In 2009, UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage Committee officially designated Indonesian batik as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” during a meeting in Abu Dhabi. Since then, batik has been internationally recognised as an iconic historical fabric of human civilisation. With this in mind, and with aim to promote batik on an international level, Indonesian fashion designer Oscar Lawalata along with the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Indonesia for UNESCO have teamed up with the Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation and Bank Mandiri for a special exhibition called “Batik For The World”, which was officially opened yesterday at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, running until June 12.
The opening ceremony saw a fashion show from Oscar Lawalata together with two other Indonesian fashion designers, Edward Hutabarat and Denny Wirawan. Presented at UNESCO Paris’ conference hall, Oscar presented a collection of batik from five areas in East Java, including Madura, Surabaya, Ponorogo, Trenggalek, and Tuban in ready-to-wear ensembles. Edward Hutabarat featured batik from the coastal areas of Mega Mendung and Sawung Galing, while Denny Wirawan displayed the beauty and uniqueness of Batik Kudus.
Oscar Lawalata used various kinds of batik processing methods as well as hand embroidery, natural colouring, and other hand-crafted details. As an Indonesian designer who integrates traditional culture and modern lifestyles, Oscar has a mission to uplift, preserve, and reintroduce the cultural identity of batik to the people of Indonesia and the world.
For Edward Hutabarat, batik is not only a symbol of Indonesian pride, but also as the fabric of the nation’s civilised heritage filled with its own historical value. “This is a golden opportunity to speak at UNESCO and showcase one of Indonesian civilisation’s finest fabrics, batik, to the world. They can see first-hand the beauty and splendour of the cloth of Indonesian civilisation,” said Edo. During “Batik For World”, he created batik in casual wear and beachwear—the resort look with loose and light designs.
Meanwhile, Denny Wirawan’s Kudus batik collection features beautiful flora and fauna designs with cheerful colours combined with embroidery, a popular inspiration for cocktail and evening wear. “I collaborated with the Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation to revive Batik Kudus, which was popular in the 1920s to ‘60s as the most delicate of batik cloths and colouring motifs, but which had become almost extinct in the absence of regeneration in the art of batik,” said Denny. He added that he hopes there will be a strong motivation to preserve and maintain the spirit of Batik Kudus in the future.
There will be more than 100 Indonesian batik fabrics curated by the Indonesia Batik Foundation (YBI), Rumah Pesona Kain (House of Enchanting Fabrics) and Oscar Lawalata Culture that will be exhibited in the main building of the UNESCO headquarters, to be seen by thousands of world delegates who work in and traverse the area daily. A series of other activities are also offered to visitors, including opportunities to visit the craftsmen’s area featuring demonstrations about making batik cloth, as well as talk shows about the Indonesian batik industry and its development, batik, and cultural traditions, and how to wear batik.
Watch the video above to see a glimpse of the event.