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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

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Last week Tirta Rahmawati from Batik Batik Australia flew into Perth to showcase her designs at GAYANA.  In collaboration with Vangoh Shoes she relaunched her brand at Curtin University as part of PPIA Indonesian Cultural Event.  Not only did I have the opportunity to meet the beautiful Tirta for coffee at Koko Black but I had the time to speak to her about her designs.

BFB: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Tirta: My life is one big adventure and I love exploring new things. Although I have a few passions like fashion, batik and coffee I always set sight on discovering whatever the road leads me. I do what is in line with my value, that is what makes me truly happy. I love working with people, and I come from a closely-knit family. And I am currently embracing Melbourne’s culture and life.

BFB: Where are you from? And where are you based?
Tirta: I’m from Indonesia but currently I’m based in Melbourne, Australia

BFB: How did you get involved to create Batik art? And what inspired you?
Tirta: Batik is part of my heritage. It’s a huge element in a lot of celebrations and part of the very core of our culture. So growing up in a place where this beautiful textile art has evolved made me want to get more involved in the process and translating it into fashion and showcase it to the world.

BFB: Could you let us know about Batik and the two methods of creating it?
Tirta: There are a lot of Batiks around the world, from China, Japan, Malaysia and even Africa. But the Indonesian Batik is renowned for the very process of how it is made. When you create a Batik fabric, you use a technique of applying wax to a cloth before having it dyed. And the wax is applied by hand with a tool that is called Tulis which looks like a pen that you use to create or trace out different patterns. Another technique used is the Batik Cap, which is a stamp with designs that form a pattern on the fabric.  The whole Batik process is very intricate and requires attention to detail from the artisans.

BFB: Which method do you use on your designs, Cap or/and Tulis? And why?
Tirta: We use both in our designs. Although both are made by hand, I appreciate the ones made from the Batik Tulis because it takes a lot of patience and skill to come out with the most beautiful designs.

BFB: Batik is usually applied on cotton or silk Batik fabrics which type do you have the tenancy to use?
Tirta: In our designs, I like to use cotton since it’s cool and breezy.

BFB: On average how long does one item take to make?
Tirta: Usually intakes about 3 to 4 weeks to create a dress. Like for example the Lestari Dress from Spring 2014. Someone had it custom made for her size and it took us a month to create the dress. It also depends on the availability of the Batik fabric because they don’t usually have those mass produced which makes it more special. To make the Batik fabric itself takes 2 months or more to produce.

BFB: What do you love the most about making Batik? And what keeps you motivated to creating such individual “one of pieces”?
Tirta: I love that I get to translate these beautiful handmade fabrics into wearable pieces of Art. And the challenge of making the designs wearable for any season keeps me inspired on the creative process

How do you come up with the individual designs of Batik for your fabric? and do they motivate the actual design of the outfit? or do you have the designs already made up?
Tirta: My designers and I collaborate on what designs we want for each fabric. Sometimes we add a few fabrics to the Batik pieces and sometimes we even combine two or three Batik fabrics. The outcome will depend on the designs we envisioned, the overall theme of the collection and the availability of the Batiks we have on hand.

BFB: What type of person do you see wearing Batik Batik?
The person wearing Batik is free spirited, a Bohemian Chic but can translate herself elegantly. Most importantly it takes a bold woman to be wearing Batik. So she should love THAT part of her personality.

What has been your biggest achievement?
I feel grateful when someone outside Australia and Indonesia gets to wear Batik Batik. But the biggest achievement is when someone gets back to you and says “I love your dress!.”

BFB: What are your future plans and goals for Batik Batik?
I want Batik Batik to reach out to a bigger audience. That’s why I’m planning to come out with a wider range of sizes too. The initial collections were catered to a niche market with limited sizes which seemed to be really an “investment" for most of our clients. Which is why we’re making the prices more attractive to those who really aspire for these beautiful creations.


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