Rinaldy A. Yunardi : From Zero to Hero

From answering phones for a car company, Rinaldy A. Yunardi has risen to become an international accessory designer sought out by the likes of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Madonna.

From zero to hero’ is an ideal phrase to describe the career path of Rinaldy A. Yunardi, the well-known Indonesian accessory designer. The 48-year-old admits that he never dreamed of joining the fashion industry, let alone becoming a famous designer. As a teenager, even going to fashion school did not occur to him.

Born in Medan to parents from Aceh, upon finishing high school Rinaldy turned down an offer from his brother to sponsor him to go to university. “At that time, my brother already had his own family. My parents were retired. So, I didn’t want to burden them,” he explains.

The designer, known for his fondness for wearing black, began his working life as a marketing officer for a car company. His job was to answer phones and take care of orders, but he was often assigned to another division, which taught him a lot about company management.

After resigning from the car company, Rinaldy’s career took a different turn when he met Kim Thong, a famous wedding dress designer. Rinaldy was assigned to sell Thong’s imported tiaras; coincidentally, it was the first time he had set eyes on a tiara. “It was 1994, and the fashion industry in Indonesia was not as developed as it is today. People at that time preferred to buy tiaras from abroad. Since it was rather difficult for me to sell them, I finally resigned,” he says.

Rinaldy then worked for an electronics factory owned by his brother, and it was here that he unexpectedly discovered his hidden talent. “One day, I went to the factory behind the store and was working with some stuff, like acrylic, wire, cable, wire cuttings and plastic. I accidentally created some Victorian style pieces. Suddenly, I recalled the late Kim Thong’s tiaras.”

From that moment, Rinaldy began experimenting with any materials he could get his hands on, creating and selling tiaras he designed. The response was good. Demand for his pieces kept on building, with requests coming in from Jakarta and beyond.

After his initial success, Rinaldy branched out into other kinds of accessories, ranging from necklaces to bracelets, rings, gloves, ear cuffs and experimental headpieces. Fur, wire, raffia, acrylic, palm fibre, wood and other simple yet distinctive materials are found in hundreds of his designs.
The uniqueness and extraordinary elements in his designs have attracted the attention of a string of A-list international celebrities: Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Cher, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Katy Perry and Madonna are among the famous names who have been spotted wearing Rinaldy’s accessories. “For a long time, I have liked making things that are crazy and whimsical. Let people have their own opinion; I don’t care, as long as I can design with my own idealism,” Rinaldy explains.

One of the designer’s most memorable achievements was when Pop Queen Madonna wore one of his headpieces, a golden crown, to the prestigious 2018 Met Gala, topping off a dress by Jean Paul Gaultier. “I was so touched, since she chose my accessory among the available options. My wish and hope was finally accomplished,” Rinaldy recalls.

Although the world has recognised his works, Rinaldy humbly claims that he has no feasible target for the future. He simply wants his 23-year-old business to run steadily. “If I have a dream, I would like to build an accessory museum. Of course, should it be possible, I cannot establish it alone,” he says.

For work and pleasure, Rinaldy is a frequent flyer. He is particularly taken with Hong Kong, where he likes to unwind as well as shop for materials, enjoying the fashion, atmosphere, entertainment and good food.

“I always fly with Garuda Indonesia to travel to any destination, as the airline offers seriously good services, and that makes me very comfortable,” the designer concludes, rounding off our interview.