It may have taken a while but batik has made it to the global stage. Oscar Lawalata and his compatriots wowed international audiences at the opening of the “Batik for the World” exhibition at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.

The final walk of Batik for the World Fashion Show by Oscar Lawalata, Edward Hutabarat, and Denny Wirawan at UNESCO headquarter in Paris, France. Photo courtesy of Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation/NOW!JAKARTA

The exhibition opened with a fashion presentation which featured a special collection from three Indonesian designers, Oscar Lawalata, Edward Hutabarat, and Denny Wirawan. This was followed by a week-long exhibition which doubled as a introduction to batik.

According to designers, fashion has its power to bring out the opulence of batik design, transforming it into modern clothing or couture. As a million dollar industry fashion has the power to catapult batik and generate massive capital.

Earlier, Oscar Lawalata said batik is rapidly growing in the country but hasn’t been showcased overseas. Ministry of Industry data from 2017 indicates that the value of batik exports can reach up to IDR 692 billion ( USD 51 million) and contributes to the growth of small medium enterprises and batik houses.

Oscar Lawalata's collection.
Edward Hutabarat's collection.

With 24 pieces in a special collection, Oscar Lawalata, Edward Hutabarat, and Denny Wirawan featured a variety of batik patterns— from different tradition across the country— worn by a diverse group of models on the runway. The rich and unique patterns were matched with models of different skin tones to represent the diversity of Indonesia.

The designers showcased batik patterns from Kediri, Sidoarjo, Madura, Trenggalek, Ponorogo, Tuban, Kudus, Pekalongan and Cirebon. Visitors were treated to the spectrum of colour, motifs, and tailorship, which emphasised that batik was a rather than merely print on fabric.

The collections ranged in style from casual to more formal, evening wear. Denny Wirawan used strong colours such as red and gold to give his collection an elegant look, while Edward Hutabarat play with colours to create a summer style. Oscar Lawalata chose earthy colours for his simple, elegant designs.

Models wear designe's collection at exhibition venue.

With the support of Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation, Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf), Rumah Kreatif BUMN and Bank Mandiri, the exhibition also featured an exhibit of 100 batik textiles, a talk show, a meet-and-greet with batik artists, and a workshop.

“This cannot be done independently because the result will not be maximal. However, if we collaborate together, this batik can be seen by the international community. This event introduced batik as an artisan product which has become the pride of  Indonesia at the UNESCO delegation, and I hope it will encourage more tourists to visit Indonesia,” said Renitasari Adrian, Programme Director of Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation via a press release.


Rintang Azhar

Rintang Azhar

Rintang is a previous staff writer for NOW! with experience in hard news and lifestyle journalism. He specialises in art, design, culture, fashion, environmental, and urban issues.