TRIPLE THREAT. Known as a ravishing model to many, Salvita Decorte spreads her wings in the fields of art and acting, Gabriela Yosefina discovers more
Dress by Etro
It takes only a glimpse at Salvita Decorte to tell that she is a model. Clad in a head-to-toe black outfit with no smudge of makeup visible on her face, she sports that distinct “off-duty model” look that distinguishes her from the crowd. Appearing somewhat shy and introverted at first, she quickly makes herself comfortable once the interview begins. The dark-haired model fluently shares her life accounts and often goes on monologues as her mind constantly wanders about.
Modeling found Decorte at a young age. It was her friend who persuaded her to give it a try when she was still in junior high. “I was a really shy girl. I would simply shut down when I met new people. But my friend pushed me, so I asked my mom to call my dad’s friend who was a photographer. Then we did a ‘portfolio’ shoot—nothing like a professional model, though. I remember I was still in puberty; I didn’t even bother shaving or waxing!” she exclaims while setting out a laugh. She initially booked a lot of jobs in Bali, her home, and soon landed several gigs in Jakarta.
Venturing early into modeling gave Decorte an advantage as she had to learn everything from scratch while gaining as much experience as possible to hone her skills. Thanks in part to the unique features imparted by her Indian- German lineage, she immediately acquired recognition in the industry and became everyone’s favorite model within a relatively short period of time.
But life has not always been smooth sailing for the 1990-born model. “My first time working abroad was for a three-month contract in Singapore. And it wasn’t easy at first. I was having a hard time getting a job because of my skin. They tell me that I am too dark,” she says. The conversation then turns serious as Decorte discusses issues surrounding the industry that relies heavily on physical appearance. “I think that you are supposed to hire a model based on who she is, not what she could be. On the other hand, as a model you have to select which opinion you listen to, especially when it is regarding your body. [The reality in] Singapore taught me that. If you take everything too hard, you are going down.”
Art comes to the rescue for the Bali native who, despite claiming that she really enjoys modeling, needs a balancing factor. “Having people touch your face and tell you what to do every day can upset you. So art—in my case it’s painting—balances that out. Modeling is very physical, but painting allows me to explore my mental capacity. Art keeps me grounded; it’s like meditation.” Nevertheless, Decorte does not consider herself a painter. “Painting must be what your life is all about if you are to be a painter—like my father. When I was small, he allowed me to paint everywhere in the house. I had a lot of freedom. Today, I need to be in the right mood to paint,” she admits.
Channeling her artistic side has become harder these days since her painting studio is located in Bali, while her modeling jobs mostly take place in Jakarta. “When I travel for work, I usually draw in my book—it’s easier to carry than a canvas! The drawings are just like doodles but it is important for me to draw every day. Otherwise, I feel like I’m harming myself; I feel guilty.”
Dress by Michael Kors
The consistency in Decorte’s art is not only apparent in her constant craving for artistic creation; she also finds herself continually drawn to portraits and faces as her painting subjects. “Most of my works are abstract faces that illustrate my emotions. If you see my paintings, the eyes are usually my eyes. I guess that’s my aesthetic—I borrow somebody else’s movement and gesture, but I inject my own emotion into it.”
Decorte has had to apply an opposite approach for her recent acting endeavor: The body is hers but the emotion is someone else’s. That transition from modeling to acting proved challenging for her, since she did not want to be seen as a jack of all trades. “There are a lot of models who have become actors, and not everyone is successful. So, I don’t want people to see me as someone who tries everything but remains mediocre. In acting, especially, the stakes are higher. If I perform poorly, the audience will respond negatively, and I’m scared of that.”
The fear of failure, thankfully, did not stop this beautiful starlet—a fitting way to address her from now on—from shifting to acting. Her “now or never” mindset encouraged her to try, and so she debuted in the film production of “Mantan Terindah” (The Most Memorable Ex). From a minor role there, she then nailed a leading role in an upcoming psycho-thriller movie by Indra Birowo, Indonesia’s renowned comedian-turned-director. Decorte plays Lily, a high-class prostitute who works in a brothel and makes a man fall in love with her. “The movie is really dark, and I only had three weeks to prepare for the role,” she says. “I am lucky to have Baim Wong as my co-actor because he is a seasoned actor, and he helped me get into the role, especially in building the chemistry. We are playing a couple on screen so, we had to be comfortable with each other.”
Outfit by Diane Von Furstenberg
“Modeling is very physical, but painting allows me to explore my mental capacity”
Outfit and accessories by Hermes
The ingénue also had to put herself in a prostitute’s shoes for the movie. However, due to the time limitation and her busy schedule, the model-cum-actress could not observe the life of real prostitutes. She relied on an acting coach and her own research, instead. “I found a blog written by a high-class prostitute. From there I learned that even though some of them really enjoy the job, by the end of the day it is pure business. They have a realistic goal to get out of that business, which is how the story in the movie unfolds,” she explains. Additionally, she points out Monica Bellucci’s movie “Irreversible” as one of her references for the role.
With a bevy of projects on her plate, the ravishing Decorte is optimistic yet divided when discussing the future. “There are two sides of me: One is living in a studio on a hill next to a beach where I can work on my art away from the entertainment industry; the other wants to keep on challenging myself with acting and modeling.” She pauses before summing up her goal perfectly, “But the ultimate goal is to be able to travel and still make money. I guess I just want to be left to my own devices.”
Dress by Michael by Michael Kors
Dress by Halston Heritage
Styling Peter Zewet
Styling Assistant Triska Putri
Videography Dimas Anggakara and Fickar Hajar
Makeup & Hairdo Ryan Ogilvy
Location Artotel Jakarta – Thamrin;
Jalan Sunda No. 3, Jakarta;
+62 21 3192 5888; artotelindonesia.com