Malaysians’ affinity for batik has been re-ignited with keen encouragement from our Prime Minister’s wife, Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood. MICHELE LIAN samples some of the locally inspired designs made for modern times.
A sleeveless top and batik sarong from Aseana.
MALAYSIA’s love affair with batik has officially begun, starting off with a fashion parade by Malaysian designers. Some of the country’s best – Khoon Hooi, Michael Ong, Eric Choong, Radzwan Radzwill, Rizalman Ibrahim, Melinda Looi and Bill Keith, along with craft houses Aseana and Kraftangan Malaysia – recently put on a show of their finest batik designs, marking the beginning of the month-and-a-half long Batik Extravaganza to celebrate the versatility of this traditional Malay craft.
Models from Andrews Models presented a sneak peek at what was to come throughout the celebration: traditional batik patterns incarnated in modern, fuss-free silhouettes to accentuate the female form.
Khoon Hooi opted to go light on prints and focused instead on form: a powder blue off-shoulder, bias-cut mini sheath with butterfly prints was playful yet sexy, while a brighter, sky blue caftan-style dress oozed subtle elegance.
Ong sent out a lavishly embroidered soft pink and white wedding kebaya fit for a princess. The ensemble comprised softly layered long skirt, tropical flower embroidery, flared cuffs and embroidered veil.
Designs by (from left) Michael Ong, Kraftangan Malaysia, Rizalman Ibrahim and Khoon Hooi.
At the other end of the colour spectrum was Choong’s contemporary take on tradition – a green floral batik skirt slit to the thigh, and a bright orange kebaya top with short sleeves and mandarin collar.
Rizalman’s designs were similar, comprising simple, pristine white form-fitting kebaya and a sheer blue sleeveless tops, both paired with deep blue floral sarongs.
Radzwan offered the most elaborate creation of the evening – a purple floor-sweeping gown decorated with multicoloured jewels and embroidery. Looi’s outfit – a fuss-free strappy top, skirt and sheer throw-over – was simplicity at its best, while Keith presented a vibrant fuschia-coloured flowing top adorned with butterfly motifs, and purple floral batik sarong.
The offerings by craft houses Aseana and Kraftangan Malaysia were also refreshingly simple, comprising mostly uncomplicated tops, sarongs and batik fabric fashioned into wraparound dresses and skirts.
Organised by the Batik Guild and Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia, the Batik Extravaganza features more than 20 fashion shows at major shopping complexes in Kuala Lumpur. The Extravaganza will culminate with a gala fashion show and presentation of the Piala Seri Endon to the winner of the Batik Fashion Design Competition on Jan 11. For more information on the fashion shows, call the Batik Guild at 03-8023 2577. Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"