will they ever stop of doing their drug business?” No, it does not seem so.

Arman wishes to become Hotel K’s drug lord. He was selling huge quantity of drugs inside and outside, paying Laskar (Bali) for protection, and prisoners and guards to work as couriers supplying bars and club across Bali. Arman made at least 100 million Rupiah a day, sometimes 300 million Rupiah a day. Many times I saw the guy folding up the whole lot of money. He sold shabu, heroine, ecstasy  ganja, hasish, cocaine.” (196) 

I must say that it is slightly shocking but I believe that public actually has acknowledged it through media reports over the years. Even recently, a drug lord Freddy Budiman, who was sentenced to death in 2013, openly admitted that he is still running his business from the jail cell with the help of prison guards because the China-based  drug syndicate does not have any other ‘distributor’ in Indonesia.

Honestly sometimes I wonder how dangerous drugs are? Hotel K gave me clues and  I found it interesting

“With Laskar and Arman pushing drugs and offering unlimited credits to westerners, many inmates let their drug bills spiral out of control. If they couldn’t pay up when Arman called in the cashed, the consequences were deadly.

Many of the westerners who lost control of their drug bills got cash from their parents or friends to avoid being bashed.

Juri (an Italian inmates) lied in any way necessary to get cash from friends and family for his heroin bills.  (198)

You see? Reading Hotel K makes me understand why President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has declared war on drugs. As a president, he refuses to grant president clemency to drug dealers or runners because the drug dealers and runners cannot just be stopped and they do not want to stop. Other than that, an addict would eventually not just hurt themselves in many ways but also their family.

Interestingly enough, it is not only drug dealers who cannot stop themselves from committing crimes when they are in prison. Other criminal still do including  scammers and thugs.

Benoit was one of three Africans doing time for a fake American dollar scam. All three were now acting in sync in Hotel K to find investors among the wealthy drug bosses. Benoit was working with Afong and the third African named Karim. (178)

I must say that I enjoyed reading Hotel K because it was produced through interviews and document research which means it can be quiet objective. It opened my eyes. It brought my imagination inside Kerobokan Prison. It shows the readers what kind of people end up in the prison and what kind of life inmates have inside the jail. It is scary. It drives you insane and brings depression. It kills your soul. Other than that, even though you can buy your freedom by bribing the guards, it is not a life inside the jail cell. For me, it would be very wise to not ignore the warning while you are visiting Bali, the Island of God, the paradise as your holiday can turn into a nightmare any moment.

Yet, I asked myself “Should I buy Ruggiero’s stories especially Ruggiero told Ms. Bonella  the Balinese hate foreigners, they are so jealous simply because only one Balinese guy snitched on him?” He seems like to generalize things and many of his comments sound to be angry or coming from a talker. Well “Snowing in Bali: The Incredible Inside Account of Bali’s Hidden Drug World” has more stories to tell and makes the readers understand about who Ruggiero is. Juicy and eye-opening!

 

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