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All In The Right Places

Izzat Haziq

Emerging young artist, Dhani, talks about her hometown, her love for Bali and how travelling influences her many creative pursuits.

Dhaniya Illiani Yusof is no regular girl by any means. The fashion design graduate is a multidisciplinary creative who stands at the forefront of pushing boundaries of societal norms, particularly in championing the spirit of self-expression. You’ll most likely catch her donning her signature bucket hat - her style is definitely a culmination of all things ephemeral and kooky. To simply describe her get-ups as unique would be a vast understatement. It's no wonder that her Instagram page (@dhanilliani) - which amassed a huge number of fans across the region - has become somewhat of a living moodboard for those looking for fashion inspos.

From left: Per-empuan 2019 (Betina Fight) - photographic fabric installation piece, mix media, Iron Board vs Ombak – illustration and Bunga Garang - performance art, part of her ArusBinti Exhibition in Indonesia.

When she’s not hitting the puck on the ice rink (yes, she’s also on the national ice hockey team), the cool and aloof Dhani works on the online platform for youth, Mulazine as its editor-at-large. She also enjoys different fields of arts - from styling, filmmaking and art installations to creative directing and even performance art. As a matter of fact, her creative endeavours have taken her to places far and abroad. Her work having featured in exhibitions in Indonesia and London, as well as reaching a milestone in gracing the covers of acclaimed fashion spreads, let’s see what she has to muse about travelling.

What is your idea of THE perfect vacation?

Wide-open spaces, geological wonders, and springtime! I love natural vast spaces, especially natural landscapes. The perfect vacation has to be a relaxing getaway that requires me to take some time to explore and navigate.

Where is your favourite local destination, and why?

Penang without a doubt! Other than the fact that it is close to my heart since it’s my hometown, it’s undeniably rich in culture and art, and the array of food on the island is an experience that always feels new with every visit and bite.

Showing her best angle during her trip to Osaka, Japan.
Where do you reckon are the top 3 fashion capitals in the world?

Tokyo, Milan and New York!

What is the one destination that everyone must visit at least once if given the opportunity?

Bali! There’s a special sort of magic that only Bali has. The beautiful beaches and people, the culture and art, the food - it is a destination that I always long to go back to.

Sunset Beach Tanah Lot Bali, Indonesia (L). Showing her creative strokes at the ArusBinti Exhibition in Gudskul Jakarta, Indonesia (R).
When at KLIA or klia2, which cafe or restaurant would you stop by when you have time to spare?

When at KLIA, I would go for O’Briens Irish Sandwich Cafe. I'm a big fan of their classic signature sandwiches, which are perfect on the go meals! If I find myself at klia2, I'd usually find myself at Uncle Lim’s Cafe for my Nasi Lemak rice fix.

Dune worry! Dhani heads west to Abu Dhabi during one of her excursions around the world.

Does travelling inspire you in the pursuit of your creative endeavours? If so, how?

Undeniably! More than the obvious new sights to see and experience, the adventure, enjoying the taste a different country has to offer, I'm most inspired by my encounters with the people that I meet on my journeys. Learning or observing their beliefs, cultural background, livelihood, and more inspires me to create work that branches into exploring a different psyche and understanding.

Whenever you experience a flight delay or long layovers, how do you keep yourself occupied?

I’d roam around, find a reason to shop! Sometimes, I’ll pretend to play tourist at the shops in KLIA. If I'm feeling a bit tired, I'd just sit down with a book I brought or just bought and spend some time reading while listening to my playlist.

Dhani all decked out in Chanel Cruise 2019/20 in the streets of Tokyo for her shoot with Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.

You were featured in a photo shoot for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia that took place in Tokyo, Japan. Tell us more about your experience there.

It was an unprecedented opportunity for me, and an amazing one at that! It was an editorial for Harper's Bazaar Arabia x Chanel. They flew me from Malaysia to Tokyo, my favourite city, with all expenses paid, no less. I had the best time of my life, going around Tokyo city’s nightscapes, shooting at random streets and corners. Truly an unforgettable experience!

What’s your next move? Are there any plans for you to explore other mediums in expressing your voice through art?

I always have a bit too much on my plate, but a creative always does, in a way. At the moment I'm working on building up the funds for my short film and installation for my next exhibition in Copenhagen set for next year. As for my collective, Mulazine, I'm working on setting up more workshops and collaborations in the effort of integrating the practice of art with the general public more.

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